After the release of his album (Shalakh) and the music video for the title track by the same name, SXR returns with the music video for Faasley, the fourth track from this latest collection of songs. Faasley is an emotionally charged Hip Hop ballad delivered as a solemn ode to remembrance in the face of estrangement, separation, distance, and loss.
The video directed by Vaksh Vimal unfolds like the aftermath of a Greek tragedy when there is still something left to live for as the protagonist (played by SXR himself) receives funerary flowers from a Kashmiri boatman—who could be seen as a Charon on the river Styx. The scene develops into a sombre visit to a Kashmiri graveyard where the white flowers (chrysanthemums) are delivered to the dear departed. With cutscenes immaculately disrupting an otherwise linear plotline, the whiteness of the flowers transits into the whiteness of a Kashmiri winter where snow shrouds the whole valley in a funerary white.
Even such descriptive textual language falls short to explain the complex visual language that shapes this music video scene by scene while doing justice to a side of SXR’s lyricism and vocal range that many have not seen unless you listen to VOID on the daily. In opposition to the album’s title, Faasley along with Astagfirullah, the previous track from the same album, are melodic pieces where a more vulnerable and earnest SXR lets his guard down to bring out a more sentimental and spiritual side of his artistic persona. The result is a musical expressiveness that comes with age and maturity, and from having seen life, death, grief and age from the proximity of experience—to render it all lyrically and lay it bare by means of a creativity sustained by artistic introspection and withdrawal.
One will recall Kanye’s fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak (2008), that radically took Hip Hop into a new direction where the foundational spoken word elements of rapping were either replaced by or complemented with actual singing and harmonizing, along with a variety of vocal melodies to redefine how verses and vocals could be delivered over a beat. Drake and Lil Wayne also followed suit, and perhaps the most surprising was the impact such a stylistic detour had on Eminem, who also incorporated singing parts into his rapping for the songs on his seventh album, Recovery (2010).
Then of course there is the alternative Hip Hop virtuoso Kid Cudi, who produced a variety of anthemic songs that relied highly on singing in albums such as A Kid Named Cudi (2008), with songs such as The Prayer and Day’ N’ Nite (an MC Kash favorite) and Pursuit of Happiness from the follow-up 2009 album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. It is from this lineage of music-making and Hip Hop artistry that songs such as Void, Astagfirullah, and Faasley descend from within the Kashmiri Hip Hop scene. A certain artistic maturity or creative personal growth is involved in all the previous cases (from Kanye to Eminem) to get this stage of songwriting, with such artists producing vocally-driven songs after at least two to three albums. SXR, who is not afraid of exploring and taking his music towards new styles and directions, shows an inclination towards this style of songwriting and vocal delivery, particularly in the emotive Faasley that brings with it a matching music video packed with meaning and symbolism.
As a song, Faasley already engages with the spectral at a lyrical level, where hope, abandonment, prayer and even complaint (as “shikayat to the departed”) resonate with the tone of lament in this Hip Hop lullaby for sadness. However, as the video progresses, the spectral gains greater traction with each step that our protagonist takes towards an indefinite journey into a solitude he seeks to cure—through a rendezvous that is only possible from a journey within. At this point, the white flowers left at the grave have been received and the spectral dimension has completely engulfed not only the protagonist but us the viewers. Here, one could perhaps think of the first act of Hamlet when, in the cold night of a Scandinavian winter, the spectral figure of Hamlet’s father, the late murdered king, appears to him. Some critics have argued that the apparition is more of a hallucination within Hamlet’s mind. Such argumentation notwithstanding, ghosts seem to appear far too often in winter and in this music video for a song that dialogues with the dead and the departed, it is no different.
Under Vimal’s direction, the possibility of our protagonist himself being a ghost, a winterly spectre becomes more palpable as the plot congeals towards a concrete end. After all, longings can be so vast and estrangement from those who have left us so severe, that such longings and estrangement become a vacuum of snow-filled air on the trail that constantly pulls us in, perhaps even into the realm of the other-worldly. Viewers should consider the presence of the white flowers in three instances: at the beginning of the video as they are handed over by the boatman, at the graveyard where they are left on a grave, and then finally as the winter sets in the hands of the departed who has returned.
One will notice that the weather changes completely and winter takes over entirely the second our protagonist exits the graveyard after leaving the white flowers on the grave for the departed. The song, as much as its music video, combines simplicity with complexity and depth to the point of marking its moment within Kashmiri Hip Hop history. Faasley can easily be considered a melodic Hip Hop gem dedicated to those who have ever lost a loved one and a symbolic song in contemporary Kashmiri scene where far too many people, and especially within the young, have not necessarily found ways to articulate or verbalize loss, grief, and a coping—that can possibly be facilitated by songs like this one.
SXR – FAASLEY (Prod. by Prxphecy & Timmy Holiday)
Music: Prod. by Prxphecy & Timmy Holiday
Mixing & Mastering: Ahmer Javed
Directed by: Vaksh Vimal
2nd DOP: Cotton Bro
Female Model: Ingried James