Shan Vincent de Paul’s song “Die Iconic 2” off his latest album Made in Jaffna will have you hanging on to every lyric as he has a rap battle with himself. He graces us with witty word play while taking us on the journey through his thoughts. He raps, “I guess I still got to chip off the / shoulder / chip off the old block / just like my papa / popped off a couple of pop songs for profit / and they thought I was off on some pop shit / aww shit / here we go again / back up on my cannibal ox / no etiquette, prophetic.” The stream of consciousness riff of the word before rhythm is what makes him so addicting.
In a recent Forbes article he describes his music as “trying to create a world where the ancient past — Tamil is one of the oldest languages still in use — and a distant future come together.” I was really struck by the images that sentence leaves you with and then in seeing the accompanying music video for “Die Iconic 2.” On one hand, Shan Vincent de Paul is in what looks like an ancient sacred place and on the other there is some sort of huge hovering spaceship/futuristic planet in the sky. He is on the pulse with something that is so true in all of us. We’re all battling with who we are and who we want to be. How do we move forward?
We got to talk to the creative mind himself about what home means to him, shooting the music video at “undisclosed locations,” and working on “Die Iconic 2.”
What sparked the idea to make part 2? What was the writing process for “Die Iconic 2” like?
I wanted to make something for the core fans that have been supporting me from the beginning. The first “Die Iconic” was how a lot of my audience discovered me, and I wanted to let them know that I was still focused as ever. The second part was written over the course of a few weeks, the song really is like battle rap therapy for me. On one hand it’s me claiming my position as a great in rap music, on the other it is acknowledging my downfalls and pain I’m still working through.
Tell me the inspiration behind the music video? What was shooting like?
We shot that in India while I was on tour there. I approached about a dozen production companies and none of them wanted to work on the video due to the content of the song. I think the mentioning of certain political factions deterred a lot of collaborators. The song is not political “though, it’s battle rap. We had to shoot the entire video with a small crew in undisclosed locations.
Where is home and what does it mean to you?
If you ask many Eelam Tamils where home is, that would be a tricky question. My family had to leave what we considered home (Jaffna), and now, we consider Toronto our home. But Jaffna is still home to me, and Toronto is the home that raised me. I would also consider Chennai my second home away from home. Home is where I find my community. The place that inspires my art, my being. The place I want to represent to the rest of the world.
Who are some of your musical icons? Dream collaboration?
Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Tierra Whack, EL-P, Tyler, The Creator are all dream collabs. My friends that are on my album are also my dream collabs. All of the artists on my album are artists that I look up to and admire.
How did you first get into music? How have you evolved since then?
I’ve always been creative. Writing, drawing, creating, making music. Choosing to be a professional musician just forces me to have a deeper consideration for my audience and build a connection with them. I’m still evolving, there is no end to that.