Earlier in the week Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly created five new resolutions for public interest and among them was a ban against objectionable music concerts in all educational institutions. One of the genres identified as objectionable was Hip-Hop. After making some amendments to the original proposal, the resolutions passed the House with a majority vote. Hip-Hop was declared objectionable due to the fact that the authorities in Pakistan feel the music is of poor taste and values. The new ban leaves Hip-Hop fans in Pakistan in a tough situation. This resolution follows an incident that took place last year.
Last year as an attempted positive gesture, the United States took a Chicago Hip-Hop group called the FEW Collective to Islamabad. The group rapped, danced, and recited poetry to an elite educated Westernized group of young Pakistanis. Things went okay until the group ended up being detained by authorities. They were detained because one member took pictures of some “sensitive” subjects in the city of Rawalpindi. The city is home to the high end army headquarters. The member was not aware that they couldn’t take pictures. This was not the first time that the United States has used music in the name of diplomacy though. The U.S. has been using music for political purposes since back in the early 1900′s. However, Hip-Hop has not been well received as a medium due to the fact that authorities are so opposed to the form of expression. Last year’s misunderstanding is not the only negative incident involving Hip-Hop that has occurred in Pakistan as of late either. A concert took place in the city of Lahore and ended up creating a stampede which left three students dead.
Sources say that the views of America in Pakistan hurts Hip-Hop’s ability to flourish in the country too. Research and polls show that only about 12 percent of Pakistanis have a positive opinion of America, 16 percent are not sure how they feel, and a whopping 73 percent have a negative opinion of the American culture. Despite all of the unfavorable feelings towards America, reports say that there is a popular form of music in Pakistan that has traits that are similar to Hip-Hop. The style is called Qawwali and is a traditional form of music in the country. It’s similarities to Hip-Hop are said to be found in the complex vocal structures and in the improvised style of the lyrics. Pakistan is not the only country to issue some type of ban against Hip-Hop. China has the same negative feelings about the genre and has banned several rappers and their music from the internet and personal websites.
Hip-Hop may not be allowed in Pakistan but it is alive and well in Milwaukee. Some of the local members of the Southside Hip-Hop community are putting together an event tomorrow night called Sounds From The Othaground 2. It is taking place at a venue called Tha Spot and details can be found here.