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The real comeback of this Coachella is that of Jai Paul

The British artist performed for the first time in a decade of a crazy career

The real comeback of this Coachella is that of Jai Paul The British artist performed for the first time in a decade of a crazy career

That the upcoming one to conclude would be an edition of Coachella to remember we knew from the beginning, but probably not for the reason many expected. If the six-day music event in the Indio desert had captured the general attention from the start because of the presence of artists such as Bad Bunny, Rosalía, and especially Frank Ocean, the real surprise for many was the presence of another name on the festival's bill: Jai Paul. The story of the British artist, born Jai Raj Paul, belongs to another generation of music fans, those who grew up with the spasmodic search for the "Next Big Thing" decreed by NME and the MySpace myth. It was there that Jai Paul's story began when on an anonymous day in 2007 the song BTSTU (Demo) made an appearance on his profile. On sale for only one pound, and with a photo of Gabriel Omar Batistuta in his Fiorentina days as a cover, success for the song came only in 2010: blogs and trade magazines began to speak glowingly about the piece, while the Guardian included it in its "New Band of the Week" list. Paul's career seemed to be on the rise, to the point that only a few months later the artist found himself signing a contract with XL Recordings, the British label that released Jai Paul's first official single on April 21 the following year: a reworked version of his debut single, renamed BTSTU (Edit) for the occasion.

The track, sampled first by Drake and then by Beyonce in "Dream Money Can Buy" and "End of Time," respectively, was then followed by the British artist's second single, Jasmine (demo), officially released on April 9, 2012, by XL and accompanied by the now constant roar of applause from music critics - Pitchfork named it "Best New Track" and the New York Times spoke of "Prince was sensuality." But while Zane Lowe compared Paul to Dilla and D'Angelo, few expected what was to happen shortly thereafter. On April 14, 2013, what were for all intents and purposes tracks from Jai Paul's as-yet-unreleased album made their appearance on Bandcamp. Although some thought it was a marketing move, the songs were clearly incomplete, leaving little doubt as to what had happened. The tracks had been uploaded, and offered for sale, without the artist's permission, allegedly stolen from Paul's own stolen laptop, and although they had been removed from Bandcamp their dissemination was now uncontrolled.

What happened after that fateful day perfectly explains Jai Paul's status and importance in the music world, a role the British artist has earned with a few singles and a presence constantly shrouded in mystery. There is a video in which Caribou talks about Jasmine as a teenager ahead of his first crush, while in another video Ed Sheeran comments on the song as someone who has realized he has definitely had his day. The same record, released far from official, nevertheless ended up on the Album of the Year charts occupying the top positions and earning dozens and dozens of rave reviews. But while everyone was clamoring for new music from Jai Paul, the Indian-born musician chose the opposite path, disappearing from the scene in complete silence. Years went by, and as fans opened Facebook groups to try to find Paul in a sort of collective manhunt, hope seemed to be gone. A first sign of life came in 2016 when the British musician opened the Paul Institute, a platform for emerging artists founded with his brother A. K. Paul. Three years later, Jai Paul made his return to the music scene by officially releasing the previously leaked record, and for that very reason renamed Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones), accompanied by a message explaining the reasons behind his prolonged absence: «I was frustrated by how all this was being framed online, leading to the widespread belief that I had decided to leak my own music, despite my record label and I saying otherwise. It didn't fit at all with anything I had done previously in style or attitude, and especially not in presentation.» With the release of the two b-sides "He" and "Do You Love Her Now," Paul had finally broken a seven-year silence, putting behind him for good a moment that the artist himself described as extremely difficult.

@i_d HE LOOKS SO HAPPY #jaipaul #coachella #coachella2023 #str8outtamumbai original sound - i-D

The latest chapter, or perhaps the first chapter of a new story, however, was consummated a few days ago, when Jai Paul took the stage for the first time, guesting at Coachella to perform his music live exactly ten years that April 14, 2013. Almost a sign of destiny for a story that has the incredible, but more importantly the unrepeatable. If today's music industry and those who populate it thrive on fleeting hits and viral catchphrases, today's inattentive audiences would hardly have had the same patience as those who have for more than a decade waiting for Jai Paul's return to the scenes. Knowing that it would be worth it.