KARACHI: Coke Studio 2020 has been producing some really good music this year. When Na Tutteya Ve came out as the first track of the season and featured a rap verse by Meesha Shafi, we thought we had a favourite. Turns out, Coke Studio had an entire rap track by Bohemia in store for its fans. Titled Saari Dunya, the song is about Bohemia’s struggle as an artist and the downside of fame.
While the title hints at the rest of the world, the track itself talks about loneliness. Written by Bohemia, the song opens with a chorus of “Meri yeh dastaan suno” (listen to this tale of mine) before the rap artist takes over to tell his story. The rhythm immediately changes once Bohemia takes control of the mic and hints at the betrayal he has faced in the very first verse. “Jis doobtay ko bachaya wohi bharay kashti main paani meri” (the one I saved from drowning now floods my boat with water) he sings as he recalls those who fail to recognize him now. The camera work and direction of the video which has been improvised keeping the social distancing rules in mind also fits in well with the lyrics. While four backing vocalists sit together and sing the chorus, Bohemia stands alone in a darker room and in a darker attire, rapping about his struggles.
Bohemia is known as the king of desi rap and an artist who rose from the streets to immense fame. His music inspired other underground artists and street children as his poetry was raw and often a social commentary. Having struggled with poverty and love as a teenager, Bohemia found his comfort in poetry. Performing “School di Kitaab” in Coke Studio Season 5, Bohemia sang how school kids memorized his poetry more often than they memorized their course work. In Saari Dunya, Bohemia confesses how his poetry is being erased from people’s memory, much like the content of an academic book. Recognizing the downfall that comes with rising fame, the disappointment can be felt in the artist’s voice and his expressions. Bohemia describes himself as the king of the jungle, sitting under the forest of trees which he planted. But he’s no longer sitting under the shade of the trees which are being cut down by those who came after him.
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However, the artist chooses to see light in the darkness and has a positive approach. “I am a candle in the night, I am a song without words”, he bounces back. The background music also slows down at this point, allowing for Bohemia’s vocals to truly have their impact on the listeners while a dhol softly accompanies him in the background.
Thus, Saari Dunya ends up being about the individual and how one has the capacity to rise above all hardships as long as they recognize their worth. Bohemia knows his roots and his contributions towards the music industry with his rap. The beauty of rap will always remain in its ability to tell the truth and challenge the status quo. There may be numerous rappers but each artist has their own story to tell and Bohemia has narrated his in the best way he knows.