Farhot’s journey started in the 1980s. Growing up in Afghanistan during the Soviet war, he witnessed his country ripped apart by strife and struggle. His family fled to Germany when he was young, where he later took to producing beats and has become a staple of Hamburg’s burgeoning underground hip-hop scene.
This tumultuous upbringing is translated into the theme and aesthetic of Farhot’s Kabul Fire Vol. 2. The follow up to 2013’s Kabul Fire Vol. 1 beat tape, Vol. 2 finds Farhot striving to find a balance between his Afghani heritage and western influences. Through the cut-and-paste style of sampling, he’s woven together the rich fabric of his multi-cultural identity, filling in forgotten cultural notes of Afghanistan with the street sounds of the west. Along the way, he embraces a wide range of sources – bringing together traditional Afghan music and vocal snippets from historical documentaries (including words from 1980s resistance fighter Ahmad Shah Mahsoud) over boom bap drums. The sound represents Kabul through music and showcases the untold stories about Farhot’s home country.
Middle-east-meets-west concept aside, Kabul Fire Vol. 2 is a wildly creative hip-hop album. The sounds Farhot concocts are familiar at one second and then totally off the grid the next. He’s also not afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve, with nods to J-Dilla’s Detroit aesthetic and the chopped and screwed, low end Brainfeeder sound.The beats are hypnotic and complex, while guest appearances from German MCs JuJu Rogers, Tiggs Da Author and Nneka help add depth and make for an immersive and engaging listening experience.
The album’s disparate elements mix together in a raw, organic manner, evocative of the conflict-ravaged heritage of Farhot’s homeland. Heavyweight beats add gravitas, but it’s the traditional elements which lend this record its soul, evoking the soundscapes that would have drifted from Kabul’s windows during the city’s heyday.