Since the 90s, we have witnessed the likes of Atif Aslam, Hadiqa Kiani, Junoon, Strings, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, among so many others, appear almost regularly on mainstream music channels and PTV. Having represented the country internationally, these acts garnered love and admiration of millions. But after their rich and stellar music became mainstream, music channels slowly dissipated, followed by a ban on YouTube, which led to the underground musicians feeling hopeless.
But now with the digital boom in terms of video and music streaming apps and platforms, Pakistanis are being introduced to a new artist every other month. Until last year, we had only come to familiarize ourselves with Abdullah Siddiqui and Hassan Raheem. Today, we can’t help but sing along to Abdul Hannan and Taha G’s tracks. Yet, it seems we are only scratching the surface. So to better understand today’s tastes, here are our pick of rising stars that have been making music for ages now, but are finally, slowly getting the recognition they deserve. These acts are changing the game instead of changing gears to simply fit in. And if you don’t know or follow them already, it’s time you did.
Poor Rich Boy
Let’s talk about the Lahore-based act Poor Rich Boy and how Pakistanis absurdly overlook them. From Death Cab for Cutie to Tame Impala, there is something about their music that is both distinctive and evocative of well-known favourites. Poor Rich Boy indulges in a passionate love affair with sound and language that is evident in their songs which are in no way ordinary.
Maanu is another artist from Lahore who quickly captured the hearts of millennials and Gen-Zs because of his musicality and catchy lyrics that anyone can relate and shake a leg to. Being a rapper, Maanu doesn’t limit himself to only hip-hop. Experimenting and collaborating whenever he can, he has garnered over 95,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
Abdul Hannan also hails from Lahore and has been making waves since dethroning Ali Sethi’s Pasoori. His music has become the talk of the town with two entrancing collaborations featuring Rovalio – Bikhra and Iraaday. Hannan has that fresh and sweet-sounding voice that you can’t possibly stop listening to. With such tormented lovestruck songs, there’s a chance he will go a long way.
Natasha is a bilingual singer who stands out because her music cannot be put into a box and stacked away. She experiments with various musical modes while singing in Urdu and English. That, combined with her vast expertise as an ethnomusicologist specialising in Pakistani music, makes her an artist you’ll want to keep returning to. Progressive rock, Neo-Soul, Synth-Wave, and RB are some genres that this sort of multi-genre singer incorporates into her work.
Hamza Jahangir is an upcoming Karachi-based artist who shouldn’t be left unheard. With a relentlessly charismatic approach, he engulfs you with his 2020 EP songs that feature his pacifying vocals. He feels each infinitesimal happiness while singing, leaving listeners scattered for words. And if you haven’t heard him yet, it’s time you look him up!
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