Meet the rappers who are legitimizing Pakistan’s hip-hop scene
Rap has been a dominant means of expression ever since it began, an informal education of sorts, that extends beyond the walls of a classroom and lands into the hearts of the many who relate. In a country that has long been inflicted with turmoil and with MCs like Tupac and Nipsey a click away, it is no surprise that Pakistan’s youth clawed onto hip-hop as a means of cathartic release. Pakistan’s hip-hop scene in many ways, whether its denigrated or applauded is a home-made product that is undoubtedly a powerful force of identity, unity and emotional expression. Engineered on the streets of inner-city neighborhoods such as Lyari, the power of hip-hop is prevalent across Pakistan, despite being highly underrated. Amongst many of the voices that are using rap to serve poetic justice are a few prominent Pakistani rappers that are affecting hip-hop culture by remaining true to their own lane while still taking cues from the music they grew up with. Some have flown under the radar others have stirred up devoted fans across the globe, either way, all of these artists are worthy of a listen if you happen to be a fan of rap.
Known as the pioneer of Punjabi rap, this game-spitting hometown hero is quite possibly one of the most successful and compelling rappers from Karachi. Bohemia or Roger David, set precedent for aspiring Pakistani rappers with his prolific rhymes, attracting a snowballing local following. Through tracks like like Kaali DeNali to Diwana, the American rapper has tapped into a sound that’s very much his own all the while bearing a close relationship to the musical tradition of his roots, marking a permanent spot in the list of influential rappers from Pakistan.
Any time Talha Anjum and Tallah Yunus link up, its magic and their group Young Stunners, is no exception. This dynamic duo has been making waves in the hip-hop scene for years, carving a path for young rappers across Pakistan. From humor ridden tracks like Asli Hai to politically driven anthems like, Naya Pakistan, the Karachi based MCs continue to demonstrate their stylistic diversity in each and every one of their tracks.
Islamabad based rapper Adil Omar AKA Paki Rambo is known for his unique rhythmic architecture with influences from an array of genres. His music is crammed with stylistic influences, cutting zigzags from one genre to the next while simultaneously blending them altogether. Omar has the ability to export ease and underlying humor directly into a sinister ratchet beat, creating an instant and sometimes, hyphy masterpiece.
From the streets of Balochistan to performing at the Lux Style awards, Abid Brohi is a self-taught Sindhi rapper who emerged through his collaboration with SomeWhatSuper on the ever so catchy track The Sibbi Song. Referred to as the Pakistani answer to Eminem, his distinctive attitude and wispy melodic phrases – whether you understand them or not; have engaged listeners from across the globe.
Spitting rhymes with a varied and studied intensity, Pindi boy, Hashim Nawaz has slowly won over the hearts of many. Nawaz’s music is the sweet spot between swaggering beats and a potent lyricism. His razor-sharp rhythmic sensibility is apparent in each and every one of his tracks, rooted in a message that speaks to the masses on a deeper level.
Faris Shafi, is a Pakistani rapper and actor from Lahore, known for his singles Jawab de and Awaam featuring singer Mooroo. Shafi’s primary gift is the ability to run circles around a beat without falling out of step for even a second, making him top of his circuit when it comes to this particular style of rap.
Regarded as the “Tomorrow of Punjabi rap” by none other than Bohemia the king of Punjabi rap himself, Guru Lahori has been representing his Lahori roots in Canada through his music. This big-beat monster draws his inspiration from Kendrick Lamar, speaking truth to power. Guru despite his hard-nosed trap mentality is a thoughtful writer who can drop bars all the while maintaining an eloquent flow.
Flinging syllables with reckless abandon, this collective emerged on the rough streets of Lyari. Delivering unabashed rhymes, they draw a straight line from the unmitigated energy of the area they have lived in. Lyari underground has a unique rhythmic sensibility unlike any one else in the game, which has allowed them to shatter boundaries that have long been associated with the neighborhood they stem from.
Aqeel Sarfraz makes our honorable mentions because he is undeniably one of the best battle rappers of the year. Sarfraz’s win at this years most anticipated show down, the Pepsi Rap Battle, certified his position in the hip-hop game. The Lahore based artist has been cooking up rhymes and showing up with his unmistakable disarming delivery consistently, all the while representing his city to the fullest.