Still following his heart…

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“I’m not really a big fan at describing myself and what I do. I’m sure people are able to decide for themselves who I am and what I do in life by seeing my work. For some, I could be a rapper, for others a writer, a designer, a painter, an actor or director. I like to do the things that I like to, and what I know how to do. There’s really not all that much to it.”

It seems that Ravi Jay, a person who has quickly become a widely known figure in the Sri Lankan hip-hop/rap genre certainly doesn’t want to limit himself to his music. Teen Inc had the opportunity to share a moment in conversation with the man, and to learn more about his journey as an artist in Sri Lanka and what he thinks may lie in store for Sri Lanka in the future.

A journey of discovery

First introduced to rap at around the age of 18, Ravi explored a number of avenues in his youth, searching for his path when he succumbed to an illness that took his life in a completely new direction. “It was definitely a turning point in my life,” he shared. “I started to think a lot deeper about the facts of life that we have to face, including the truth that it is from darkness we emerge from, and it is into darkness that we go at the end of our lives.”

Time passed, and Ravi continued his life, expanding his creative horizon with Drill Team, and subsequently with other artists such as Yuki Navaratne and Charith Attalage. “They were an amazing support in helping me develop my ability to share my philosophy through my work. I highly respect the two of them for all the support they gave me in my journey.”

There were a number of other turning points in Ravi’s journey as an artist, and Kuveni was definitely one for him. But of course, “I’ve still only just begun, and it’s going to be exciting to see where this all will take me.”

Finding his sound

“Creating original work that you can be proud of isn’t easy,” he shared. “It’s not easy to seek what makes you unique from everyone else and try to stand out from the others. But it was a challenge I wanted to overcome. I’ve always wanted to express what is mine, my ideals, my philosophy, which was the biggest challenge I had to face.”

Fortunately, Ravi’s journey wasn’t alone, supported by many family, friends, and fellow artists who have been with him along the way, including doctors, who have helped heal him, Ravi’s journey is one that is of ambition, and comradery for one another.

“Truly, I wouldn’t be here without Samith Gomes, Suresh Arunasantha, Dileepa Karunarathna, Suresh Vignarajah and many more, and many more who were there with me from the start, in both my rap careers as well as in digital graphics. They’ve taught me so much over the years. I am truly thankful for them.”

Sri Lankan hip-hop/rap

“My opinion has changed a lot over my time as someone who enjoys hip-hop and rap,” Ravi explained whilst sharing his thoughts on Sri Lanka’s hip-hop/rap culture. “Certainly, Sri Lanka has amazing trailblazers who are dedicated to their craft, but I also sense something lacking in our local industry,” he said.

“We need to be able to take what we have and present it to an international audience, through the lens of hip-hop. It’s a beautiful form of art, and there are a lot of things unique to hip-hop that I don’t subscribe to, mainly because I follow my own art.”

Going international

Ravi agrees that Sri Lanka still is struggling to break into the global audience and creative industry as a whole. “We still struggle to quantify our ‘Sri Lankan-ness’ and project it to a global audience as a whole. I think that our tendency to copy from others is one of the main things that is holding us back. As a result, the content we create is hardly ever current with what’s going on in the world around us, from a lot of aspects regarding content creation, in being unique.”

Of course, among the many, he agrees there are a select few who are trying to bring something new and unique to the table. However, these are also mired by various factors, including the ugly competition that exists between a number of artists, which as a result has prevented many talented individuals’ work from reaching the public and overseas. As a result, Ravi argues that the international audience has heard or seen very little of what Sri Lanka truly has to offer.

For the artist in you

If you are someone who aspires to be an artist, or maybe even a rapper like Ravi Jay, he advises to “keep searching, and exploring new things. Find yourself and show what you have to the world. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing something that isn’t part of you, because it is very short lived. Sometimes, we can fall into the false belief of following patterns or rules. There are no rules to creativity and rap. The experiences, thoughts and philosophy you have is unique to yourself, and it is through your art that it is shown to the world.”

“You don’t have to limit yourself as a rapper. Be a free thinker, a creator.”

So many to thank

Ravi Jay is someone who truly believes in the power that comes with collaborating and working together as a unified and united industry, which reflects in how he speaks about the many creators and many others who have been part of Ravi’s journey. In fact, Ravi shared a whole list of names followed with kind words about their talent and kindness as we conversed, as well as his deep love for them, especially his mother and father.

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough space if we were to name every single one of them. However, he wanted to ensure to let everyone know that they are loved, and he is truly thankful for each and every one of them.

“Of course, my journey hasn’t ended yet. It has only just begun. I’m just really excited to see where the next chapter in my life will take me.”

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage