If I asked you to name one Sri Lankan rapper I guess that you would have a very difficult time. So to that end here is an answer: DeLon. Without being condescending, Delon is in truth probably Sri Lanka’s only international rapper and at four albums deep Delon is in many respects a veteran.
Raised in the US, Delon became immersed in the culture of hip-hop and honed his craft at some of the toughest freestyle competitions.
Flavour caught up with Sri Lanka’s favourite son, on his UK press tour to promote his new single Slow It Down.
You seem to be able to put your mind to whatever you want to. In your bio it said you studied medicine and now currently you are training as a singer how do you do that?
It is passion it is like anything else really it’s like when you see a hot girl and you tired as hell you just chase her down and you wonder how you do it. I think when you have passion then anything is possible.
It is like mixing oil and water; how did a deep involvement with your Buddhist faith turn into a love for hip-hop because I could be wrong but the two do not seem to marry?
Here’s the thing. Buddhism is a philosophy and it is all about living the middle path and so I am a hip-hop artists but I do not take drugs, I love women but I do not sleep with all of them. I would not say that I am a staunch Buddhist but I have been on two ten day meditations retreats of pure silence and I just think that hip-hop already has a balance instilled in it where you have to explain yourself but also entertain.
You are quoted as saying that you had a strict up-bringing. Was your interest in hip-hop initially a rebellion against that strict up bringing?
Hip-hop was my outlet because I was the only kid of colour in an all white neighbourhood. At that age I did not understand racism so when I would get called a “nigga” I would firstly be like no you spell that “nigger”. I would be looking around when people said that because I did not understand that in America people would look at you as a colour and not a race. Actually, the first album I bought was Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994) by Outkast and it really spoke to me because it mirrored my feelings of being an outcast.
And how did your parents take their son going into a profession that is so fickle?
My parents never thought it would be a profession because they never thought it would come to anything so they never took it seriously. Now here I am after trials and tribulations we are back as a loving family.
So now they are accepting.
Well when you win best rapper in your country….
It is always helpful.
Exactly (he laughs).
Just explain your new single Slow Down because for quite an opinionated and mildly political rapper this is very light subject matter.
Yes I literally slowed it down I thought about it and I took inventory of what I was doing. I did not want to make music that was accusatory and I wanted to be an entertainer. I really want people to know who I am. I rep my country and I will do and I have done but I really want people to see my fun side at the moment. I want people to put Delon on when they just want to get lively.
And what about your video for Slow Down? Did you have a good time on your shoot because I saw some steamy windows and a lady?
It was really good in truth I had all these girls all over me and we had to keep dropping retakes again and again so it was really difficult.
So who was the finest?
The girl in the shower Jennifer, she was hot. She was from Salvador and she is killing the game. But I had to choose the girls because I was like I do not want some ugly models in there.
The album explain the title and inspiration.
Here is the funny thing I changed the title and so now it is not called the Movement it is now Something Out of Nothing. I changed it about three months ago.
Why did you change it?
Well here is the thing. First it was The Blue-Print To A Revolution, then it became the Movement and then Infinitum and they all were my own revolution of what I was trying to talk about. I had a very over zealous concept of taking the world with me. The Movement is what I wanted it to be Something Out Of Nothing is what it is.
Are you talking about the process of making an album or is this something deeper?
I am talking about being a hip-hop artist in general. People would never expect a Sri Lankan hip hop artist who comes from an up bringing that was extremely strict to be a hip-hop artist.
And talking about Sri Lanka would you say you are their biggest export?
I would say I am about to be their biggest export for sure. There are not any artist let alone hip-hop artists coming out of Sri Lanka. Here is the thing, Sri Lanka is like a third world country and Sri Lanka is not close to anything apart from India. To be a hip-hop artist you have to come out of Sri Lanka and be raised in the culture of hip-hop.
So do you think you have been the one to make people in Sri Lanka actually like hip-hop?
I think I have. I think that because I embrace my country and support my country they have actually embraced me. I got a call from the Sri Lankan secretary of defence. They support me because they see the power of rap and hip-hop and realise it doe s not have the negative connotations that it used too. The goal is to bring awareness of another country. Bring Sri Lanka to the world stage.
And whilst you will be working your new single I take it that plans for a next album are on hold?
I want to take Slow It Down to an international level and make myself a bona fide artist, then touring and then I will think of making another album.
Slow It Down (Out Now).
Words by Semper Azeez-Harris.