(By Rahul Aijaz) Independence Day patriotism wakes the rapper in the long-sleeping Fakhr-e-Alam
What a year 2017 has been so far! The numbers may be a different case, but from the looks of it, this is officially the year of comeback returned after 15 years to save the dying band culture in Pakistan’s music industry. With that, Fawad Khan made his spectacular return to music after a sojourn in acting. Zoheb Hassan returned with a new album after over a decade. And now Fakhr-e-Alam, the pioneer of rap/bhangra music in Pakistan, has made a comeback to music no one expected… or perhaps even desired. But here we are!
The track, titled Shikwa Pakistani, is a collaboration between Alam and Shezan Saleem JO-G (Saleem Javed’s son), and clearly gains its inspiration from Allama Iqbal’s famed poem Shikwa, which he wrote as an expression of his grievances from God. Alam, on the other hand, is disgruntled toward Pakistanis. The old school not-so-rap rap is a satire in the wake of August 14, which marks the 70th year of independence (believe it or not). The returning vocalist grieves about all that is wrong with the country even after 70 years of being (somewhat) independent.
When Iqbal wrote his Shikwa to God, many turned against him for questioning his authority and judgement. But just like Iqbal, Alam’s gripes in Shikwa Pakistani are spot on and present the narrative of the masses, albeit for the hundredth time. It’s a repetition of all that we see every day and have internalised it. But mind you, we are still quite aware of it. Shikwa Pakistani then becomes just another reiteration of every conversation you’ve ever had when stuck in a traffic jam or when the power goes out just when you reach home after work.
Yet, incorporating all that makes up the pop culture, which, in fact, is all that social media has popularised in the recent years, specifically Gormint aunty, Shikwa Pakistani is a fun watch and equally entertaining to listen to. And that’s not because of the choppy vocals or the groovy beats, but because combined, the two elements make for an imperfectly perfect fusion. Its beauty lies in its imperfection. Mind you, it’s not Taher Shah or India’s equivalent of him, Dhinchak Pooja bad. It’s miles ahead of them. You would even be surprised to find yourself nodding and tapping your foot, as I did (thanks to JO-G).
Alam’s shaky vocals serve their purpose too, even if you find yourself laughing at it. His is an example of that one drunk friend at karaoke who insists on singing an Eminem rap even though he can’t and you know he can’t. Still, you let him go ahead because why not? You doubt him and laugh as he tries but then you pick up your jaw off the floor when he accidentally, drunkenly, gets the words perfectly. He nails it. Mic drops.
You collect yourself and applaud.