The incredibly talented, angry, foul-mouthed rap artist known as Faris Shafi has quietly released a couple of new singles — 'Introduction' and 'Molotov'. The title of the first song could indicate that Faris plans to put out a larger body of work. Could it be a much-awaited album? We’ll have to wait and see, but my money is on an album or an EP (a smaller version of an album) at the very least.
The first single from Faris’ releases this year, 'Introduction', carries forward the melancholic vibe from his last release from over a year ago, 'Nazar', which has already garnered over 1.4 million views.
'Introduction' shows off Faris’s prowess as a rap vocalist. He spits rap verses effortlessly, always keeping a tight flow, as if he’s trying to say a lot in a short period of time, going between sounding playful one moment, to serious and sarcastic almost the next.
Interestingly, the video of Introduction is similar to that of Nazar, in the sense that, while Nazar was filmed deep in the mountains of Gilgit Baltistan — Faris in the middle of its seemingly limitless vastness, giving the impression of him being alone and isolated — 'Introduction' has been filmed in the rocky terrain of Balochistan. It’s sandstone rocks and hills, contrasted by its turquoise pools of water from underground streams. Faris is alone and isolated here as well — in both the far north and deep south-west of the country.
Faris Shafi’s 'Introduction', carries forward the same melancholic vibe and isolation evident in his last release, Nazar
In the same manner as in 'Nazar', 'Introduction’s' music is primarily composed of two chords played on the piano with a small section on repeat and a slow electronic beat aimed at setting a slower pace to the music compared to Faris’ singing — almost as if Faris deliberately wants to create a contrast. Almost as if the music were the mountains or the environment he’s in — constant, slow to the point where its unmoving, almost still, and he stands out alone as the only object in motion.
It’s hard to find lyrics in any Faris Shafi song that don’t contain any profanity. But the following verse and chorus carry the gist of the song. The Faris we have now is post-jaded, coming back to life, making his peace with both the bad and the good this world has to offer, poking fun at materialistic values and displaying incredible vulnerability at the same time as well.
“Leave the beef on the seekh kebab/ Unleash the beat on the speaker box/ A sea of people taught me corruption/ Leikin yeh to hai introduction/ I see the feeling meray lafz [my words]/ Just seem to me to be/ A reduction, a collection/ A selection of blocked emotion/ I got the potion/ Oh s*** your ship is sinkin’/ And you know what I’m thinkin’/ Main soch raha hoon ke… [I am thinking that…]”
And then on to a section of the chorus verse: Ehsaas-e -kamtari ki/ Misalain ban chuki thee/ Alfredo fettuccini/ Aur red ho Lamborghini/ Aur ek dabba Shahi Sipari ho…
[Of inferiority complexes/ Examples were given/ Alfredo fettuccini/ And a red Lamborghini/ And a box of Shahi Supari]
Faris is revered in the independent music scene, and beyond. He’s talented but I wonder when he’ll collaborate with his moody-but-in-a-totally-different-way sister Meesha Shafi? While his famous sister writes music ('Main', 'Leela') that comes across as almost ethereal, it would be interesting to see the kind of music this sibling duo would produce together.
One can only hope this collaboration happens sometime sooner rather than later.
Originally published in Dawn, ICON, September 5th, 2021