Rapper Raja Kumari drops new single with Divine on Indian hip-hop charts
The Grammy-award nominated American-Indian rapper Raja Kumari speaks about the song, City Slums and trends in Indian hip hop
“Daughter of the king American dream, phir bhi dil mein Hindustani,” raps American-Indian songwriter Raja Kumari in the streets of Mumbai in her new music video. This one line captures the essence of the Svetha Rao aka Raja Kumari’s identity, just as the video captures the spirit of Mumbai and a current tide of hip hop in India.
After collaborating with the likes of Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy, Raja Kumari travels a little closer to home with this single called City Slums, featuring Mumbai-based rapper Divine, “I’ve been a fan of Divine for many years and he was always on my wish list for a collaboration,” the 31-year-old tells us on a phone interview. “I love the vibe of Divine’s Meri Gully Mein. I’m so glad my first Indian collab is with him” she adds.
The video shows the rappers driving around a jeep on the Sealink and dancing in the slums, with of snapshots of street kids and local Bombayites. Raja Kumari’s love for the city is evident from the way she speaks about it, “It was really exciting for me to shoot the video. When I first came to Mumbai from LA I felt like I could really relate to the city. I felt this is one place I could live in India. The city captivated my imagination and is an inspiration to me.”
Raja Kumari says she wanted to show people in India that there is so much Indian culture outside of India as well. “Here on I want to focus on showing people here my music and incorporate more classical Indian music and more fusion tunes,” says the singer who is now splitting her time between Mumbai and LA. She also plans to come down to Bengaluru and do more music with a South Indian vibe.
It is a really exciting time for hip hop in India right now. With a crop of artistes such as Divine, Naezy, Nucleya and more giving voice to a generation, hip hop is now noticeably part of the mainstream. “Ï can see that it has infiltrated Bollywood music as well. And I think it is going to be even more popular,” shares Raja Kumari, adding, “I think we relate to it because of the rhythm of it.”
She feels the future of Indian hip hop lies in more regional artistes rapping socially conscious verses in vernacular languages, which is already happening. “Even in LA, I see a shift towards people listening to say Arabic hip hop and French hip hop,” she tells us. Whether it's Marathi rapper MC Mawali, Tripura-based Borkung Hrangkhawl aka BK, Sufi rapper MC Kash, or Brodha V and Smokey the Ghost from Bengaluru, the sounds are getting hyper-local. As Raja Kumari’s song says, “It’s coming from the gully, it's coming from the city slum slums,” and its being heard everywhere.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?