KARACHI: Last year, Jinder Mahal, a Canadian wrestler of Indian descent returned to WWE with a new theme song. The current WWE Champion’s new theme is a rap song, titled Sher (Lion), and has been a hit with the audience ever since the summer of 2016.
Composed by Jim Johnston, WWE’s resident music composer and a legend behind most of your favourite theme songs, Sher is performed by a Pakistani rapper living in Canada.
The Express Tribune got in touch with Ali Kaz (short for Kazmi), the man behind Sher to talk about how he collaborated with the WWE to create this catchy track. Kaz shared when he first received Johnston’s email, he thought it was a prank.
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“At that time, I didn’t know who Jim Johnston or Jinder Mahal was,” he admitted. “Upon researching, I figured that this was going to be the biggest project of my life.”
According to the Pakistani rapper, Johnston gave him two days to write the lyrics on the music he had composed and send the track back to him. “I took the rest of the day off to work on the track, wrote the lyrics within three hours and recorded the track the next day.”
He shared that he started making music to “bring Pakistani hip-hop on the map.” Although he was initially discouraged, things changed after Sher. “I am the first Pakistani artist to work with WWE on a track and it gives me a new confidence and pride that I can bring Pakistani hip-hop to a new level,” he said.
However, as soon as the track was released last year, several bands started claiming the song.
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“At first, most people thought it was an Indian artist who had performed Sher and right away an underground rap band from India started claiming that this was their track. After fans messaged me about it, I tried to approach journalists in India and Pakistan. Of course, Indian journalists didn’t pay heed because they want to promote their own artists.
"But I was very discouraged when I approached TV journalists in Pakistan and they said, ‘pay us and we will show you on TV’. He said eventually, there was an Indian publisher who helped him put the word out.
Even though he only recently got to know about him, Kaz spoke highly of Mahal. “I think Jinder Mahal is very hardworking and talented wrestler. He has been trying to build an image for a very long time and I think finally he has proven his potential to the world. He didn’t give up for years and he improved himself tremendously to be the world champion. I have mad respect for him.”
Born in Rawalpindi to a middle-class family, Kaz left Pakistan at the age of 16 and spent several years in China. For the past nine years, he has been living in Canada.
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He shared that despite everyone forcing him to become a doctor or an engineer, he believed he had a flair for rap and poetry and spent years trying to make it. In 2012, he released his first track Fauj Da Jawan and gained popularity in the underground circuit.
Asked who else he would like to rap for, Kaz said, “I think my style of rapping only suits wrestlers or fighters from the subcontinent so, if there is a chance, I would love to create a track for Arjun Bhullar, a rising star in UFC."
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