Hot on the announcement that she’s one of the many new artists featured on the upcoming 14th season of Coke Studio, Lyari-based, niqab-posh rap artist Eva B has released her latest independent single. The song has been produced by Shehroz and is called Khushnawees [Scribe] and features the rapping talents of S.H. Haideri.

Focused on the spoken word, Khushnawees is a pretty straightforward angsty rap song with some beautifully articulated Urdu poetry against Eva B’s ‘haters’. It talks about rising above all of the negativity, persevering and eventually thriving at life. Hypocrisies are called out and grit and hard work are valued.

The production is pretty decent, the lyrics are very good, but it’s just not… very memorable. There has to be a way, beyond just poetry, to make one desi rap rant-y song sound distinct and different from the other.

Khushnawees can be listened to on YouTube. It has not appeared on Eva B’s Spotify page yet.

Eva B’s latest single Khushnawees has good lyrics but is not memorable, while Rushk’s trippy Naaqis is a reminder that rock is not yet entirely dead

Moving on to a more ‘old school’ underground band that’s been around since forever — Rushk. They’ve just released their latest single, Naaqis [Faulty].

Guitars are by both founding members of the band, Ziyyad Gulzar and Uns Mufti. Ziyyad has also played the keyboard while Uns has written the lyrics. Abbas Ali Khan and ‘SB’ are credited as the singers of the song. The bass guitars are by Quentin Barret and the drums and percussion are by Emma Calle. Rapper B Griff has also sung a section of the song.

This song is a breath of fresh air in a music scene that’s currently dominated by the somewhat fluffy-yet-fun electropop genre. This is an alternative rock song in which there is a lot happening. The song starts with an incredibly catchy riff that recurs throughout the song, even as it goes from being a moody lounge-y number into a punk rock song and back to a lounge-y, moody rock number.

The first protagonist, who embodies a female voice, sounds a bit anxious with a healthy level of self-loathing and cynicism and yet an acceptance of who they are. The second, voiced by Abbas Ali Khan, tries to reassure her she’s everything and more and that he’ll always be there for her, no matter what. She’s falling and he’s going to rescue her, despite her warning him not to.

Naaqis is a fun song to listen to, because of the diversity of the sounds available to you. Every listen reveals something new. The lyrics are easy to follow and sing along to. It switches from one mood, one character to another, but it feels like these characters are different sides to the same person, conversations that the songwriter might be having within him/herself at different points in his/her life. It’s the kind of dialogue one’s younger, angsty self can relate to.

This old-school-yet-refreshingly-new-sounding rock song is perhaps what we need infused into the current electropop scene to show that rock music really is not dead.

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 16th, 2022

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