Thursday December 02, 2021

Meet Khawar Malik: Young Rawalpindi rapper dreaming of stardom

Young star Khawar Malik is working on his own album after the raving success of his debut track

February 17, 2021

KARACHI: Most of the creative industry in Pakistan is located in either Karachi or Lahore. As a result, most artists in the country tend to be based in either of these two cities. Khawar Malik is a refreshing exception. The 23 year-old hip hop star and music director was born and raised in Rawalpindi. His first track, Pindi Aye, released in early 2020, catapulted Malik to national fame.

One of the reasons the song was such a success was that it was released on video sharing platform YouTube. Over the past few years, the platform has provided budding artists a way to showcase their talents to the wider world. Many young artists now solely use YouTube to engage with their audience, most of whom are the youth.

The populations of Pakistan and India, dominated by young adults with access to the internet, offer these artists a golden opportunity to be creative. Pindi Aye was a hit and resulted in Malik gaining a huge fan following across the border. Brain Chow, an Indian YouTube channel, did a video on the song that was viewed close to half a million times on the platform.

Other reaction videos to the song performed spectacularly as well. “From India, love this song, man,” wrote Vivek Ekka, an Indian user in the comments section of the song on YouTube. “Love from across the border,” wrote Ghauri, another fan from India. Shilpa Views, an Indian channel with half a million subscribers, put up a video saying that the song was unique and catchy.

The track, portraying the unique brand of culture that Rawalpindi represents, has been viewed more than 14 million times on YouTube, and has inspired Malik to release other hip hop music in Urdu. Malik sings, directs, and edits his work, and is a doctor by profession. We did a short interview with the rising rap star of Pakistan.

1. How do you explain the wild success of Pindi Aye?

Pindi Aye is a project that I was planning for a really long time. I wanted to make something to represent the land that I was born in and portray it in a way that had never been done before. When decided, planned and executed the final product we didn’t expect much response from it. All I was worried about was putting something whole. Something that satisfied my inner self as an artist. Something that I could enjoy myself. I think that’s probably the only reason it spread like fire and everyone related to it and danced to it. Not just the people in the twin cities. Everyone in the country loved it. It was played in India and was appreciated by great hip hop and non hip hop artists there.

2. Rawalpindi is not known for producing artists, unlike Karachi and Lahore. Do you think this is changing now?

Rawalpindi has always had great artists. I have seen so many talented people that I believe, if provided some sort of platform, would take this industry all the way up. Unfortunately, we don’t have many platforms. If I talk about music, something as simple as recording studios are not available for people to go and put their work out professionally but that’s changing now. People are producing and creating independently now, which helps an artist give creative freedom and in my opinion that’s even better. You will see a shift and change in the quality and quantity of the music that Rawalpindi has to offer.

3. Urdu hip hop and Urdu rap are gaining in popularity. Do you plan to continue with this genre or branch out into others as well?

For me R&B soul has always been something that excited my brain and my heart both. That is why you see more of and R&B touch in my bits of the track. As long as hip hop in Pakistan is concerned. It’s booming exponentially and people are finally accepting it. More artists, more music and more hip hop is coming out of Pakistan and that makes me feel like we are finally going to make a mark in hip hop history. As far as my music journey is concerned, I am experimenting with 2-3 different genres at a time. The prime goal is again, to make something that I am going to enjoy myself when I tune into the radio or turn on the TV.

4. You say you are self taught. Tell us more about how you made Pindi Aye.

That’s something I am really really proud of. I can not emphasize more on how self teaching yourself is so important. I have never taken courses/classes for playing instruments. Never was taught to film direct and edit professionally. I just have the passion to create and the Internet helped me find that way. In fact, by profession, I am a doctor. As hard as it is to believe, but that’s a fact. Pindi Aye was a project in which initially, only 3 people were involved. But I wanted more representation from the city so we decided to gather up other good hip hop artists from Rawalpindi and we did it, the result is out for everyone to see. For the video part, it was co directed and edited by me. Took me somewhere around 2-3 weeks I don’t remember exactly but it was a big complicated timeline.

5. What is next for Khawar Malik?

I have a few R&B and pop projects lined up. I am trying my best to put out music that’s unique. 2020 was a great year for me. Planning on owning 2021 too. My fans would get a lot of music from me to listen to in the coming months.