How Justin Bibis re-emerged from oblivion


It had been six years since their video, of singing Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, had gone viral on the web. Yet, the younger duo, who referred to as themselves the “Justin Bibis”, have been nonetheless struggling as artists, ready for a giant break. Then lastly final yr, they obtained simply what they have been hoping for.

In an surprising name that modified their lives, Saania Sohail, 21, and Muqadas Jandad, 18, have been requested to sing in Pakistan’s hottest music present, the Coke Studio.

The man on the road instructed Justin Bibis that Zulfiqar “Xulfi” Jabbar Khan, a celebrated Pakistani musician, was Pakistan Coke Studio season 14’s producer and was inviting them to Karachi to feature in the brand’s upcoming season.

The girls were in disbelief.

“It was an emotional moment,” the artists instructed Geo.television, talking over one another. They shared the information with their mom first, who instantly burst into tears.

Pushing boundaries with hip hop and custom

When Coke Studio introduced its upcoming season in January, Pakistanis have been nonetheless mourning their loss within the T20 Cricket World Cup semi-finals. During the identical time, surprising information surfaced of a mob lynching in Punjab.

But music was a balm on the bruises, mentioned Rafay Mahmood, a Karachi-based cultural commentator. 

“Whatever a nation is going through…Music has the chance to transform things,” he added.

Rafay Mahmood, a cultural commentator based in Karachi, Pakistan. — Rafay Mahmood
Rafay Mahmood, a cultural commentator based mostly in Karachi, Pakistan. — Rafay Mahmood

The new season of Pakistan’s Coke Studio changed its monotonous color vary with vibrantly adorned units, showcasing the brilliant colors of the Pakistani tradition and that includes new hip hop twists, which Mahmood referred to as a “cosmopolitan approach to traditional music.”

When the Justin Bibis have been launched to their Coke Studio undertaking, they discovered “Peechay Hutt” in contrast to any music they’d heard earlier than. After all, the women had Rajasthani roots and have been expert in singing conventional Pakistani music moderately than hip hop songs.

Screengrab of Justin Bibis’ music video for “Peechay Hutt”. — YouTube
Screengrab of Justin Bibis’ music video for “Peechay Hutt”. — YouTube

“For us, [Peechay Hutt] was a unique experience because it was mixed with rap, hip-hop and had elements of Rajasthani music too,” Saania Sohail mentioned.

Ms Marvel to the rescue

For the duo, the climb to the highest didn’t simply cease there.

The two hottest songs of Coke Studio this yr — “Pasoori” by Shae Gill and Ali Sethi, and “Peechay Hutt” by Talal Qureshi, Hasan Raheem and Justin Bibis — have been additionally featured within the new superhero present, Ms Marvel.

“In our community, playing music is normal but reaching fame is not,” Muqadas Jandad instructed Geo.television, “[Fame] was especially not something we expected.”

The sisters had grown up within the middle-class Shadra Imamia Colony in Lahore. From very early on they’d struggled financially, typically solely having one meal a day.

They dropped out of college of their second yr because of strain from their conservative prolonged household.

Screen grab from Ms Marvel’s episode two, featuring “Peechay Hutt” in the end credits.
Screen seize from Ms Marvel’s episode two, that includes “Peechay Hutt” in the long run credit.  

When they determined to give attention to music, family members taunted and mocked them. But their dad and mom supported their expertise, encouraging Justin Bibis to by no means surrender on their ardour for music.

Even right now, they’re impressed by the music of Noor Jehan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam, but in addition fashionable Western artists reminiscent of Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

“When it comes to music, we love it with all our heart,” the duo mentioned, finishing one another’s sentences, “When we’re singing a song or we listen to a song for the first time, we completely lose ourselves in it. Music makes us whole, it’s like it becomes a part of our soul.”

When they found “Baby” by Justin Bieber, they have been decided to be taught the music regardless of not figuring out English. So they transcribed the syllables in Urdu and ultimately discovered all of the lyrics.

They lastly gained public’s consideration in 2015 when a stranger unexpectedly recorded them singing “Baby” on the park whereas they have been taking part in the sport Antakshari.

As quickly because it was posted on YouTube, the video went viral. But views on social Media didn’t translate into work for the artists, till that decision from Coke Studio.

“That day, we received so many calls congratulating us that we both decided to take turns picking up five calls at a time,” Saania Sohail mentioned laughing. “Everyone was congratulating us and we loved it.”

The rise and fall of musicians

The rags to riches story will not be uncommon for Pakistani artists.

Mahmood recollects a well-liked band referred to as Chakwal Group, a bunch of conventional singers from Punjab’s Chakwal. Their final look was in Coke Studio from a decade in the past in season 5.

“They came, people talked about [them] and they vanished,” Mahmood summarized. “We’re living in the sad reality of either: you take the opportunity when you’re given the highball and start working on it, which none of these people are, because they don’t have enough exposure as to how to understand the audience. Or you just rise and fade away.”

He says the issue is that Pakistani singers that usually go viral come from humble backgrounds, reminiscent of labourers, who don’t have the luxurious of solely pursuing music. However, to remain fashionable after going viral, small Pakistani artists must proceed producing distinctive, never-seen-before music — which is unlikely for the working class.

“It’s sad because the last I heard of [Justin Bibis], I think, was about seven or eight years back, and then they faded away,” Mahmood mentioned. “Now my question is, will they fade away again?”

Mahmood believes one other difficulty lies in the truth that Pakistan has no sustainable Business mannequin for artists and on prime of that, no steady financial system, which leaves little room for small artists to interrupt by means of and keep on the prime.

Instead, Mahmood sees hope in social Media platforms like TikTok for Pakistan’s rising artists.

Many TikTokers these days are normally middle-class, ultimately, rise from nowhere and make a good residing out of it – in contrast to plenty of struggling artists in Pakistan, who solely depend on the standard system to be part of the inventive financial system.

“Pakistan music industry is not an industry — it’s a music scene,” Mahmood defined, “Because music is not an organised Business in Pakistan…the West has its own economy and there are so many skilled musicians who you might never hear about, who are still doing well for themselves. That is not possible in Pakistan.”

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