Pakistani hip hop

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Pakistani hip hop is a music genre in Pakistan influenced heavily from merging American hip hop with Pakistani poetry.[1] The genre was initially dominated by English and Punjabi, but in recent years has expanded to Urdu, Sindhi and Pashto.[2] The lyrical expression of cultural identity, with lyrics addressing Pakistan's political and social problems, make hip hop a popular and growing genre in the country.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The contemporary hip hop and rap movement in Pakistan grew out of the globalization of American hip hop in the early 1990s. Some Pakistani artists began experimenting with rap and hip hop as early as 1994 when Fakhar-e-Alam released his first album Rap Up, where his single Bhangra Pao is commonly acknowledged as the "first rap song in Pakistan". In particular, the rise in popularity of Eminem in the late 1990s and 50 Cent in the early 2000s influenced many of today's hip hop artists in Pakistan such as "Party Wrecker" (Mustafa Khan) of the Pashto rap group Fortitude, Qzer (Qasim Naqvi) and DirtJaw.[3] Hip hop and rap culture in Pakistan during the 1990s and early 2000s was mainly centered around those with a good grasp of English (a socioeconomically privileged group). Pakistani hip hop and rap artists at this time were mainly underground English acts and were dismissed by the media and mainstream as "Eminem ki aolad" (Eminem’s children) and "yo-bache" (yo-kids).

Punjabi rap[edit]

In February 2006, Universal Music produced the first commercially backed album of Pakistani American rapper, Bohemia. A Punjabi Christian, born in Karachi, schooled in Peshawar, and brought up in the working class minority communities of San Francisco, Bohemia’s music emerged from personal experiences, such as seeing his best friend murdered and several others sent to jail. Pesa Nasha Pyar (Punjabi for "Money Drugs Love") was Bohemia’s second album and stood out as lyrically groundbreaking. With Universal’s distribution network, Bohemia found a ready market among Pakistanis, both in the diaspora and in Pakistan itself. With just under half the country speaking Punjabi as its mother tongue, a rapper rhyming in the language dramatically expanded hip hop’s linguistic possibilities, as well as cultural and socioeconomic scope, in Pakistan. Bohemia’s Punjabi rap most strongly resonated with this segment of the population. His lyrics also lent themselves to the growing Punjabiyat (Punjabi-ness) movement in Pakistan, particularly in their hyper masculine narratives. If Eminem was accessible to those Pakistanis who could imagine themselves fashioned in his image, Bohemia was for those rising rappers in the country for whom Eminem was not relatable. With Bohemia’s introduction of Punjabi rap, the old English-language scene was no longer relevant and rappers who had performed in English with limited success now found themselves influenced by Bohemia drawing upon Punjabi street slang. In the initial years, Punjabi rap dominated the Pakistani hip hop scene with Jhelum-based Punjabi rapper Kasim Raja, Billy X, Waqas Ali Qadri and Imran Khan.[4].

Mainstream[edit]

By the late 2000s, Punjabi rap itself began influencing non-Punjabi speakers to experiment with hip hop in other Pakistani languages, thus leading to new Sindhi and Pashto hip hop scenes. Urdu rap artists tried but had always failed to make a mark on the Pakistan hip hop scene in the early years. This was due to class and linguistic politics dictated in the mid-nineteenth century by the British Raj, who had replaced Persian with Urdu as the official language. Combined with Pakistan's own tendency to privilege Urdu over indigenous languages a dichotomy was created in the country whereby Urdu is associated with urbanity, power, privilege and sophistication, while other Pakistani languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto were considered crass vernacularism. Although the genre has grown considerably in recent years, it is still considered fringe and underground by the older generation who tend to stick to traditional Pakistani music or Pakistani pop music.

Urdu rap[edit]

The rise in Urdu hip hop scene can be attributed to Karachi rap artists based out of Lyari who began shedding Urdu's reputation as a "sophisticated" and "polite" language by introducing Karachi street slang with rapid-fire Urdu lyrics. The result was instant mainstream success and solidified Karachi as the hip hop capital of Pakistan.[5] Urdu rap today has outgrown Punjabi rap by a considerable margin. Some popular Urdu rap songs in recent years included Badtameez, Wesa Beta, Class Mein, Taroo Maroo, Muffte, SelfiePhobia, Mera Pakistan, Burger-e-Karachi, Baap Ki Sarkar, Maila Majnu, Laam Se Chaurha, Straight Outta Karachi, Cheechora and Dar. Chen K and Young Stunners are often seen as the leading Urdu solo rap artist and group respectively.[6][7]

Sindhi rap[edit]

The Sindhi hip hop scene draws on a history of linguistic nationalism of Sindhis. Many Sindhi rap artists are attempting to resurrect and mainstream Sindhi culture in Pakistan using hip hop. Many Sindhi rap artists are also continuing the long Sindhi tradition of Sufi poetry, by including them into rhymes. Ali Gul Pir's Waderai Ka Beta, Meer Janweri "Piyar Jo Siphai" and are recent Sindhi rap songs that have gone mainstream and shows signs of the genre expanding beyond Punjabi.

Balochi rap[edit]

Lyari Underground L.U.G. are the leading Baloch rap group who tell the harsh tales of growing up in Lyari, often seen as Karachi's roughest neighbourhood. The singles of L.U.G. have become an anthem of identity and pride for Lyari as it highlights everything from gang culture, drugs, and death.[8] Abid Brohi's The Sibbi Song is a Baloch rap song that went viral in 2016.[9]

Types[edit]

  • Punjabi rap
  • Urdu rap
  • Pashto rap
  • Sindhi rap
  • Balochi rap

Artists[edit]

  • Adil Omar, Islamabad based English rapper
  • Ali Gul Pir, Karachi based Sindhi & Urdu rapper
  • Ataf Khawaja,
  • Bohemia, California based Punjabi rapper
  • Imran Khan, Amsterdam based Punjabi rapper
  • Lazarus, Detroit based English & Urdu rapper
  • Osama Com Laude, Orlando based English rapper currently in Pakistan
  • Mr. Capone-E Los Angeles-based Punjabi Rapper
  • Waqas Ali Qadri, Denmark based Danish, English & Urdu rapper
  • Xpolymer Dar, Islamabad based english rapper featured in Verna OST (A Pakistani featured film)
  • Ghauri, Rawalpindi based rapper and music producer
  • Hashim Nawaz, Rawalpindi based Punjabi Rapper

See also[edit]

References[edit]