Raags To Riches
February 25, 2014 7:17 PM   Subscribe

But if Urdu is the refined language of power and privilege, Punjabi is the powerful words of the streets. And the streets are where lyrics overwhelmingly situate rap. Pakistani rap positions Punjabi as Ebonics is positioned in the U.S.
posted by reenum (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Really interesting article, which is very much what I've come to expect from The Chapati Mystery. Though (with due respect) I think "Pakistani rap positions Punjabi as Ebonics is positioned in the U.S." is a significant expansion/simplification of what Saif is saying.

(Also, NB to others who cast a little involuntary side-eye at the word "Ebonics": it isn't used in the article.)
posted by threeants at 8:07 PM on February 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interesting article, but I wonder if the phenomenon is a bit older than documented, because: somewhere on a cassette of a mid-80s radio show, I have a hip-hop track from an album called "Temporary Music For Punjabi Youth." It sounds a bit like Afrika Bambaataa, but with subcontinental scales and lyrics in (I assume) Punjabi.

Google seems not to have heard of it, though.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 9:29 PM on February 25, 2014

Interesting that there's still a language power struggle in Pakistan right now, much like about 40+ years ago. Some things never change.
posted by divabat at 10:05 PM on February 25, 2014

Can anyone post some links to some examples of songs? The article was a good read but I'm left wishing for a more fleshed-out post with music included.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:05 PM on February 25, 2014

Space Coyote, are the videos not showing up for you?
posted by artof.mulata at 1:58 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a fantastic article and one can wish that it were longer and more in depth...

That cat Bohemia from the Bay obviously grew up on Tupac and boy oh boy does he look pissed off.

Billy-X is interesting in that he's flaunting his prettiness and can't keep his hands off himself; I bet his wallet is fat.

Kasim Raja & Fortitude are peculiar affectations of masculinity, but masculinity is weird globally, so whatevs.

Then there's those kids Young Stunners. "Twin tracks, both immensely popular, diss Karachi’s elite and the city’s middle income youth in slang barely comprehensible to the non-Karachite." I can honestly say I have no idea what this means, but then I am not from Karachi. Burger-e-Karachi indeed. Salay.

Rap Engineers? Thanks for the message dad.

Faris Shafi is a singularity in the provided examples as it sounds little like its predecessors and shares nothing with them visually. If only I hadn't turned on the robo-translator and read some of their lyrics. Many a fine song is ruined by the knowledge of what our artists are discussing. Sure woud like to know what that strange interview interlude was carrying on about. And what was going on with that woman's hair. That was a hearkening back to the days when videos when meant everything and nothing, see ODB's 'Brooklyn Zoo' or the full ensemble's 'Da Myster of Chessboxin.'"

As for the ebonics mentioned prior, I have no idea what that's about given that the author of the FPP positions the genealogical straits as somewhat sired by the likes of Eminem & 50 cent. Should we call him 'Fiddy' for the purposes of enlightenment? More importantly, who is the Kanye of Karachi?
posted by artof.mulata at 2:23 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chadi jawani buddhe nu?
posted by infini at 2:51 AM on February 26, 2014

My dad, who is Punjabi and hates rap music (and African-Americans more generally), would really, really not like this article.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:37 AM on February 26, 2014

Good article. The swagger really is pan-Punjabi and easily recognizable on both sides of the border. I have a theory that the adoption of rap is partly due to the excision of bhangra from the culture of Pakistani Punjab. And that that was done to differentiate it from the Other Punjab, much like Urdu-vs-Hindi and other such linguistic games being played on both sides.

Of course I pulled that hypothesis out of a dark place, so YMMV.
posted by vanar sena at 6:20 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great article! Some of these guys are just bunk tho. It may be groundbreaking to rap in a language that people don't usually rap in, but that doesn't make it good. "My Daddy is an HR Manager" over a sub-Timbo 1999 beat? Needs work.

"Stressing the irrelevence of the hyper-violent rhymes of American gangsta rap to middle-income Pakistani lives..."

OK, this is like the 4th or 5th diss of "Western Rap"s materialism and violence or whatever. Methinks the author should stick to what they know--Hip Hop is about skills and beats, as it has always been. If you're looking at the current US rap landscape and going "Gangsters!" you have at least one eye closed.

That said, that Faris Shafi jam is pretty tight. I'm pretty sure he throws "Jihad Gelato" and "get a postmodern-room and watch cartoons" in there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:09 AM on February 26, 2014

Sorry, "get a postmodern-room do some shrooms and watch cartoons". A+
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:15 AM on February 26, 2014

Oops, I hit a reader link and missed the videos. Going back now.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:26 AM on February 26, 2014

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