Shahzad’s rap attempts a resurrection not only of a distinct Sindhi language, but also a Sindhi culture. His songs aren’t just in Sindhi, he also sees them as a continuation of the long Sindhi tradition of Sufi poems. While other Pakistani rappers, prominently BillyX, rap about topics deeply taboo in Pakistani society – sex and intoxicants – Shahzad seeks to reinvigorate a more traditional subject matter. But why through rap? Why resuscitate a tradition through a medium that is foreign to it? He likens it to wearing western dress when going to school; the medium does not compromise the message.
Languages such as Punjabi and Pashto offer a versatile slang to many a Pakistani street. And the streets are where lyrics overwhelmingly situate rap. The introduction of Punjabi-American rap into Pakistan invigorated its rappers by furnishing them with a vernacular familiar with their experiences. Far from a shadow of its American progenitor, contemporary Pakistani rap thrives in engaged dialectic with local and global trends in the genre.
As a cultural production with a decidedly liberal agenda, Khuda Ke Liye’s failure to challenge the conflation of Islamic religious conservatism with misogyny and anti-Americanism, and the converse equation of liberalism with feminism and pacifism vis-à-vis the U.S., highlights an internalization of the War on Terror narrative among many Pakistani liberals.