Osama Com Laude’s tryst with rap music

May 17, 2020

Colloquially known as OCL, the Rawalpindi-based rapper finally unveils his new EP paKING that is full of colourful, explicit material and one too many collaborations.

Clever and inventive are words that can be used to describe Osama Com Laude’s (OCL) debut EP, paKING; a clear and present change from his amateur efforts prior to this EP with singles like ‘Baghdad’ and ‘Chaklala Scheming’.

The latest EP contains four songs and shows he’s much more serious about music now. But each single is a collaboration, which is an oxymoron.

On one hand, it does add texture to the songs but on the other hand, it also makes you wonder if OCL can pull off a rap EP as explicit and powerful as paKING without the presence of other artists. Is this his narrative or is it coming from different experiences of different artists? It is a question only OCL can answer with future work.

The title track ‘paKING’, the first single from the album that features a monologue from Osama’s father, is his strongest release with MRKLE and Abdur handling production and the lyrical material as razor sharp as you expect from pure hip-hop.

Explicit doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing as long as it’s measured and has a reason to have a space and OCL is careful in that sense. Had he done the narration himself, it would have made it grittier for it would be one song that he owns totally. Nonetheless, this song is a fascinating opening to the EP.

‘Overdose’ is the impressive song on the EP even though it features, as OCL claims, three Houston heavyweights: Bali Shah, Fonzo AM & Myca C, with production credits belonging to TARIQ808 and Block-2. The single is both written and performed by the combined four, and that is the paradox. Whose narrative is it? Though strong because of its verses, taking a swing at Billie Eillish and Madonna seemed unnecessary. The dope bars do make up for the lacking bits and the mix of languages is what carries it as a cohesive single within the album. As OCL begins to sing, “Aray Doctor Sahib/Aap Hai Lajawaab…” he must be applauded for his crisp Urdu.

While the title track is mostly incomparable, ‘3- PEAT’ (also featuring Guru Lahori & Talha Yunus) based on the concept of The Big Three in the NBA is pretty slick. These are some strong rappers on this one and combined, for a rap fan, they’ve got the mix and they’ve got the verses.

The fourth track on the album, yet another collaboration, is a little too much. Although this one features the very popular pop/rock star Umair Jaswal, by now you’re tired of the collaborations. A solo single, even as an aberration, would’ve been welcome at this point. A bigger question is, does ‘Vehshi’ fit in this album or would it have worked better as a single, like ‘Pindi Aye’. It sounds more like an Umair Jaswal-meets-Qayaas song than an OCL track.

No doubt the album is entertaining and certainly attempts to be cohesive but the one-too-many collaborations do take some of its charm away. In the end, the EP is meant to shine a light on OCL’s evolution and while he believes in lifting others along himself, doing it with every song makes the listening experience less congenial than one had hoped for.

For now, paKING – interesting as it is – is still behind the electrifying more-than-half-a-dozen rappers featuring single, ‘Pindi Aye’ sung in multiple languages and one that has taken the prize in terms of YouTube hits and numbers.

Osama Com Laude’s tryst with rap music