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Rapping with patriotic pride – MC SAI

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When you think of Rap, who pops into your head first?  2Pac, Jay-z or T.I.?  They are all great, but I am asking you about Tamil Rappers.  You might come up with Sujeeth G of course, but guys I think it is about time you engrave this young fella into your head - MC SAI!


At the tender age of 16 makes him one of the youngest Tamil Rappers in Europe at the moment and he already dropped his first LP.  I was lucky enough to go and meet him and see what he’s all about.


Sitting in front of this young handsome, tall boy, who is cracking jokes, you wonder if what he raps on his LP is what he truly wrote himself.  Because when you listen carefully to his tracks on his first LP, you’ll be mesmerised by his maturity.  Issues he discusses on the tracks are not what a usual 16 year old would talk about. 


MC SAI - real name is Sairuban Ramakrishnan – was born on 22 June, 1991 in Jaffna. He lived there till the age of three and then lived in Germany for four years before moving to England in 1999.  His rap career started off with changing lyrics of already released cinema tracks. This skill enabled MC SAI to make his own patriotic tracks. 


MC SAI is one of the few artists who started rapping in order to tell the story of his home country to the teenagers of Europe, who are unaware of the suffering back home.


“I wanted to tell the story back home with a political message behind it, but the only way teenagers would understand and listen to it better, would be to simplify it in a rap song,” he says. 


“I am trying to get the message across as well as telling people how I feel about these issues.  Although my songs are mainly aimed at youths, I do know a lot of parents and even grandparents listen to my LP.”


It was a performance at a Tamil Youth Organisation event that introduced him to his friend Santhors, who helped him release his LP.


“I have tried dancing, beat boxing and acting and so much more.  At a TYO programme I got introduced to Santhors and it all kicked off from there.  He invited me to come round to his studio and we laid down some tracks and the rest is history,” says MC SAI.


One of my curiosities was why the majority of his LP is in Tamil and not in English, especially because it is aimed at youth.  His reply simply is that he personally thinks Tamil Rap sounds amazing and that he can express himself better in Tamil.


 “I write my own lyrics because whatever I rap comes from my heart and mind.  I guess my writing skills I got I get from my father, who writes a lot of poems,” he says.


MC SAI adds that if he is talking about the issues back home, he might as well do it in Tamil. 


When he started off, he never thought in a million years that his community would be so supportive.  He thought he might get some fans within the younger generation of Tamils, but he has adults playing his tracks and even as ringtones on their phones, he says.


“My ambition for the future would be to break into Kollywood before turning 18!” says the young man, setting himself a solid goal.


Some might argue that his lyrics are too political and controversial, but as always this young bright young man has an answer to everything. 


“You need to respect someone else’s opinion.  At the end of the day I don’t care what people think.  Love me or hate me.”


He also addressed the issue of Hip Hop v. the society, where Rap is seen as a bad influence by some people.  MC SAI sees this not as a hindrance, but wants to take this opportunity to change Tamil Rap.   


“All Tamil Rappers trying to do what American Rappers are doing, but it’s fake.  They are rapping about things that are not really happening to them.”


There have been media claims that street violence is caused by music videos and especially rap, which often portrays such violence. But MC SAI says it’s not reality and that it all depends on everyone’s own interpretation. 


“Gangs exist to get respect and protect themselves and what is going on in the music videos are not always the absolute reality.  Misinterpretation is happening everywhere.  You can’t help it or stop it.”


For those interested in seeing and hearing more from MC SAI, he will be playing at the ‘Best of Europe’ concert in December, where many Tamil artists from around Europe will showcase their talents


For now check out MC SAI’s myspace page, where you can listen to his songs.


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