Young Stunners – the duo of Talha Anjum and Talhah Yunus – are arguably the leaders of this generation’s underground scene. By underground I mean the creation of a scene from the ground up without patronage from big institutions or money. In Pakistani music, this means either TV channels or soda companies for the most part. Over the last decade or so, the Young Stunners amassed an organic following over social media that is so large that big brands, including soda companies, are now unable to ignore them.
Umair Khan, better known as Jokhay, should be considered the third Young Stunner. Jokhay produces tracks for the Stunners, when they perform together and solo. In this hip hop and electronic scene, producers often compose and arrange the entire score underneath the vocal track.
In the past year, Jokhay has been releasing singles building up to the full release of his solo album Khana Badosh. The album is a producer’s album, in that Jokhay invites frequent collaborators from the Young Stunners universe in different combinations on each track. As the rappers tell their stories, Jokhay stitches their narratives into a cohesive musical vision. The result is a triumph that represents the coronation of the underground scene from which all this music has emerged.
As a narrative, this album (and this scene overall), is about young men exploring alternative career paths. In today’s Karachi that means talking about rap, but also the social realities that require unconventional life paths and yet make them incredibly hard to forge. The variety of voices on this album makes learning about this journey very interesting.
Musically, Jokhay has crafted layered backing tracks using guitars, synths and percussion. The star however, are the hooks. While the narrative-oriented rap of this scene can think of hooks as a crutch that takes away from the main story, the hooks on this album make this scene accessible to the larger audience it now deserves. Through 2020 and 2021, Jokhay and the Stunners have made their sound more mature and polished. As a result of this, the songs are easier to listen to for newer audiences who may previously have been wary of rap. The album’s last track, Iltija, is the only track where Jokhay performs solo. It is also the only track without rap, and reveals Jokhay’s roots as a rock musician.
Here’s the album on Spotify, and I’m attaching one of my favorite songs off the album, Raabta below.