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Julian Assange: From free speech guru to rapper

The WikiLeaks founder joins the ranks of the unlikely recording stars

Lauren Dunne
Sunday 16 June 2013 00:03 BST
Assange is collaborating with the hip-hop band Calle 13
Assange is collaborating with the hip-hop band Calle 13 (EPA)

First Julian Assange got together with the Ecuadorean diplomatic corps to avoid the long arm of the Swedish law. Now, having got the taste for going Latin, he's embarking on a venture with a Puerto Rican alternative hip-hop band. It's called Calle 13, and Mr Assange, who made his name in another branch of the download business, will help write a track for the band's next album.

Three days ago, reportedly, the WikiLeaks founder was visited by one of the band's members, one Rene Perez Joglar (alias "Residente") for an ideas session which was broadcast over Twitter. A further bout of versifying will follow, with possible input from the public. Residente, something of an activist himself, has said he and Mr Assange will be "offering a first verse as a guide to build on, with public response".

This Wednesday, Mr Assange will pass the first anniversary of being holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in an effort to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is under investigation for alleged sex offences. He believes the claims are a ruse so he can eventually be sent to the US for trial over the leaking of formerly secret US cables. The authorities deny this.

Mr Assange will not be the first person to branch unexpectedly into the music business. Detention has also served as suitable inspiration for the Chinese contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei. He has announced the release of his new heavy metal song "Dumbass" from his forthcoming album Divine Comedy, which apparently helped him come to terms with his 81-day sentence.

It's all part of a worrying trend of people who shouldn't be making music doing exactly that – as in the case of the socialite Nicky Haslam, whose Midnight Matinée album might charitably be considered a good accompaniment to an envelope-opening party, and that of the American film director David Lynch who next month, perhaps seeing more of a future in the blues than Blue Velvet, releases a second CD, entitled The Big Dream.

We all know about the travesties inflicted on our ears by Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton, who at least had the showbiz savvy for promotional duties.

So what will the heavily trailed interest in music announced by models Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne sound like? If they ever invent a chart for the most ill-advised adventures in front of a mic, there will be considerable jostling for the top spot.

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