I came across Hasan Raheem’s music by accident. It was in the background of an Instagram video of yet another hippie shop selling organic, handmade, straight-from-the-hands-of-the-indigenous-community-they-have-been-appropriated-from items — of which there are many, many out there on Instagram, having mushroomed especially during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
The song that was playing was Hasan’s previous release, from last year, Aisay Kaisay, in which he’s collaborated with Abdullah Kasumbi. It’s a pop song. A slow, beautifully produced, romantic number. The production shifts between making it sound like you’re listening to it over the radio to stepping into the studio.
It’s an effect that Abdullah Kasumbi also uses on their next collaboration together. The lyrics are incredibly flirtatious and playful.
Case in point:
Subha ko aankh khultay yaad tera aana/ Yeh kaisa majra hai jana?/ Adayein teri woh jo dil ko chhoo gayi thien/ Kabhi na kuchh bhi main kaha na/ Kabhi na. (Remembering you the moment my eyes open in the morning/ What is this state of affairs?/ Your coquettry that touched my heart/ I never said a word/ Never.)
The video is simple. Hasan is out in a pink sweatshirt grooving on the street outside at the break of dawn. It’s simple, well-executed and somehow works.
His latest song, another romantic track, is called Joona. This one’s a bit more upbeat. The video is again, simple but well-produced. It’s Hasan out on a grocery run, singing and dancing in the isles of the store. Joona is incredibly catchy and has us dancing back home.
Hasan sings with a heavy, very burger-esque Urdu accent. The accent is so strong, in fact, that the first time I heard the song, I couldn’t understand what he was saying, except "my Joona".
Popped the headphones on and suddenly the whole song was clear. That’s because Hasan’s singing style is a bit cool, low-key, the opposite of loud, and in Joona it almost sounds like Hasan’s casually humming the song next to you.
In his signature style, the lyrics of Joona (a term of endearment for his beloved) are playful and flirtatious.
Some of them go:
Nazrein yeh ruk na payein/ Dhoondna tumhay hi chaahein/ Main ziddi kharra hoon dat ke/ Khaata khula hai yeh jo/ Sambhalon main ab iss ko/ I’m going on it tonight. (My eyes don’t stop searching/ Looking only for you/ I’m obstinately standing my ground/ Now that this ledger has opened/ I have to take care of it/ I’m going on it tonight.)
If you listen closely, you’ll notice there’s even a small section in Hasan’s native Shina language. It’s easy to miss, but it’s there. This song is best listened to on the headphones, in the car with very good speakers or any space that will isolate the sound for you to fully appreciate the groovy guitar and bass line in the strings section.
The music and video has been produced by Abdullah Kasumbi, with whom Hasan has collaborated on several of his other tracks. The guitars on the track are by Mustafa Hasan.
Originally from Gilgit, Hasan Raheem has moved to Karachi to study to be a doctor. Music, however, seems to be where his heart really lies. Judging by some of their other releases, Hasan Raheem and Abdullah Kasumbi are definitely a duo to watch out for.
This piece was originally published in Dawn, ICON, January 10th, 2021