By Saiyna Bashir, Reuters/Islamabad
American DJ and record producer Diplo brought his Mad Decent Block Party to Pakistan’s capital over the weekend, headlining a roster of musicians including local Pakistani acts.
For two-time Grammy winner Diplo, playing Pakistan is a way to foster good relations with the mostly Muslim country after an angry January 1 tweet from US President Donald Trump complaining that Pakistan gives “terrorists” a safe haven.
“I think the best way we can do any kind of diplomacy with the Pakistani people is ... basically reaching out to the kids like we do at the concerts,” Diplo told TMZ last month after the Trump tweet, which soured US-Pakistani relations.
He added that by having US acts connect with the large youth population – an estimated 60% of Pakistanis are under age 30 – “they can grow into being our allies”.
More than 2,500 young people crowded into an outdoor venue in the capital, Islamabad, to a scaled down version of the event known for bringing together some of the hottest names in dance-hall, hip hop and electronic music.
Among the headliners were Diplo’s chart-topping side project Major Lazer Soundsystem, DJ Chrome Sparks and Pakistani duo SNKM, which has played the South by Southwest festival and toured with Diplo in the US.
“There’s a lot of bridges being built between here and the US,” says SNKM’s Adil Omar, who also has a successful hip hop career and a new album and film Transcendence to be released this year.
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