Struggle can be defined in various levels and forms for a lot of us. Thankfully, especially where I am from, Tamil Canadians are raised in households where necessities were provided such as a roof over our heads, proper clothing needed to survive in peak Canadian cold weather and food on our tables to give us strength to continue pursuing our goals. Even knowing all of this, I still faced struggle, even though it was a different kind of struggle. I think many can relate to this type of adversity as a minority, as an artist, and as an individual raised in a South Asian traditional life style.
I was raised with a strict list of career options; becoming an engineer, doctor, lawyer, teacher, or an accountant. If you wanted to do anything with sports, art, drama, music, I am certain most will agree when I say “good luck with that!” The only response I received growing up was “How will you financially survive?” or comments such as “You will struggle so much”, “No one will marry you in the future with an unstable career” and “How will you provide for your family in the future?” Sometimes the best advice is to block out the voices surrounding you, even if it is your family. Listen to the voice that speaks in your mind or what you feel in your heart. In my case, I followed the sounds of hip hop. There were four main struggles I faced and questioned since the age of eighteen, when I wrote my first song:
- Will anyone truly listen and respect my passion on this artistic platform? If no one listens then what’s the point, who am I telling my stories to?
- Will anyone support my music? Such as my family, my friends, my local community and the hip-hop community? Maybe they will tell me to stop and focus on furthering my education. Or find a better 9-5 job that pays more with better benefits and continue with that rather than struggling with music.
- Will I be accepted for being the individual I am, or will I need to change myself entirely to be accepted for who I am not? Do I need to rap a certain way on a certain beat to be accepted like the rest? No, I am just going to stick to what I do best by being who I am.
- How will I be able to balance two potential careers in one life time? Can I pursue a career in hip hop? I am currently balancing a 9-5 career in the construction industry as a Project Coordinator with goals to become a certified Project Manager carrying a future PMP. I am also currently enrolled in a Masters Degree Program. To someone who wants to pursue a future in music, this may seem overwhelming all at once.
These are the questions that my mind continues to ask every time I am about to release my art to the public. I have learned that if I continue to keep questioning myself repeatedly, I tend to build more doubts. I could potentially be in a situation where I will hold back on future opportunities if I do not have the courage to open new doors to something greater. Over the years, I have encountered plenty of old and new faces who have shared their experiences, their advice and their wisdom. But at the end of the day, none of that matters unless I accept the need to take a risk by jumping out of my comfort zone in order to pursue my passion for music.
So here I am today. I took the risk of releasing my first project titled as “The Invitation” and a music video for a song “The Return” with the assistance of Crown Lab Agency and production by Penacho. Although I may feel vulnerable after releasing personal content, it feels amazing to let go of the heavy weights shackled to my mind. Although most of the feedback that I received was positive, I also received criticism from others. I value constructive criticism because it enables me to discover methods to grow and improve for the better. Overall, I have come to the conclusion that I want to be able to utilize my talent through this art form by inspiring, motivating, empowering others. I want to inform the future of our generation that life is not all about how much you make or the expensive materialistic items such as the brand name clothes you wear or cars you possess. Before my soul leaves this earth, I want to leave a mark and I chose to use music as a tool to help create and showcase timeless experiences. My music speaks for itself, and I believe that it is not comparable to other artists in our society especially within the Tamil community. I am showcasing what Hip Hop used to be and I am bringing back substance for your mind, body and soul.
Here is a little back story about my life: I was born in Sri Lanka around the same time of the civil war, traveled to a few countries until my family resided and raised us in Hong Kong for five years, before coming to the GTA in 1996. All of my life, I was able to experience diverse communities, but it does not get any more diverse than being influenced by the culture of Hip Hop. All it took was an episode of Fresh Prince at a very young age to get my mind and heart to follow the sounds of a genre that some despised. I fell in love with the soulful, jazz, boom bap sounds, 808 beats, and which still are perfection to my ears. Growing up in North York and roaming through Scarborough are experiences I will forever cherish because they provided me with lessons that have molded me into the individual that I am today. It was tough as a child because I was not the most popular nor was I the quietest. I was just the average guy who got along with everyone but I was shy and was not very confident when it came to certain encounters such as speaking up when I should have or voicing out my opinion in general. I needed an outlet, but it was not until I moved to Mississauga I decided to pursue a side career with Hip Hop. At first, I got into music to gain attention (especially with women), but as I got older, music became more than a conversational topic. It became an outlet to overcome stress, loneliness, depression, basically any negative vibe I came across. I did not want to get hooked onto drugs and alcohol, nor did I want to sit in a room speaking to a specialist about my everyday life. Hip Hop is my cure, simply by picking up a note book and pen or typing up verses on Microsoft Word, Hip Hop is my psychologist.
Growing up, I was always told that my music was good, and I should continue my path because I possess something that most do not have. But I wish someone would have told me that I should not rely on anyone but myself at an early stage. I do this for myself, I do this for the love of hip hop and I do this for the people who can relate to my passion. I am producing music that the future can consume in order to cleanse their mind, body and soul. All I ask in return is a moment of your time to take in and vibe with my latest project entitled “The Invitation”. There is a song for everyone, I will let the music speak for itself. Enjoy and thank you!
Here is my latest visual: Directed & Created By Crown Lab Agency, Written By Myself [JShanth] and Produced By Penacho…