Shan Vincent de Paul on his new album, the rise of Carnatic rap, and challenging traditional masculinity
Rapper Shan Vincent de Paul says his upcoming album, Made in Jaffna, is his origin story. “It’s my most autobiographical work to date. I discuss everything from where I grew up, to dealing with religion, a Euro-centric school system, fatherhood, family, love and perseverance of the Tamil people,” says the artiste who was born in Sri Lanka, but is now based in Toronto. After having taken the world by storm with his Mrithangam Raps series and dropping a new single, Best Friend, an ode to AR Rahman’s iconic song, Mustafa Mustafa, the rapper comes to Bengaluru as part of the Oh Gawd! India Tour 2020.
Shan’s music has always blended his Tamil roots with rap. He says he grew up listening to Tamil radio at home but drew his influences from American rap. In the tracks of Mrithangam Raps, a collaboration with producer Yanchan, he incorporates the traditional Carnatic instrument. “Fusion has existed in various forms previously, but we have taken it to a place it hasn’t gone before. There hasn’t been English speaking raps with the mrithangam before. Ever. So it’s also the fusion of East-meets-West that people are intrigued about. Hopefully it will have people looking into a culture they weren’t too interested in before,” he adds. The rapper also says that South Asian rap resonates with so many people because rap has always been tied to the underdog and anti-culture. “It was inevitable that it would take off in India. I think people are getting tired of the same old glossy Bollywood vibe. It’s also taking off globally because there are incredible South Asian rappers competing with the best of them right now,” Shan says.
The latest track, Best Friend, aims to challenge society’s ideas of masculinity, especially in the South Asian community. “It is an open love song celebrating friendship between males, that’s not really a common topic in the hip-hop space. We are still very primitive in our ways of thinking about masculinity as a culture. The way in which men behave, speak and treat others has a direct result on how we treat women and everyone else,” Shan tells us.
At the gig, fans can expect tracks from the upcoming album, as well as some of his previous hits such as Die Iconic, Zen and Light. “I’ll be shooting a few videos and just exploring the scene in general while I’m here. I would love to connect with some local artistes during this time,” sums up the musician who lists Raja Kumari, DIVINE and The F16s, as some of his favourite Indian artistes.
Rs. 499. Feb 14, 8 pm. At Fandom, Koramangala