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My Family's Story of Settlement

Arts & Expression, South Asian, Storytelling

Tha Real of Little Empire

tha REAL of Little Empire

The earliest steps on the extensive and prolonged journey we witnessed in coming to Canada were initiated in 1980, rooting back to the Northern Sri Lankan capital of Jaffna. Shortly after my birth in 1980, my father departed from Jaffna to embark on his excursion to Germany, which would serve as the preliminary stage of our eventual settlement in Canada. Some time after his departure to Germany, my mother and I ensued on our travel to Canada by making use of a transit flight via the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, upon arriving to the United Kingdom, we were prohibited to progress on our voyage to Canada due to the U.K. authorities' conviction that my mother, who was pregnant at the time with my brother, would have her pregnancy come to term shortly. As a result, my mother and I arrived back in Sri Lanka once again; however, this proved to be only a minor impediment on our pathway to Canada. To continue, my father proceeded for Canada, and in due course, my mother, brother, and I joined him in 1985.

However, although we found ourselves in Canada, our journey was far from over. My parents encountered a multitude of obstacles as they exerted and toiled tremendously hard in an unfamiliar surrounding; learning English, having to move from Ottawa to Toronto, as well as engaging in multiple various jobs until they were employed within a setting that they were comfortable with. All these struggles were endured as a means to enable them to advance forward in life, step by step, ensuring a secure life for the four of us. The arduous and painstaking hardships associated with relocating to an unfamiliar environment, and attempting to nurture your family in such an atmosphere, is a story that has been told in Canada time and time again, as we live in a multicultural society with individuals residing here from every ethnicity imaginable. However, the undeniable acceptance of minorities found in Canada is what had made it indisputably into our true home; having travelled to multiple countries across the world, I can unquestionably state that the amiability and the diversity found within this country is unparalleled in the world.

Interest in hip-hop

My innate interest in hip-hop stems from the profound and deep-rooted connection that I share with what this genre embodies, and the intense correlation that it shares with the reality of the world we dwell within. Every hip-hop song connotes a story and alludes to a message, one that has the ability to interconnect a society and their continuous battles, hindrances, and tribulations that they must undergo throughout the course of their life. This inspirational insinuation is what ignited my perpetual relationship with the hip-hop genre, as it brought solace to the persistent hardships I endured as an immigrant working through the evolutionary process of the recognition of diversity in North America, as at that time, the Multicultural Act had only been recently passed. Also, hip-hop embraces the desolate minority population, whether the minority is based on ethnic heritage, spiritual faith or a core set of beliefs. As such, this form of artistic expression explicitly revealed to me the vitality of embracing myself as a part of a unique minority population, and the dire necessity of not forsaking my legacy, faith, and principles. As a voice of opposition to human subjugation and injustice, hip-hop is reflective of the journey that my life has taken in the past, to the point of where I stand today, and of the path that I will continue to tread in the future despite any impediments that may surface.

Another element which sparked my enthrallment of hip-hop is the identifiable relationship that it shares with Tamil music. To explain, when listening to any hip-hop song, one can identify the use of percussion instruments that are embedded within the melody. Similarly, one can undoubtedly recognize the utilization of such percussion instruments incorporated within Tamil music as well. As such, one can ultimately deduce a parallel and analogous correlation between the two unique genres of music. Further, ancient Tamil music significantly implements cadenced rhythms, beats and tempos, which, upon listening to, initiates the masses to discover a liberating and transcendental state. Likewise, in listening to the hip-hop genre, I became cognizant of the parallel ability that hip-hop shares with Tamil music in provoking its listeners to enter into a placid state of mind. This connection between the two types of music consequently triggered and forged for me an instantaneous and infinite connection with the artistic expression of hip-hop, which encompasses within it the ability to define myself artistically; as hip-hop moves and progresses with times and humanity, so do I, as an artist and individual.

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What inspires our musical art

The passions of our musical art are primarily fueled by the unjust atrocities being forced upon the countless number of innocent civilians of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, which is given greater impetus as a result of the ceaseless and perpetual bond that we share with our heritage in Sri Lanka. Sadly, what once was considered to be a paradise has now been darkened with the bloodshed of a multitude of innocent civilians due to the raging war that has distressingly clutched Sri Lanka; the war appears to have a genocidal stimulus, and is fueled by the ideology of nationalism and is given greater momentum by means of religious values. By and large, the State Officials, Buddhist monks, as well as both the police and various security forces knowingly refuse to acknowledge the severity of the carnage, and in some instances, have actively taken part in the atrocities that sweep forebodingly throughout the country.

Further, the government officials exert a tremendous amount of effort to deviate the world's attention from the unwarrantable plight that they encourage upon the Tamil community by utilizing strategic propaganda. As the war continues to induce excruciating suffering and a terrifyingly vast number of deaths, the Tamils in Sri Lanka are continually dying at an alarmingly rapid rate. As the war ensues, inducing a colossal polarizing effect on the Sri Lankan society by amplifying the gap between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities, there continues to be no justification to the perpetration of the vehement acts that befall on the innocent dwellers of Sri Lanka. The Tamil community, especially those that are dispersed outside of Sri Lanka, are not adequately informing the rest of the world of the persisting tragedy and the devastating state of toil being faced by those still entrapped within the barriers of war in Sri Lanka.

Through our musical art, we have found a remarkably creative, informative, effectual and entertaining method of not only presenting to the surrounding masses what we truly represent as a community, but as well, the dire importance of eliminating this crime against humanity and eradicating the horrors of war, thereby liberating the multitude of Tamil civilians from unjustified agony, torment, and death. The uphill battle that we face is attributable to the misleading stereotypes that continue to be infused within the media by the government of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the necessity to revolutionize these disingenuous conceptions and provide support in ending the unmerited violations against our community serve as a far greater inspiration than the money and fame that solely, as well as sadly, inspire and motivate many.

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Struggles and challenges in the industry

Any endeavour that is undertaken encompasses within it a certain degree of challenge, which, although serves as a temporary obstacle, can be utilized as an implicit stimulus to advance forward as well. As relatively new artists, we are on a path in which we must build everything starting from the bottom tier, and from that foundational point, escalate our way up; needless to say, however, no path comes without its hurdles. Initially, there was resistance in the conviction of Tamils possessing the ability to successfully rap. Overcoming this opposition and allowing the Tamil community to recognize that those individuals of Tamil heritage can indeed skillfully rap was a huge step forward on this path, symbolizing a milestone of colossal value to us. Therefore, this breakthrough that we spearheaded in the Canadian Tamil community, which has the largest Tamil Diaspora from Sri Lanka of approximately 300,000 individuals, was of monumental significance in establishing a core audience for our music.

To continue, notable artists that are accessible in Toronto, and who are recognized within the hip-hop industry, have expressed their confidence in us as artists, as well as their conviction that the artistic music that we produce, and the messages that we allude to within them, are of substantial validity. It is encouraging to us as new artists, that often times these veterans in the music industry give us their consent to work collaboratively alongside with us in the future. Thus, the fact that our music is genuine in the eyes of our supporters, as well as our new listeners, facilitates our continuous desire to overcome perhaps our most significant hurdle: to combat the false labels that brand the Tamil community as a result of the misleading media presented by the government of Sri Lanka.

As such, by utilizing the artistic expression of music and vocals, we aspire to transfigure the fabricated perceptions of Tamils, and further, to voice to the world the inexcusable desecration of our community that presently persists in Sri Lanka. The distressing struggles that our community has endured in the past, and continues to face presently, has fueled our determination to penetrate through the strongholds of this industry by way of a genre whose foundations are built on being the voice of oppression. As aforementioned, this path that we tread does incorporate many challenges and struggles, however, all these hindrances serve as a method for us to strengthen ourselves intrinsically and define ourselves as artists as we aspire to build a niche for ourselves in the upper tier of the music industry.

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