KARACHI : There’s a saying in the music industry that no matter what new ground one tries to conquer, Sajjad and Waqar Ali have been there done that.
Although debatable, the brothers continue to believe it holds true. Both, seasoned musicians and newcomers reminisce how they made Sajjad listen to a new song only to hear, “Acha hai par mein or Vicky yeh 90s mein kar chukay hain”.
There’s no denying that if Alamgir is king, then Sajjad is very much the prince of Pakistani pop. But any prince surrounded by yes men for long loses control of whatever transpires outside the castle.
“Who cares if AR Rahman praised my singing? If he is AR Rahman, then I am Sajjad Ali” and “I won’t produce Coke Studio episode as I deserve an entire season” are just two of the many instances of Sajjad’s ego squandering a chance to remain relevant.
This is around the same time when Tum Naraz Ho had become history, as had Har Zulm. It is also when Sajjad bhai probably realised how difficult it is to survive in a time when your fan base is directly associated with the number of viral music videos you have and not necessarily, the quality of your music.
Sajjad’s increasing desperation could be seen in his antics on social media and their failure to make a mark. So much so that he eventually took a break from releasing music and tried to play mentor instead with Sajjad Ali Master Class.
The maestro gave vocal exercises in a well-produced series of episodes. People would have paid for the stuff had it not been offered to a nation that considers music and the practice of it a taboo. Sadly, there wasn’t anything new in the lessons either.
Despite having an enviable discography of memorable songs, this seemed like the final nail in Sajjad’s coffin. Here was a legend who reportedly refused to endorse any products because ‘real artistes don’t do that’ despite having been around for over three decades. He even turned down many remix/revisiting offers thinking only he could redo his songs.
If living in Dubai for the past two decades had not alienated Sajjad from the industry, then his self-created walls certainly did. As his monologue lost takers, he decided to bow before change.
In a first, the musician released a song featuring Bohemia, the Punjabi rapper, yesterday. This marked the first time he included another artiste on a track of his. The formula looked straightforward; get someone a lot more relevant to reinvigorate one’s brand.
That, however, didn’t turn out to be the case. Sajjad bowed down only to find a new constant and made the most hip desi rapper sound and act like one of the extras from Laari Adda. Tamasha left a lot of Bohemia fans disappointed and proved Sajjad was open to change, but only on his terms. Such an attitude can spell doom for both, his career and the industry at large.
It’s time veterans like Sajjad take note of the silver on their heads. The music industry – or whatever remains of it – now revolves around a few brands and friends of friends who call the shots. It couldn’t get any worse.
Alas, there’s nothing like evergreen music. The recall value of any old song is directly associated with nostalgia, which keeps on changing with every passing generation.
Here’s hoping the Faakhirs and Ali Haiders of the industry are also listening.
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