“Pindi aye, Pindi aye Shehr ye Pindi hai” We’re sure you’ve been hearing and grooving to this music since the first time you heard it. Having collaboration with Young Stunners, OCL and Team Backpack, Hashim Nawaz has elevated the name of Rawalpindi in Pakistan’s Hip Hop Music and Rap business with hits like this and many others. We were fortunate to have a chance to catch up with him on the location of his forthcoming project and have a quick chit chat session.
Hello Hashim! For those who don’t know you yet, could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background?
Hello! Well, I’m a 28-year-old rapper from Rawalpindi. I was born in Multan but I have spent almost all my life growing up in Rawalpindi. My full name is Hashim Nawaz
What got you into rap music?
I’ve had an interest in music ever since I was very young. Due to this interest, I took piano lessons when I was in class 2. My piano skills gradually improved and playing the piano had become an everyday hobby for me. It wasn’t until I reached class 5 that I listened to Eminem and 50 cents and realized I had developed a newfound interest in Rap. I remember memorizing their lyrics and after a year or two, I started writing my own music.
How long has music been a part of your life?
For as long as I can remember. For me, quality music has always been a source of inspiration.
How would you describe your style of music?
It is mainly old-school hip-hop rap, inspired by J.Cole, Snoop Dogg, TUPAC, and Eminem. However, recently I’ve been experimenting with Trap. I’ve also been collaborating with producers who make different music. But like I said, it’s mainly old-school rap.
If it wasn’t for music, where would you be now?
I would be exactly where I am right now because music has always been a side hustle for me, and I plan to keep it that way. Music does not lie on the top of my priority list but yes, it is one of the important priorities in my life. This is exactly why if it wasn’t for music, I would be exactly where I am right now.
What’s the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Haha, I can recall various incidents where I had gotten myself into trouble. Growing up, I was a risk-taker, got myself into fights and whatnot. However, I’ve always had a knack for fixing my own mess. Despite getting into deep troubles, I’ve experienced personal growth and the importance of what truly matters.
What’s the Future of Hip-Hop Music in Pakistan?
I am one of those people who are among the first generation of rappers in Pakistan and I believe that the future of Rap in Pakistan is very bright, since a large number of rappers are emerging from different cities of Pakistan and doing amazing work.
What do you consider your role as an artist?
I think as an artist it’s a huge responsibility for me to give a message to my listeners through my rap. I tend to write about stuff that is relatable in some way or another, which I believe is very important. I aim on uplifting the spirits of my listeners and I also hope that my music is a source of positive energy for them.
What do you think is the difference when you work with an association, a pop singer, or a rapper? Do you think there is a specific approach for each genre?
Yes, there is definitely a specific approach to each genre because in every genre of music you have to approach the track with a different vibe. It depends on the artist you are collaborating with, if you aim at creating a good track, the chemistry between you and the person you’re collaborating with needs to match. The featuring artist needs to sync their vibe with the owner of the song/track.
How do you put words to paper? What’s your creative process like?
To be fairly honest, I still haven’t really figured out the process which is followed in writing a piece of music, because every time I write, there is a different set of steps that I follow. I think for me, it is partially a ‘sudden moment’ of inspiration in addition to the skill that I believe I have acquired through practice over a long period of time.
When it comes to performing, what’s your style?
I am inspired by the performing styles of rappers like TUPAC, J.Cole, Eminem, and Kendrick. I often watch their live performances and implement their styles on me while keeping my originality intact and not entirely mimicking a certain artist’s style. It is more like seeing whose style is more similar to what I want to express as an individual, and then expressing it on stage. I think a bolt of energy is a very important possession when it comes to first stepping on the stage and performing.
What makes you different from other rappers in the industry?
I think every rapper is different from every other rapper because every person has a different story to tell. In Rap, it is all about representation. Where you come from, what you represent, and how you choose to express yourself. Since everyone has a different way of expressing themselves, therefore every rapper is unique by default. However, what I believe makes me stand out is that I can be both gangster and sentimental. I try to be as versatile as possible. Another thing that I feel like I can be effortlessly good at is his wordplays.
Who’s your fashion icon, and why?
No one in particular. Fashion for me is all about what reflects you as a person and not what is trending.
How do you accept criticism?
I think humbly accepting criticism is essential for personal growth. The hate a person gets is also an indication of growth. I do not react negatively towards criticism nor do I ever let it get to my head. Criticism oftentimes proves to be healthy. You learn a lot about your work through the love you receive from your fans along with the criticism you receive.
How do you think the Internet has reshaped the music business?
The Internet has completely reshaped the music business for the better. Before the internet took the world by storm, there were limited TV channels and platforms for people to showcase their talents. Whereas now, a person sitting in the vicinity of their room can release an entire album with few necessary equipments. YouTube and digital platforms have given equal opportunity to everyone around the world to express their talents. Now, I personally believe the competition is tougher than before.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Would you say you’re at all like them?
I look up to Eminem, J.Cole, TUPAC to name a few, but I wouldn’t say I am like them as I do not know what they are like personally. The changes in me that reflect them are due to inspiration or influence but not because I am ‘personally’ like them in any way. I try to keep my inspiration with the music rather than the musician.
What advice would you give to enthusiastic artists out there?
I would advise the young aspiring artists out there to be themselves, be inspired but do not steal art. Do not be influenced by social media, and destructive criticism. Focus on the art and enjoy the process.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
I think the answer to that is ever-changing. As of now, I would say J.cole, but if I was asked this question a few years back it would’ve been someone else.
Do you have any kooky habits we should know about?
I wouldn’t say it fits the definition of kooky, but I tend to notice small details that usually go unnoticed and make it seem like I didn’t notice them at all.
What do you feel makes your expression unique?
I try to keep my rap more towards the technical side, which is why it oftentimes becomes more difficult to understand. Like I previously said, rap is all about representation. The more strongly a person represents themselves, the more unique their expression will turn out to be. My strong suit however is ‘wordplays’
If you could improve anything about the industry, what would it be?
I think the music industry in Pakistan hasn’t really fully developed yet, so it is difficult for me to say that it needs any sort of improvement. The platforms that we see in front of us are social media platforms and they cannot be regarded strictly as ‘music industry’. I believe that people should try to focus on the art form which is made/presented by the artist rather than just see their numbers and judge them.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
I would like my fans to give more priority to the art form rather than solely appreciating the artist. Because in doing that, you’ll be able to recognize good art whenever you come across it. If you stick to one artist, you will not be able to identify the versatility of music that is possible or the diversity that can be brought for the people. An artist will not experiment much if you stick to a certain fixed form of music that you like. Refrain from obsessing over any of your favorite artists, because artists come and go, but if you truly appreciate the art form you’ll be able to enjoy the music and the content which is being made.