Breaking barriers

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Documentary chronicles rise of aspiring Asian American rapper

Princeton Day School seniors are breaking barriers as they embark on redefining the racial boundaries of hip hop.

“It’s not often people hear about an Indian American filmmaker and a Chinese American rapper, but that never slowed either of us down,” Devan Sakaria said. “While it may be too early in my career to call anything my ‘magnum opus,’ this documentary feels like it could live up to that title.”

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On Feb. 28, Devan premiered his latest project “To The Moon: The Documentary,” a 20-minute film chronicling Gavin – his rise as an up-and-coming high school Asian American rapper – known by his stage name “g.vn.”

The film currently streams on YouTube and is set to have multiple live premieres across the tri-state area.

Through passion and determination, Yang breaks stereotypes, builds new relationships, and discovers himself as an artist. Yang was first inspired by the acclaimed hip-hop artist Eminem to write his first rhymes in middle school, and has since used music as an outlet for expression. The film highlights his journey in writing and producing his debut album, The Collection, a project that Devan and Gavin embarked on to redefine the racial boundaries of hip-hop.

“There was a time when I couldn’t imagine someone who looks like me rapping, yet here I am now,” Gavin said. “The documentary is an insight into my identity as a musician and as a person, something I was often afraid to show the world.”

In the documentary, Gavin said he’s working on not being the next Justin Bieber or Drake, but “just me.”

Devan proposed the phrase “To The Moon” as the film’s title as it represents both their career aspirations. Devan, the primary editor for the non-profit organization Art Against Racism, has three short narrative films, five music videos, and an array of commercial projects for brands like TRP Cycling, US Squash, and The Meeting House under his belt. He hopes to continue his passion for filmmaking throughout his life.

After high school, the college paths of Devan and Gavin will send them to different parts of the country; however, they expect to continue to work together to produce creative content.

Devan has a message for young Asian Americans, who also want to break barriers and forge their own paths.

“There’s nothing more powerful than letting ignorant comments bounce off your shell while you do great things,” Devan said. “There are a lot of people out there trying to dictate what the youth can or can’t do, should or shouldn’t do, but when you ignore the noise, keep your head up, and move forward, you’ll find that you can achieve greatness.”

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