Straight Outta Karachi: 'Rap music is required where injustice takes place'
Lyari Underground speaks to the struggles of Karachi's poorest district
Pakistani rap group Lyari Underground (L.U.G.) hails from Karachi's poorest district, Lyari, which until recently was plagued by severe gang wars. At the height of the violence, 800 locals were killed in one year.
Founding member Abdul Ahad, a.k.a. Anxiously, is determined to speak about his community truth through rap: "Whatever is going on right here — Lyari, the community, the injustice — we will discuss it. We are not afraid of anyone — to tell the truth to the people."
Rap is required where injustice takes place, where people are discriminated [against]. My ambition is to let people know what rap music is and what impact it can have on their lives.- Abdul "Anxiously" Ahad
L.U.G.'s music confronts gang warfare, joblessness, neglect and the struggles of Lyari youth — a message that resonates in their community and connects them to struggles around the world. "Whether it's Lyari or Malir / Wherever you go, you face the same situation," goes a line from their track "Players of Lyari."
In 2008, Anxiously was encouraged by a teacher at his high school to listen to English music in order to improve his language skills. In the process, he discovered rap — and found that the brutal realities described by American rappers were the same as those faced by the people of Lyari.
We are not afraid of anyone — to tell the truth to the people.- Abdul "Anxiously" Ahad
The group's single "Players of Lyari" has become an anthem to the neighbourhood and its young boys, who look up to the group as leaders changing the negative narrative of Lyari.
"Rap is required where injustice takes place, where people are discriminated [against]. My ambition is to let people know what rap music is and what impact it can have on their lives."
Art as political protest, as a means of survival, as an agent of change, as a display of courage and delight. Interrupt This Program explores art in cities under pressure. See more of Lyari Underground's story and other artists creating in the face of terror in Interrupt This Program: Karachi this Friday, November 10th at 8:30pm on CBC TV and online. Watch episodes from Mexico City, Jakarta, Nairobi, Chicago and more now.