Jai Paul & The Hype Via Ldn
15 April 2013
In what seems to be the longest build-up in the history of blog hype and the music industry, Jai Paul has finally unleashed what may or may not be his album over on his Bandcamp.
His track BTSTU went round the world of blogs back in 2007 with a demo version of Jasmine later being released on vinyl. Currently he's supposedly signed to XL Recordings. It's completely possible that this Bandcamp release is just a pre-marketing strategy in an age where the marketing strategy counts more than the music. Quite frankly, we don't know and it doesn't matter. During the almost half a decade wait for what does appear to be his album on Bandcamp, BTSTU has been sampled by Beyonce and reworked by Drake. Indicative of the no longer blurry lines between underground-Internet-mainstream it seems an axis between all three has been formed and Jai Paul is the poster child.
Whatever the case Jai Paul’s music seems justifiably hyped. Gated guitars, falsetto vocals, murky pop gems ingrained in original and subtle production, this is a welcome breath of fresh air in the plastic age of gaudy EDM. So far Jai Paul has not failed to meet the very high expectations people have of him. With only one picture of him that has ever surfaced (the one posted above and albeit a great one, he seems keen on matching his baffling production with an unwillingness to disclose much about himself other than his ridiculously good music.
Jai Paul is a West Londoner of Asian descent, but thankfully it seems that the music is far more important than such facts. It seems hype has matured since M.I.A launched her career with XL almost a decade ago and chose to put more emphasis on her image than on her music. Maybe it’s because her music simply wasn't as good as Jai Paul’s music, or because she herself and the bloggers who brought her fame were more simple minded and opportunistic than their modern-day counterparts. Or maybe it’s because she is a woman that she herself and the industry surrounding her chose as a strategy to portray her "exoticness" and H&M style politics more than her actual creative output.
My Panda Shall Fly is more evidence that such an approach has been outdated.
Londoner Suren Seneviratne, the man behind the name, describes himself as a Londoner yet of Sri Lankan descent. This is something you won’t know unless you guess by looking at some of his great pictures or are familiar with tongue-twisting Sri Lankan names. In any case, the music he makes is not really a crossover to pop. It sounds like something you might hear on Brainfeeder or LuckyMe and did in fact come out on Dam Funk’s imprint.
The hilarious video is certainly a multicoloured blogger-hipster-fashion-tinged affair but it is so saturated in self-irony that it also seems far less contrived than the exotic exploitation involved in the creation of hype surrounding artists such as M.I.A.(for being of Sri Lankan descent), Yo Majesty! (for being God-loving, Black lesbians) or African Boy (for being Ghanain), who’s marketing purpose seemed to be to shock their white, suburban, middle-class listeners.
Sure artists needs to create interest around them, but such methods do seem a little demeaning. In the end it seems the listener, the blogger and the artist is getting more savvy and subtly creative producing, marketing and consuming music. In the end it’s often the same people doing all of those things and old formulas won’t work on the same audiences.
Words: Ms Party Pants (Border Movement)