This is a match made in music heaven. Eva B is a young and formidable rap artist from the gritty streets of Lyari. The place is famous for spitting out one talented rap and hip-hop act after another, such as Lyari Underground, Abid Brohi, Kaky Thou$and and Lil AK 100, among others.

For her latest song, Mukhtasir Baatein [Short Discussions], she’s partnered with another formidable act, albeit from Lahore, Zahra Paracha. Uber-talented guitarist, producer and one half of the Biryani Brothers (a duo she makes up with Natasha Noorani), Zahra has only recently relocated to Karachi.

In short, Mukhtasir Baatein marries Eva’s hard-hitting, brutally-honest-yet-vulnerable lyrics with the mature acoustic flow and electronic wizardry of Zahra’s production process. Even if you’re not a fan of rap, or can’t follow the fast pace of the lyrics, the music in Mukhtasir Baatein will have you grooving to the track anyway.

Mukhtasir Baatein gets straight down to it from the start. Mixing electronic beats with chords from the keyboard, which function the same way a bassline would in a typical acoustic music track, Eva launches straight into a song that talks about her evolution, both musically and as a person. It talks about moving beyond old Lyari stereotypes, of speaking her truth while others simply seek the spotlight, of losing hope and hanging on.

Eva B’s latest track Mukhtasir Baatein showcases her rapping along with Zahra Paracha’s production wizardry

In my favourite part of the song, she raps: “Jo baat thehri dil mein qalam bol diya/ Ab tau Lyari wala main ne bharam chhorr diya/ They say they want to know about me/ I was a shy person but ab sharam chhorr diya”

[My pen gave voice to what was in my heart/ I’ve left the Lyari grace behind/ They say they want to know about me/ I was a shy person but I’m shameless now]

Mukhtasir Baatein led me to another track that exhibits Zahra’s production prowess — her own solo single, Bekhudi, which she released only a couple of months ago. In contrast to Mukhtasir Baatein, Bekhudi is a soft, groovy, electropop-rock number with a fun, catchy bassline that shows off Zahra’s guitar-playing skills. The main chorus, musical hook line is a snazzy saxophone riff that adds an additional layer to an already well-produced song.

Bekhudi is a song about letting go, of the noise around you, of judgements, of the world, of your fears and finding yourself, your inner quiet and joy. Some of the chorus lines are ‘spoken’ with several tracks of voices merged together to give a choir-like feel. It’s most prominent in the section where the song has built to its climax: “Nafraton se aagay/ Tamasha peechhay chhorr ke/ Dil ko hausla dila ke/ Bina ghabraye kharri hoon main”

[Beyond hate/ Leaving all of the drama behind/ Giving my heart courage/ I stand without fear]

Mukhtasir Baatein comes right after Natasha Noorani released her first single, Chhorro, from her debut album which is currently doing the rounds on the radio. Along with the release of Bekhudi, it seems the Biryani behens, ahem, ‘brothers’, are doing very well.

Published in Dawn, ICON, June 13th, 2021

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