In an industry that demands a ferocious amount of creativity, talent, and passion, hard-driven musicians with gusto are dominating the scene with a style reminiscent of the hard-hitting rebels with a cause during the peak of 90s hip-hop and rap. As the world reels through issues fraught with a distinct amount of turmoil and chaos, creativity is flowing in the veins of today’s young artists and one of these impactful artists is Menon.
He was born Sri-Lankan-Filipino and grew up in one of the world’s booming capitals, Dubai. You could say that this young prodigy is just one of the many third-culture-kids that prowled the creative scene. What sets him apart is a never-ending thirst for musical inertia, blessed with a baritone voice he brings forth to life, his soul into the words he penned down evoking emotions in a series of well-timed ferocity as he raps, baring a strum-drum reality to his music.
Currently based in one of the biggest cities on the planet, Menon goes back to his roots and immerses himself in Manila’s Hip-hop scene, a world that is yet to be fully explored by partnering up with one of the city’s upcoming recording studios, Mango Room. Although Covid-19 has put a damper on live events and concerts.
Menon took this challenge in stride and has consistently worked in dropping new singles and MVs ever since he dropped his debut album Epiphany of a Misfit. His drive to keep his ‘misfit family’ happy with different kinds of content has always stayed consistent.
We at British Thoughts, catch up with the Misfit himself, Menon as we get to know him, the new projects he is about to embark on, and all about life.
Let’s start from the very beginning, do you remember the first song and artist that you listened to that got you hooked to the hip-hop scene?
When I was 15 years old, I lived in Barcelona for a year. My dad got me a bunch of CDS, I can’t tell you which particular artists struck me that gave me the hip-hop bug but I can give you the albums that really had an impact on me. It was T.I vs TI P, The documentary. This isn’t what I started on, because, before that, I was always listening to metal and rock. That’ s when the interest peaked for me.
Who are the three most influential people in your life that have inspired you to start your musical career?
When It comes to the three people in my life that inspired me the most, I would have to say that these people had significant roles that pushed me to be the artist that I am today.
Firstly, it was my friend Mitch. Back in 11th grade, I was really shy about showing my work to everyone, but one day we had this one free period and I showed them this one verse that I wrote to the tune of Run This Town by Jay-Z and Rihanna. I just rapped my heart out then and Mitch thought it was great, he ended up showing it to his brother, who was a rapper in Dubai. The level of production that they had really took me by surprise, because I wouldn’t have expected this from Dubai. This set the groundwork for my journey in the industry.
The second person that I call a tremendous inspiration is Bay Louni, he was my producer in Dubai up until I relocated to the Philippines, I consider him as a brother and a mentor, He’s been there through the highs and lows, telling me tips and tricks, especially as an upcoming artist in the Music Industry. Finally, the person who continues to push me to keep going is my mother. She is just one phone call away, there are times that I would often question myself to keep going, but she always said ‘ You have to keep going’ and those words are enough for me to remember why I’m here right now.
If you were to describe your style of music in three words, what would it be and why?
Haha! Not to sound egotistic, but larger than life would be the best way to describe it. In my songs, I like to create build-ups that lead to big drops. This comes from the influence I had from listening to metal, I like that soul-slapping sound and energy that bands put into their performances. Actually, one of my dreams in life is to perform with a metal band, to add metal elements in the songs I’ve made, that would translate well for live performances. I’m an adrenaline junkie so stage diving, carrying sh*t and jumping off is a part of my act.
When it comes to creating a stage persona and giving people a glimpse of your soul as an artist, what do you think sets you, Menon, apart from others?
Being who I am, my artist persona is the same, there’s no difference between Menon and Gerrard. Nowadays, a lot of people put on a fake persona but I don’t do that. I’m sticking to myself. The energy and goofiness translates to my music, and I’m just gonna say this, it’s not cockiness and confidence. I would like to say that I want to be diverse — *chuckles*. My background helps too.
You’ve mentioned that you went through a traumatic experience that helped define your style of music in the industry. Could you elaborate a bit more about that? What about this particular situation was deemed as the ultimate turning point for you?
My sound represents the ever-changing perspectives that life has thrown at me. I’m not a guru, but that’s generally how I think about it. When I was in Dubai, I had some issues which led me to discover that there were people that snitched on me, as a result, it ended with me going through it. I had to go in but it was enough to make me realise that I needed to turn my life around and move forward, to not spend time anymore with instant gratifications that are fleetingly temporary. It also helped my music mature in a significant way.
With your success in Dubai as one of the international urban hip-hop artists there, of all the places around the world, what prompted you to move to the Philippines and start anew?
Not to bash Dubai, after all I grew up there and it was the place I was raised. But what I noticed is, as a half filipino -Sri-Lankan rapper, who raps in English, there’s a glass ceiling, you know what I mean? Okay, it makes total sense, they want to promote their own and over there I’ve done just enough as I could, there wasn’t any shortage of opportunities there for me. But then I thought, why not go to the Philippines? And it made sense. The industry here has offered me plenty of scenarios to grow in ways that I didn’t think I could.
Creatively, a lot of artists and musicians find themselves in an uninspiring lull with no gigs, events, or outside interactions for nearly 2 years, especially with being cooped up at home. How do you keep your creative juices flowing? Do you have a process that helps you fight off that lethargic feeling?
What helps me prevent writer’s block. Well, first and foremost is being active, it helps a lot. What I also realized as well is that; it doesn’t hurt to take a break when you feel drained. But don’t take a break when you’re working hard and in that grind. But take it one step at a time before immersing yourself in it again.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we should look out for?
I have three singles coming out, I also have this drill project that’s still under wraps but I’m planning on calling it Manila Drilla. It’s almost done, just to pump in some momentum before I start dropping more projects. You’ll see a lot of comic book-esque storylines that will resonate with the songs I have in mind. Finally, I have this upcoming project with this label called Omerta which is being helmed by Mango Room Records’ main man Steelo, we’re working on dropping a series of eps each month. So watch out for it!
Lastly, do you have any sage advice for upcoming musicians, especially from the younger generation about entering the industry?
This too shall pass. Just keep going, don’t be a quitter, never be afraid to experiment, drop as much content as you want. In this day and age, you can build up a presence and just show them what you’re made of and that’s important.