It’s always interesting to trace the birth of a musical genre in a certain region or country. Anoj, stage name OJ Da Tamil Rapper, who hails from Sri Lanka has studied the origin of rap in his country and according to him, the grass roots rapping in Sri Lanka started in St Thomas Bandarawela.
The rap culture in Sri Lanka was apparently big when OJ was 11 and drumming on his classroom bench while he found like-minded rap enthusiastic beatboxers. He reminisces the school culture where the seniors would rap and beatbox and challenge the might of the other with the art of rapping during school breaks. OJ was deeply involved in the rap culture and remembers memorising the lyrics to rap albums like Dr Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ and having rap battles with the seniors. The school also encouraged rap battles in talent shows and this is how OJ with three of his other friends made a group called ‘Hip Lez Hop‘.
OJ loved the West Coast rappers including Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Tech N9ne. He started writing lyrics by the time he was 15 and his crew helped him with it. The members of his crew included Jonathan aka Nasty who could play instruments and compose whereas the other two members Dominic and Araviee backed him up with vocals and rhymes. The band initially spoke about their lives and surroundings and would rap in Tamil which was their first language which gave them a bed of words to play with.
OJ now raps about war, hunger, humanity and nature. He talks about God creating the earth and regretting it because of the way human beings are and the troubles they cause. He lives in Nuwara Eliya and takes care of his father’s seven-acre farm. With very little recording facility where he lives, OJ kind of gave up on his passion but with a push and nudge from his friend Liham Hossen, OJ started making constant trips to Colombo. He would practice his rap for hours, go into the studio and record his vocals without spending too long in recording, thus cutting the cost and expense.
OJ is currently recording tracks and working on material for an album. He also recently collaborated with a Hindi musician Mann Thenaja and their collaboration material will be released on Sony Music, India, which is a big step for OJ.