V-Shan Changes Lanes With Debut Album ‘Essay Format’

Freestyler Brings Variety to His Creative Process

V-Shan is set to release his first album ‘Essay Format’ in mid-November. Courtesy Ben Joppke
V-Shan has been performing in jam sessions around Montreal, like Le Cypher and Mercredi Live. Courtesy Ben Joppke

“Freestyling is fun and all and it’s a challenge but I really want to create,” said Montreal rapper V-Shan. “I’m not going to go home and freestyle, I’m going to go home and write.”

“[It’s] what I want to do. A lot of people just know me as a freestyle rapper,” he said.

V-Shan is taking a major step in his career. His debut album Essay Format is set to release in mid-November.

A young rapper known for his lyrical freestyling and regular live performances at jam sessions around Montreal like Le Cypher and Mercredi Live, V-Shan is transitioning into a new kind of project in this album.

V-Shan’s consistent work as a live performer and freestyler is one of the things that keeps him growing as an artist.

“It keeps you on your toes, it’s a non-stop learning process,” he explained.

When he’s on stage, surrounded by top tier performers whose work he loves, it’s a push to better his craft, to pick up on new things, and to test where he stands as a performer. It’s a chance for new challenges with every performance.

Working towards a new project and step in his career, that’s something he’s channeled into his creative process.

“I made sure it’s a song you can feel. You feel what I felt when writing it.” — V-Shan

It’s different to go from participating in freestyle events, to putting together a debut album. The creative process, timeline of production, and the many details that go into coming up with an album are a whole new experience. But it’s where V-Shan wants to be going in his career.

He wants to be putting out more projects like this and feels it’s the point that he’s reached in his career now.

V-Shan and his new work offer something that makes him as unique of an artist as he is: variety.

“I just do whatever I like,” said V-Shan. “I used to tell myself: I have to write about this or this. Then I just started going with whatever I felt. Now whatever I feel is what’s coming out.”

The rapper writes how he feels, and this is what we can hear in his first single “Demons.”

A fan of old-school rap and new age trap along with plenty in between, the up-and-coming artist doesn’t shackle himself to one style or genre. In both Essay Format and his work up to this point, V-Shan has prided himself on putting out the kind of music that he wants to listen to, rather than being defined too narrowly.

According to the artist, the album itself is as varied as his style. He tried to create something with songs that everyone can enjoy, regardless of what kind of rap they like.

Essay Format blends things like slow paced, autotuned love songs with the grungy “Demons,” the first single released from the album.

“I made sure it’s a song you can feel. You feel what I felt when writing it,” said V-Shan. “At the time I was going through a ton of shit. People questioning me, me questioning myself, and a bunch of shit was catching up from my past.”

“I felt angry and alone and scared but somehow I felt in control? And powerful? Because I knew that no matter what I’m still here kicking.”

The song itself feels like a battle. With heavy beats coursing through the track, V-Shan’s anger and unwillingness to surrender to demons from within or without are evident.

V-Shan wants to release a few EPs next year. Courtesy Ben Joppke

His growth towards this goal is particularly special to see for Bea di Vinci, another Montreal-based rapper, who met V-Shan about two years ago when they were performing at the same open mic.

They would go on to become close friends, perform at plenty of events together, and generally being big fans of the work the other was creating.

With Essay Format in particular, she’s seen the process of conceptualizing the album, the drafts of it that were scrapped or reworked, and the long time that’s led to this point. It’s all of this that has her so excited for the world to hear the final product.

“That’s a testament to how much he really does care about the art. He really wants it to be meaningful and representative of who he is and where he’s at now,” said di Vinci.

From the first time she saw V-Shan, di Vinci was impressed by his dedication and work with the craft of rap. He was an MC more than a commercial rapper.

“He was lyrical and a lot of the stuff he was saying really makes you think,” she noted.

V-Shan has been encouraged by the positive feedback he’s been getting online in response to the single. He’ll be releasing more singles as the album drop date gets closer.

As excited as he is about Essay Format, there’s already a look towards the future. The plan for V-Shan is to drop three or four EPs next year and keep up with the work that has already begun on future projects.

Right now, he’s working to create and loving it. As much work goes into it and as tired as one gets from a combination of school, a job, working freestyle events, and producing content, V-shan is feeling “a gratifying kind of tired.”