Storytelling school

Hip-hop, poetry and musical storytelling collide in Suyash Dasgupta’s book “Chosen” –

It’s not very often that school projects lead to publishing not just a novel, but also composing two hip-hop songs to enhance the plot, but that’s what happened with the first book in the series. Singaporean writer Suyash Dasgupta. Selected.

A 12th grade student at Singapore American School, Dasgupta says he Selected — which was released in January via Academic Foundation — took root in a course project called Catalyst. “[It’s] a course designed to give students time to explore passions they typically don’t have time to partake in. This led the 17-year-old to write a novel that uses verse, lending itself to the quality of a sort of musical-drama. Selected follows the story of classmates Mason Green and Jordan Turner at the fictional Roscommon Middle School in Michigan, as they come to terms with each other and their turbulent family life.

Where Dasgupta adds a new dimension is by incorporating two rap songs “Chosen” and “Till My Last Breath” into the plot, with the help of producer Anish Denoon aka Kombat and rapper Vas Angelov. The dynamic songs with American hip-hop tendencies rightly give a sense of the characters and setting of Selected and they’ve already amassed over 30,000 streams on Spotify. Dasgupta adds, “I wanted to tackle issues that I don’t think are talked about enough and bring them into the conversation through a novel, especially the less talked about aspects of male mental health.”

The inclusion of music in the book also reflected Dasgupta’s understanding of how young people listen to songs more than they might read a book. “A lot of people my age don’t spend their free time reading, but a lot of people still spend a lot of time listening to music. I wanted to build a more explicit relationship between my novel and the music. I decided to write and to produce my own songs (which are canonically songs made by Mason’s father) and incorporate them into the storyline of my novel, creating a multi-sensory experience.In a sense, listening to the songs can also inspire a listener to take the delivered.

On that note, tune into “Chosen” and “Till My Last Breath” below and purchase the book here.