A hopeful note

Updated: Apr 17, 2020, 10:14 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A Tamil-Canadian rapper releases a mixtape which says that all is not lost despite the times.

There is a deafening silence in the music business. The industry is quietly rebooting itself. We are in a situation where musicians are also in isolation. But in that solitude, there is solidarity with everyone. That's the message Tamil-Canadian rapper Shan Vincent De Paul sends us during the lockdown with Purgatory: The Isolation Tapes, a new mixtape that he launched this week.

He builds a disjointed world in it that flows like a seven-minute stream of consciousness. The video is almost a film with scenes that end abruptly, as if you're at a party and someone changes a song with no warning. One part has lullaby-like piano playing as Paul dons a balaclava and blingy face mask to keep himself safe, presumably from both, the pandemic and profiling. But that image shifts in a flash to him rapping about Icarus, flying too close to the sun and falling with a smile.

Lyrically, the mixtape centres confessedly on the pandemic. "Tell her that the virus was merely a Trojan horse into our empathy," he sings to his friend in the hope of a kinder world, where "for once we listened to the cry from the earth". Musically, it is a hat-tip to hip-hop. Paul samples the titanic Biggie Smalls, and himself spits rhymes that travel from old-school beats to a more aggressive new-age tone. But then there are sudden parts that seem fit for an EDM festival. So you don't quite know what to expect since each track pops up like a Jack in a box.

The timing and the intention of this effort is straight-up, though. "When this started happening on a global scale, I stopped all of my other projects immediately. It was important that I create something that was responsive to what we were going through. What we're seeing is unprecedented, so the art has to reflect that," Paul says explaining why he entered this disjointed world. But he also says that he has found solidarity with fellow humans in the solitude. So he's exactly where he needs to be, in his own words.

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Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have ascribed musical notes to the protein structure of the Coronavirus, choosing to create a soothing track.

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