Henry Wadsworth Longfellow defines music as the universal language of mankind. What expressed through music is the musician’s inside or around. Love, betray, patriotism and joy are emotions that are usually expressed through tunes. Hate, corruption, prejudice, war, riots, conflict, extremism and terrorism are the bad sides of society and unfortunately we, the Pakistanis, have witnessed them badly since our country’s inception. This is the time when one is concerned about his/her society and this is where the music depicts it too.
As music is simply human emotion, social issues music’s history is old too. Rage against the machine (An American band of 1990s) presented fiercely polemical music with heavy metal instrumentation. One of the greatest names of western music Michael Jackson also raised voice against prejudice.
Talking about Najam Sheraz, his song “Yeh baat kisay maloom nahin”(1996) is a curious song. The song highlights the deprived part of the society and how the “sarmaye ke bhookay sher” (capitalists / politicians) exploit them. This song was censored on national TV and the reason was its being against establishment. “Sona chahta hoon” (1
995) is a song where Najam sheraz wildly cried for Kashmiris. The one-of-its-kind screaming song was banned on national radio (reason: the lyrics and vocal performance was too wild for the youth).
Jazba, a band appeared in early 90s, were also one of the few musicians who raised voice against Indian aggression in
Another band likely to be mentioned here is Strings who have just came back with Atif Aslam in “Ab khud kuch karma parega”. It is a messag
e to Pakistanis to standup against terrorism and fear. Earlier, they’ve also done “Berut”, a song for Gaaza.
Karavan, the rock band of masters, also set a benchmark in social issues. ‘Rakh aas’ and ‘Yeh zindagi hai’ are the band’s social thoughts.
How can one forget the lahori band Entity Paradigm (EP) here? Kahan hai tu and Humain aazma represent youth and motivation while the aggressive song “Fitrat” questions the elite for exploiting people “Bol qabeel tu chahta hai
kya, uska haq ya ke uski dua?”… the lyrics are amazing specially at a place where he says “Kaghaz k tukray (money) to dikha jinhain jor ke tu bana khuda”. Tremendous stuff!!!
In 2007, when
Money is everything, says the band Azal in song ‘Aisi Taisi’. The song with excellent music arrangement and strong lyrics depicts society running after money. It is voice of a rebel.
Socio-political satire can’t be unnoticed when talking about social issues. Shehzad Roy tops the list with ‘Laga reh’ and ‘Qismat apne hath main’. His lyrics are always strong and thought-provoking and through satire, he has successfully delivered his wakeup call. As a social activist,
A lot of other musicians have also attempted music on social issues but the ones mentioned above were the milestones in the industry. Music surely reflects what’s around in our society and Pakistani music does it well.