Singapore-based rapper Yung Raja holds his Tamil roots close to his heart
Dubbed as Southeast Asia’s next avant-garde bilingual hip-hop artiste, Yung Raja has a unique ability to blend two cultures. The bilingual, Singapore-based artiste who melds Western and Tamil culture in a seamless sequence, collaborated with Indian rapper Naezy last weekend at Zomaland@home, an online event organised by Singapore Tourism Board and Zomato. Post the high-octane performance Raja, who amassed over 3 million streams and views on Spotify and YouTube with his tracks Mustafa and Mad Blessings, speaks about the freestyle session with Naezy, proudly celebrating his culture and heritage through his music and more. Excerpts:
How was it collaborating with Naezy?
This is my first ever collaboration with Naezy and it was exciting for me to interact with another rap artiste who is so established and is a familiar name in the rapping scene in India. I would like to thank the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Zomato for this opportunity and for creating some interesting content for the Indian audience, as a part of the Zomaland@home initiative. The overall experience was thrilling as we both have very unique styles.
You rap in Tamil and English. How discerning is the audience to the language in Singapore?
Rapping in both Tamil and English is something that is very close to my heart and I am very passionate about it as it allows me to embrace my roots. I am quite glad and honoured the way my music has been received by people. Singapore is a multi-cultural place and very progressive at the same time. It is a melting pot of everything from music, arts, food and lots more, which makes it easy to find inspiration here because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who are similarly passionate about what they do.
What inspired you to become a rapper?
It has to be my passion for hip-hop and rapping. Multifaceted and renowned hip-hop artists like Drake and Travis Scott and Indian artistes like Rajnikanth have been big influences. I am amazed at how a single man like Drake or Travis Scott can create a legacy in such a short time and impact so many lives positively through music. I hope to do the same as an Asian rap singer.
I have always held my Tamil roots close to my heart and get most of my inspiration from the area I have lived in all my life – Little India in Singapore. I am inspired by music that connects with the pulse of the people and is infused with the local culture. I was born and brought up in a Tamil speaking home in Singapore. I have learnt English in school and speak it well, but as you see the two languages represents my distinctively different sides, which have now merged in my creations. I like showcasing my bilingual flow and proudly celebrate my heritage and identity.
Of all the projects which one is closest to your heart?
We recently made a project called ‘Stay Home’ which was an initiative by my label Universal Music Singapore! It was one of the most heart-warming and uplifting projects I’ve been lucky to be a part of with some of the most amazing Singaporean artistes. I will never forget how the team was able to turn this project around in such a short period of time. Truly an amazing effort. Shout out to my team!
What are you working on currently?
This has been an interesting time for inspiration and creation. I am glad to say that during this downtime my team and I have been able to plan and prepare for upcoming projects and I’m really excited to share with the world when we can!