Abdulaziz Karim

Abdulaziz Karim

Published: October 11, 2016

Abdulaziz Karim (or, in Cyrillic, Абдулазиз Карим), also known as Asr, is an Uzbek pop singer and composer currently residing in Turkey.

Karim, 42 years old, was extremely popular in Uzbekistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s and one of the early developers of the Uzbek, and Uzbek-language, pop scene. He got a Nikhol (Нихол) music prize in 2000, a government prize given to talented young Uzbek artists. He was even named a Distinguished Artist of Uzbekistan in 2003. He had several major hits, including “I Would Sacrifice” (“Qurbon Bo’laman”) and “My Only” (“Yagonam uzing”), а duet with popular Uzbek folk and pop singer Sevara Nazarхоn (Севара Назархан).

But as the years went on, he became unpopular with the Uzbek authorities due to some lyrics he wrote, and he became unable to play government concerts (which happen several times a year in Uzbekistan). His music videos were no longer shown on TV, and he eventually lost his license to perform concerts in Uzbekistan. He still found occasional opportunities, though, such as his 2010 participation in the international pop festival/contest Eastern Bazaar (Восточный базар), which included 50 participants from 23 countries and was held in Crimea. He took second place in the festival overall.

The situation got even worse for him in 2015, when he moved to Turkey as a protest against the lack of musical opportunities available to him in Uzbekistan. In June 2016, only ten months after he moved, he was given Turkish citizenship in a special exception to the usual rules. The Uzbek authorities, in the form of the music association Uzbeknavo, acted quickly after this, stripping him of his Distinguished Artist title and his Nikhol prize. The official reason for the removal of the title was “unworthy behavior.” (For background, Uzbeknavo is officially a pop music union, but because they are in charge of giving licenses to musicians so that they can perform, they are effectively able to control musicians’ careers.)

Karim has said that feels valued as a musician in Turkey, and he is more free to perform his music there. He lives in Ankara and works in a recording studio there; he also composes orchestral music.


“I Would Sacrifice” (“Qurbon Bo’laman”), Karimov’s major hit:


“Side” (“Yonimda”):

Unfortunately, lyrics do not seem to be available for most of Karim’s music.

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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