There is a comfort in knowing that someone shares the same wounds as you do and a calm in singing that pain away or rapping it to the people who are still hoping for a morning that will not remind them of the absence of someone they loved or something they lost.

Most of Faris Shafi’s raps are indicators, poignant whispers, or agonizing screams to remind us that our graves have been dug, but we are still alive.

It is said, the undertaker feeds only off the fear of death and I feel Lahore has learnt that there’s much more to death than just a long slumber; it is a lot more of what is left behind.

When Faris dropped his last collaboration with Ali Sethi and when he spilled rhymes for Abdullah Siddiqui, it felt like parts of us that were buried had crawled out from under the earth. It feels as though most of what we have buried ourselves, still lives on, waiting for us to come back.

Watching Faris at LMM5 and listening to him call out to us, made our bones rattle and our hands were raised, just to be dropped at each beat and bar the rapper threw at us.

And his calling has come to us in the time we most need it. When the country is being bullied by those that use faith to manipulate us and choke the freedom of expression.

When artists, writers and directors are bullied for their craft, it is high time for us to listen to those who speak whatever they want, whenever they want.

From Awaam in 2012 to Jawab De in 2018, Faris Shafi has shown what an artist should be allowed to do and what he can do.

Faris has always been extremely vocal as an artist, which has in turn made him an advocate of freedom of expression. His rhymes are wake up calls asking us to see that which is hidden. In an interview for Courrier International, Faris discussed his fear of freedom of expression being curtailed in Pakistan.

He said, “I’ve spoken about things that people don’t speak about…The UNSPEAKABLE.. And living here I feel I might have a security threat, if I go out and say things the way they are like not sugarcoat them, and say them raw.. Then I feel that we don’t have that freedom of speech here. We don’t! If somebody disagrees with you, it ends with violence, Violence is ALWAYS there!” 

Recently at LMM5, Faaris did it again. He didn’t care and that perhaps is why people loved him. They rapped with him as though their voices were held within the rhymes he dropped.

After recent events regarding Sarmad khoosat’s Zindagi Tamasha, I suppose a lot needs to be addressed, and a lot needs to be done. I know what it is to watch a man shoved into a wall for his art and I know his shout with rage is sharp enough to cut through any soul. I also know what it is to fashion that rage into a hunt for empathy, even among people that probably have none.

And if all else fails, atleast people will regret not worshipping what should have been.

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