The past few years have been an exciting time for hip-hop enthusiasts in the country, but across the border, our neighbours have also been experiencing a new era of hip-hop.
While the genre of hip-hop started with giving a voice to the people on the streets, it has evolved into sub-genres and counter cultures, each with its own unique eminence.
Exploring the myriad genres of hip-hop that range from Urdu, Balochi, Sindhi, Punjabi, and English languages and across varying themes are these Pakistani hip-hop artists who are redefining a new generation of music in the country.
I. Eva B
From the Karachi urban settlement of Lyari is Pakistan’s first-ever hijabi-rapper Eva B who rose to fame in 2022 post her stint in Coke Studio. The formidable first female rapper from Pakistan belonging to the Baloch minority writes in both Urdu and Balochi. Her songs touch on the various issues that plague society, especially those that concern women. Claiming her space in the hip-hop scene with her style of frantic, poetically syncopated freestyle rap, it is just the beginning for this young talent and we can’t wait to see what’s next from her.
II. Hamza Ibrahim
With a certain level of ‘don’t care’ brashness and a ‘never give up’ spirit, Hamiz Ibrahim began his journey with vlogging on Youtube. It is his gritty style that made people take notice and it is perhaps his willingness to keep speaking about erstwhile considered taboo subjects that keeps one coming back for more. Now with his solo rap career, he borrows heavily from his lived experiences in Karachi, inviting his audiences into these larger than life dreams of his. With a natural smooth flow and his ability to not be afraid to speak truth to power, we are excited for all that is yet to come from him.
Listen to Hamza’s discography here.
III. Hasan Raheem
With his trademark ambient and laid-back vibe, Pakistan’s breakout artist Hasan Raheem has been able to pervade our playlists in just a short span of time. In the process, he has given the Pakistani indie scene a new breath of life and has also collaborated with some coveted names from the Pakistani hip-hop scene, be it Young Stunners or Shamoon Ismail. From Aisay Kaisay to Joona, Hasan has got us all vibing. He has an unteachable charisma that is hard to explain but keeps you coming back to his music. His lyricism, cadence, and consistency make him an artist unlike any other.
IV. Hashim Nawaz
“Rap abhi zinda hai, main iska saboot hoon,” reads the Instagram bio of musical artist Hashim Nawaz, with a monthly 30,000+ listeners on Spotify, the Rawalpindi-based Pakistani rapper has been able to amass a loyal following for himself. With a punctuated, and fast-hitting rap style, he is definitely an artist from the Pakistani hip-hop scene to pay attention to.
You can listen to his music here.
This history of hip-hop music has always been about giving a voice to those undercurrents and groups of society that the mainstream neglects. So it comes as no surprise that from the neglected neighbourhood of Lyari, a young group of rappers (Asadullah aka Danger Baloch, Hammal aka Desert Eagle, Daniyal aka Slipknot, Abdul Ahad aka Anxiously, Abdullah aka DJ Khalifa, Abdul Wahab aka DJ Killa and M4 ) who have named themselves Lyari Underground are creating music that offers an honest worldview into their community, the injustice, and the struggles that plague the youth of Lyari. A bold and powerful voice in the Pakistani hip-hop world this underground rap group is definitely shaking up the scene from one of Karachi’s poorest neighbourhoods offering raps in English, Urdu, Balochi, and Sindhi.
Listen to their music here.
For Lahore native Maanu Rehman Afshar who plays by the moniker of Maanu, music has been a sonic evolution from producing catchy, laid back, easy pop tunes to rap songs like Aik Khata and Darwaazay. In an interview he mentioned that hip-hop gives energy and also allows him the space for “word play and the fun one can have with language.” With an inimitable easiness to his flow and a general ambient vibe to his tunes, he is one to look out for in the coming years.
VII. Mikki Murshed
Islamabad dweller Pakistani-Canadian artist Mikki Murshed dons many hats, be it as a rapper, a producer or a singer-songwriter. But his genius lies in making catchy and danceable beats along with a knack for hard-hitting lyrics. Having dark undertones to his lyricism and the ability to offer vivid imagery, he is able to thematically explore issues like addiction, heartbreak, pain, injustice all the while emphasizing the hope that we are stronger than our demons and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
VIII. Osama Karamat
Performing under the moniker Osama Com Laude (aka OCL), Orlando based Pakistani rapper Osama Karamat aspires to the infectious quality of hip-hop music with his work. Inspired by the timeless ‘crunk’ and the ‘bounce’ of southern hip-hop anthems that were a part of his adolescent years, his English raps have an anthem-like quality to them. Authenticity and identity are at the core of his music and it certainly shows.
IX. Umer Anjum
A fairly fresh face on the Pakistani hip-hop scene is Karachi-based rap artist Umer Anjum’s whose raw and evocative raps coupled with crisp lyricism and his powerful voice are a seamless fit. His latest single Losing Control is a further testament to his smooth flow and killer bars and he is sure to be one to watch out for in the coming years.
Karachi based hip-hop and rap duo Young Stunner’s (consisting of vocals from Talhah Yunus and Talha Anjum and music production from Jokhay) music is a reminder of everything we love about the sub-culture of rap and hip-hop. Their music is refreshing and talks about important issues with a humorous spin. They managed to garner a loyal fan-following post their 2013 satirical release ‘Burger-e-Karachi’ (burger is a reference to the Pakistani slang for elite, out-of-touch, westernised Pakistanis). Sensational figures of the Urdu hip-hop scene, they are best known for their seamless lyrical flow as well as their ability to experiment. Yunus’s experimentation and genius coupled with Anjum’s more conventional style makes for a deadly combination.
If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: