Featuring Lyari Underground and Dynoman, the third song in the series, ‘Players of Lyari’ is both brave and defiant.
by Maheen Sabeeh
Patari Tabeer, a series launched by music startup Patari, to provide a platform to unheard voices and raw talent from across Pakistan, is back with its third track and like most listeners, the song, ‘Players of Lyari’ has us riveted, surprised and overwhelmed by its courage and defiance.
Featuring the rap group Lyari Underground and Dynoman as music producer, the story in the song is a reflection on Lyari, a space entrenched in conflict, neglect and one that instantly brings to mind stories of gang wars and bloody violence.
Because of its unflinchingly honest narrative, this song is possibly the strongest in the series and shows that Patari is not unafraid to lend support to ideas that are political in nature and showcase the emotion turmoil faced by an entire community in this city of infinite hope and infinite grief.
Like its predecessors, this one too is attached with a sonic architecture that fits its sentiment; a kind of gloomy obscurity that was necessary. It is not so much a thumping beat as it is a dark, sickly recurring beat.
Meanwhile, the lyrics or the Balochi rap in the song sheds light on the residents of Lyari and echoes their sentiments such as the passion for football amongst Lyari’s residents and how both local coaches as well as a corrupt national system waste its supremely talented footballers. As the lyrics go, “just imagine how disheartened we feel”, it’s a narrative that is drenched in ugly realities that are faced by an entire people and their resilient ways.
The origin story of this group is also worth exploration. According to a presser released by Patari, it goes something like this: “Asadullah aka Danger Baloch and his friends had first encountered rap music through remixes in pop songs. Entranced by the style, they noted how it was also sonically similar to certain styles of singing in Balochi, and they began to compose rap songs in that style.
They would record their songs on computer mics and set it to rudimentary music before sharing the songs via Bluetooth. One of their tracks reached the ears of an elder friend, who was well-versed in hip hop music. He also used to scour the markets of Saddar for CDs by hip-hop legends like Tupac Shakur, Easy E and the Notorious B.I.G. and introduced these acts to Asad and his friends. Learning from YouTube tutorials and one another, the friends created their group Lyari Underground in 2010. Asad said that “rap halaat ki waja se paida hota hai (rap music is a product of the social conditions)” and emphasized that rather than singing about material things, LUG was focused on showcasing the reality of Lyari and highlighting its issues.”
Apart from the single release on Patari, the track is accompanied by an equally impressive full-length music video, which has been produced by Asad and the LUG crew.
Apart from this, one must also applaud the artists who have drawn all the stunning illustrations that have accompanied the three tracks. And as this piece is being written, the first single from Patari Tabeer, ‘The Sibbi Song’ has crossed one million views on Facebook.
Ahmer Naqvi, the Director of Content, said that Patari made a conscious decision to reach out to not just Pakistanis from underrepresented backgrounds, but also those who were mostly amateur musicians. Naqvi said “it was a big risk for us, as a music startup started by privileged Pakistanis to reach out and look to enter the lives and dreams of much less privileged compatriots. We wanted to make sure that we do what was best for them, and let them truly express their creative selves.”
Naqvi reiterated that Patari would continue to support all the artists featured on Patari Tabeer by connecting them to other artists and other platforms that would “help them build a career out of their opportunity.”
With three songs out and another three in the pipeline, Patari Tabeer has not only managed to achieve its primary goal but it has done so in a manner that reminds us that there is a whole other musical universe that exists just beyond the foreseeable horizon of star-fueled jingles, corporate music projects and as listeners, it is time to not just recognize it but embrace it by making room for them in our heads and hearts and not wax lyrical untruths like how good, mind-bending, heart melting original music is no longer being made.