Monday, May 21, 2012

When King of Self Inspired

I'm going through my old stuff, clearing things out, when I came across a CD. I put it into my computer to see what comes up, and it turns out this was one of the first CD's I ever burned when I got my own computer. This was a presentation I made for a student government group I was a part of. We had to make an "inspirational" video, and coming fresh out of Pakistan (but making sure I didn't look too fresh of the boat) I made a presentation incorporating one of my earliest, and true loves, Modern Pakistani Music.

But these weren't Pakistanis.

I needed a familiar hook. Enter a rap song. Specifically, the intro to a cartoon I loved known as "The Boondocks".

This, with it's lyrics, was my "inspiration".

I just used the audio, but way back in the ultra reactionary days of 2005-2006, when the groundswell was really building for the liberal backlash, warmed over leftist rhetoric & imagery from three decades back, garnished with a tussle with gangsta rap was the most "militant" that resistance went to the reigning conservative "consensus".

It took the inflation and collapse of the real estate bubble to bring this resistance to the surface.

But I digress. Here is the powerpoint presentation that came with this.

And finally, my Pièce de Résistance, my stake at Pakistaniat in front of the vilayiti crowd, my group identity, pride and inspiration: King Of Self.

My audience was a little non-plussed. Maybe because artistic integrity is not a new concept in the Vilayat. I was just glad to get "my" turn at doing something "inspirational" out of the way. I at least burned a CD full of stuff I cared about. I remember a girl once, in one of these sessions, showed Napoleon Dynamite's weird dance scene. Her message was, I think, don't be afraid to be unique.

Now there's Coke Studio. Back then, there was a dearth of art or media, aside from news, with overt messages. Sajid and Zeeshan's King of Self, stepping away from the Indus Music Nursery and stressing on personal and artistic integrity, was a bit of a relief. It demonstrated that conscience could mix with integrity. Of course that stab at conscience did go awry with a few acts.

The new season of Coke Studio has begun. The first episode was as usual excellent. Pakistani music and art don't need validation. They've stood on their own two feet and stared down some precipitous odds.

A few months after I made this presentation, Musharraf called Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in to ask for his resignation. He refused and the rest has been shipping container loads of history since then.

This was accompanied by an explosion of arts in Pakistan. Along with explosions of another kind.

I can now throw that CD away in good conscience.

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