Godfather of Tamil rap opens up

By Marisa de Silva

Known as the ‘Godfather’ of Tamil rap in Sri Lanka, Krishan Maheson will be launching his latest album ‘Avathaaram’ meaning “Reincarnation” this April, setting a high bar for Tamil rap music with the introduction music technology, new sounds, sampling techniques and unique flow.

Krishan is well known for his touching lyrics and unique style on topics like the aftermath of war, motherhood, love and youth. His new album has sounds from love melodies to Dappang Koothu, whilst having also coined a term for his own genre of music, called Rappangkooththu, which is a mix of hip-hop and koothu. One of his singles “Amudhame” was nominated by BBC as one of the most promising tracks for 2009 and currently, his remake of the 1951 classic “oh oh enthan darling” is receiving frequent air time on all Tamil radio stations.

Krishan has also redone his own version of one the most played Tamil songs ever “Raakamma” starring superstar Rajini Kanth. The audio album and two of his videos will be released in Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia under the Sony BMG label. We find out more as Krishan chats to The Sunday Times.

Q: Tell us what you’ve been up to the last year?

A: (laughs) Work...working in advertising and media, and working with the ‘Illnoize’ Crew and touring with them. That’s it actually.

Q: What’s your new album like and what inspired the name ‘Avathaaram’?

A: My new album is a mix of everything I want to do in terms of music - new age RNB, to old school hip-hop and “gana,” soppy stuff, Reggaethon and soca. The name ‘Avathaaram’ was inspired because I am taking new forms in this album. Everyone knows me as a rapper, but on this I am making my debut as a vocalist, performer, poet and producer.

Q: What is your music inspired by?

A: My beats are inspired by everything I hear around me, (e.g. places I go to, people I meet, sounds from video games, sounds from eating places, and obviously from RNB and hip-hop - the main types of music I listen to, and lots more things.

Q: Tell me about your former band Urban Sounds, and how it was working with your brother Gajan?

A: Fun...basically something that I miss doing now. It started a long time ago, but eventually had to end as each of us had different interests when it came to music. After a while the chemistry as a band just wasn’t there anymore.

Q: Your music background in a nutshell?

A: Urban Poetry.

Q: What’s your favourite line off one of your songs?

A: It’s from a song called “Amudhame” and the lyrics translated means, “till you close your eyes and lose your senses, I’m gonna mesmerize you with my music. So let’s cut the crap and stop the talk and get down to it! It’s originally an excerpt from Hindu literature, portraying Lord Krishna playing his flute in order to win over his lover, Goddess Rhadhai.

Q: How did you get into rapping and is it tougher to rap in Tamil?

A: I was influenced a lot by the music I listened to, and yes, it’s tougher, but, Tamil is a musical language and needs a lot of research and reading, because you have to make sure you adhere to the correct grammar and pronunciation etc.,

Lots of rappers rap in slang even Tamil rappers, but I’m known for my poetry. Rap stands for rhythm and poetry after all, and I would like to stick to that. Tamil and poetry sort of go hand in hand.

Q: Do you compose your own songs?

A: Yes, I compose most of my own songs with some help from the producers when it comes to the music and melodies, but most of them are conceptualized by me.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: Take my music not only to South India but also get some global recognition this time around...maybe even the Grammys (just joking!!!)

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