Have you heard of the Pindi Boyz? Three years after their super hit single ‘Pindi Aye,’ the seven-member group is back with a new single and a new music video featuring the Pindi Boy — Sheikh Rasheed.
The Pindi Boyz — emphasis on the z — consist of seven members: Hashim Nawaz, Zeeru, Hamzee, Shuja Shah, Usman Ghauri, OCL and Khawar Malik.
Three years ago, eight solo artists collaborated on the much-loved ‘Pindi Aye,’ which blew up online and racked up 22 million views.
“It was about a month before Covid hit and we received so much love on that song. It has 22 million views on YouTube,” Osama Karamat, also known as OCL, told Images. “We didn’t expect it at all!”
After the success of the song, everyone went their own ways but no one found the success ‘Pindi Aye’ achieved. “I called up Hashim and told him to get everyone together,” Karamat said. They recently released ‘Pindi Aye 2.0,’ which has hit two million views.
The Pindi Boyz are obviously all from Pindi and all of them are currently based there too — except for their producer, Ghauri, who works with them remotely from Bahrain. He was born and bred in Pindi though, I was assured.
It was only right to title their new song ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’, Karamat says, as a homage of sorts to their initial claim to fame. There are seven of them now but they’re still the same Pindi Boyz — albeit with a z.
The name might be amusing to some — the term is not a complimentary one — but they’re well aware of it. “There’s a comedic image or ‘ganda’ stigma attached to the phrase,” Karamat explained. “Through the first project, we wanted to make it cool to be a Pindi boy.”
Pindi boys — without the z — are often typecast as stereotypically sleazy and show offs. But with the arrival of ‘Pindi Aye,’ even Islamabadis — often the biggest detractors of Pindi boys — were sharing their song. “It’s only fair to call the group Pindi Boyz,” he explained. “None of us look like ‘typical Pindi boys,’ so it was a no brainer,” said Karamat.
The OG Pindi boy
But perhaps the biggest surprise of ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’ was the inclusion of Sheikh Rasheed — the OG Pindi boy. “We wanted him on the first track but we weren’t able to get access,” Karamat said. But their perseverance paid off and three years later, they were finally able to have him featured in their music video.
It took a two-month “wild goose chase” but he made an appearance as a cross between a mafioso and Nick Fury in the music video. The Boyz went over to meet him on the third day of Eid with the intro in mind.
In the music video, he sits in typical Sheikh Rasheed fashion and lazily smokes a cigar as he hands them a black dossier. The Boyz stand before him in all black, looking serious as if they are being handed a secret mission — to unite the Pindi Boyz.
The politician agreed to the video but initially didn’t understand what the Pindi Boyz wanted to do. “He was like, ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’? So they want to make a new Pindi?” Karamat laughed. They ended up showing him the first video — which he loved — and getting some pointers from him. He wanted them to promote the city even more.
“For the video, we told him to just ‘be you’,” said Karamat. Rasheed, known for his eccentric ways and man-of-the-people vibe — who can forget him arriving at the PTI-AML protest at Pindi’s Committee Chowk on the back of a motorbike and then hot-footing it towards the police — was perfect for the role. “Political stuff aside, he looked like Nick Fury while handing us the dossier,” Karamat chuckled.
The Pindi Boyz spent about two and a half hours with him and he was “really cool”. That he was so laidback came as a slight surprise to them, given that everyone had set him up to be an intimidating man. “It was very chill, very laidback. He was like one of us,” Karamat said.
The first song was an amalgamation of several independent artists “winging it”. This time around, it was tougher to get everyone on the same page but the Pindi Boyz knew the formula for success — don’t try too hard. “People connected with the song then and they connected with it now again,” explained Karamat.
The colours have been changed up and the music is more energetic, but it’s still the Pindi Boyz, talking about their favourite city. If ‘Pindi Aye’ was “gangster”, ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’ is more hiphop, according to the rapper.
“This song is more mainstream. We’re capturing Pindi again and [this time it’s] colourful, vibrant and fun.” Sheikh Rasheed was, of course, the cherry on top, but he wasn’t the only part of Pindi that was captured in the music video.
A behind the scenes video from the music video shoot on their YouTube page reveals just how many people came out to celebrate the Pindi Boyz. We had to let go of a lot of footage, Karamat said.
They filmed in some of Pindi’s most iconic spots — Fawara Chowk in Raja Bazaar — and as they marched in, 300 to 350 people gathered. When they filmed in the Metro they got permission to do so through the proper channels, but everything public was done “Pindi Boyz style”.
“Pindi is different, a lot more loving. Mobs do form but no one interrupts. It would have been different [had we filmed] in Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad,” he said, adding that each city has its own vibe. “We received nothing but love.”
Organic > bought
From the start, when we spoke about the 22 million views on ‘Pindi Aye’ — and the two million on ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’ — Karamat used the word “organic”. Reaching these numbers organically is something he’s very passionate about. Only Young Stunners have done it, he explained. “They’re destroying the number game organically,” he emphasised.
What’s the alternative, you may wonder. People buy views, likes and follows, Karamat said, explaining that you can tell the difference in real versus purchased likes and follows from engagement. This isn’t a new claim — many people have called out social media influencers and the like for buying fake followers and artists for manipulating music video views using bots and other mechanisms to send numbers soaring.
“We put out stories before the shoot and said we’re going to be in Saddar, food street, at this time on this date and that’s it.” That was enough for a crowd of 400 people to show up, no questions asked. “If our fame hadn’t come organically, no one would have turned up,” the rapper said.
That is when they realised what they had created.
Before the government suspended mobile data and several social media sites early May, they were looking at 200,000 to 250,000 views a day on their video. They hit one million views in four days. “It was tough because it was a new channel, but people showed up,” said Karamat.
The boys are back in town
‘Pindi Aye’ has a cult fanbase. The goal was to get those fans on the Pindi Boyz side.
The three-year gap didn’t really divide the fans, according to Karamat. And it’s not like none of the Boyz collaborated as individual artists. The only difference was that they didn’t have everyone back to create music together.
We at Images heard of ‘Pindi Aye 2.0’ via TikTok. Not from the song being used in the background of a video, but a take on a particular TikTok trend featuring the Pindi Boyz and Sheikh Rasheed.
“I’m always thinking [about these things],” Karamat said. They hadn’t really planned anything when going to meet the politician other than the main video. But when inspiration struck, “it was game over”.
“We had finished our shoot and while talking, I was brought it up. I told Zeeru my idea and said it’s cringey but this is a mafia vibe, so it only made sense,” said the rapper.
At the time of ‘Pindi Aye’, they were all solo artists. The one thing they can all agree on for the Pindi Boyz is the genre — hiphop.
Five of them are already knee-deep in the genre, except for Khawar who’s a singer.
But being solo artists was “very, very tough”. “With TikTok, attention spans have gone to sh*t. It’s really killed audiences unless there’s a cult fanbase involved,” explained Karamat. “You could be putting out the best of the best but someone does a dance and they’re a viral superstar.”
They found that working together helped them get the traction that they were otherwise missing in their solo projects. “I was doing English music until ‘Pindi Aye’ and it was decent. It was tough overall, it was tough for everyone,” he explained. “No one was getting the traction that ‘Pindi Aye’ got.”
To their minds, hiphop had peaked in Pakistan when Young Stunners were announced as the PSL anthem artists and Ranveer Singh’s Gully Boy was released. “It was after Gully Boy that Pakistani brands started paying attention to our own rappers. It took India [making a movie] for them to realise [their importance],” he lamented.
But hiphop is here to stay, it seems. The Pindi Boyz have already made a bunch of music together. “We’ve knocked out a bunch of music — the next five singles and we’re shooting music videos for the second and third songs. We also have a cool collab on the fourth song with a badass Pakistani artist,” he said.
They have seven songs planned out so far with five completed and two in progress.
The Pindi Boyz are working on the Wu Tang Klan model. “There are seven of them too. The main guy, RZA, has this vision where they all work under the umbrella of the Wu Tang Klan and focus on the group and then solo projects and then the group again,” Karamat explained.
They want to follow the Wu Tang Klan blueprint, with all of them working under the Pindi Boyz banner.
So far, the plan is working. They’re still riding the wave of the first song and its momentum has launched them to stardom. They make money from YouTube and Spotify and, with the recent uptick in music festivals and concerts in the country, things are looking good for the Pindi Boyz.