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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

Sri Lankan/ Filipino rapper Menon, is a force you should keep your eyes on.

Born and raised in Dubai, Sri Lankan/Filipino Gerrard Anthony Menon has emerged as a self-made talent by drawing inspiration from his life and his unique ethic background as fuel for a subject and lyrical content. After a near death experience, he combined his influences and imagination to become one of the UAE’s most recognized hip hop stars and active artists in the city with performances at the ABT music festival and STEP music fest among many of Dubai’s local and upcoming talent. Menon talks about how he first got into music, his experience in the music industry and the music scene in Dubai.

-What was your first interaction with music? As a musician? My step brother and I started a two man band when we were 13. He played the drums and I played the guitar, all we knew how to play at the time was Iron Man by Black Sabbath and Highway to Hell by ACDC. I guess you can say we sucked haha, but we had a great time playing those 2 songs over and over again.

-How did you first discover Hip Hop? I lived in Barcelona for a year when I was 15 and my dad sent me a package with a bunch of CD's on my second month there. "The documentary" & "LAX" by The Game, and "T.I vs T.I.P" & "King" by T.I were on rotation that whole year.

Yeah, those projects definitely played a part in setting my foundation and planting the seeds for both my delivery and my desire to be a rapper myself.

-What was it like growing up as a Hip Hop artist in Dubai?

Growing up in Dubai was weird in general. We grew up in Dubai before Dubai was DUBAI. Just a bunch of kids whose parents are from all over the world, all of our classmates and teachers had different accents, traditions and cultures. It's a trip man, but a blessing no doubt. Being a rapper in Dubai though is pretty tough. Especially 5 years ago when there was little to no opportunity. It's getting a lot better now though that's for sure. I can't help but feel proud of the fact that the small scene I was a part of is starting to flourish and get attention from mainstream media.

-How has your unique cultural background contributed to your lyrical content and creativity? Not that much to be honest. When it comes to my delivery and approach, I usually either draw inspiration from artists I look up to, or whatever is going on in my personal life at the time. With that being said, I always make it a point to represent where I'm from and shout out all 3 countries that shaped my character; The Philippines, Sri Lanka, and of course the UAE.

-Tell us about your album “Epiphany of a Misfit.” Man to be honest I can't even listen to that anymore haha. But don't get me wrong, I'm still extremely proud of that project, Rayan and I put in a lot of work on that. Yeah man, that was during one of those times in my life where I realized things aren't as sweet as I thought they were. Working a soul sucking day job for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Getting home at 6pm, going to the studio at 9pm, getting back at 6am, and back to work by 8am. The album cover is literally a picture of my face all beat up. While working on the album I fell asleep driving back home from the studio. That picture was taken 3 days after my accident.

Yeah man, extremely proud of that album. It's a time capsule of my life from 2016-2018.

-What was the music scene like in Dubai when you first started making music and how has it evolved? So I started rapping when I was 17, but didn't really get submerged into the scene until I was 19. I got a call one day from a friend of a friend and he told me he's organizing an event called Dubai Street Jam and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. Of course I said yes. It was awesome man, artists supporting artists, the rapper that was on stage 10 minutes ago is now in the crowd supporting the next act. They must've filled that warehouse with about 100 sweaty people. Looking at the scene now, there's much more fresh talent, and a bunch of opportunities. Everyone likes to complain about how the scene isn't getting as much attention as they think it should, but they forget that just about 6-7 years ago, there was almost no opportunity at all. The scene is still in it's infancy, but it's definitely moving in the right direction.

-What is the inspiration behind your latest single “Mobbin Again”? Me moving to The Philippines after living in Dubai for 26 years, and the circumstances that forced me to move. Having to start from scratch here after building my brand for however many years over there.

-What is your favorite song of yours so far and why? Right now I think it's an unreleased record called "Back Down", the intro of my upcoming album. It straight up represents my attitude towards everything and everyone right now. -Who are 5 artists you dream of collaborating with? Stormzy, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Belly and Korn.

-Tell us about the business side of music, how is it monetizing your music as an independent artist and what it is like maneuvering through the industry? It's hard right now man. The main meat of your revenue comes from live performances and merchandise. As an up and comer you probably won't be making as much selling merch online as you would selling merch in your live performances. Out here in Asia, artists are partnering up with live streaming platforms like Kumu, making a fixed amount every month plus a little extra depending on their engagement. Yeah it's hard right now man, but it's also an opportunity to exercise our creativity. With that being said, a side hustle is never a bad idea.

-From the beginning of your journey until now, what are the 3 most valuable lessons you've learned? 1-Put as much effort on the dry side as the fun side.

2-Don't be a 1 trick pony.

3-If you don't truly believe in yourself, don't do this, it's a long road that can be filled with more downs than ups before your ascension.

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