Afrobeat, Arabic music and Pakistani rap

In recent years, interest in Arabic music has increased. Social media platforms have popularised talented Arab musicians and allowed them to reach new audiences, with events such as Beirut Groove Collective, Laylit and DJ Nooriyah’s Middle of Nowhere selling out in London, New York and other Western metropolises. Habibi Funk is a Western label that promotes Arab music and Arab artists, often from years ago, for whom music was a form of cultural exchange.


The rap duo Pahnji Gang, created by Pakistani siblings, is gaining popularity among young people in rural Sindh province who are disillusioned with the situation in the country. The duo’s songs discuss sexual violence, “honour” killings, police brutality, child labour and forced disappearances. The duo cannot afford a recording studio; they use a computer and microphone bought with money from their deceased father. They claim that music allows them to “talk freely” about topics that society “conveniently sweeps under the carpet because it causes anxiety.”

Nigeria’s Yahoo Boys – groups of cybercriminals that mainly use email and text messages to cheat and make money – are closely associated with Afrobeat music. In the last decade, the Yahoo Boys have become patrons of the arts, establishing record labels and financing music projects. Musicians raised in slums turn to online fraudsters to help them develop their careers. The artists later return the favour by glorifying the activities of criminals in their lyrics.

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