Malay rapper CJL hopes his new single, Lepak Mamak, will connect him to India

Tamil rap artiste CJL hopes his new single will reach out to a larger international Tamil audience, beyond his home in Johor, Malaysia
Rapper CJL
Rapper CJL

He’s the winner of the hugely popular Malaysian Tamil rap competition, Rap Porkalam, and is now a well-known name within Chennai’s rap sub-culture. Logeswara Rao aka CJL (Crowns of Johor Logeswara) is now hoping his new single, Lepak Mamak, will help him cement his entry into the Tamil rap fan-base in India. We catch up with him for a quick conversation about his latest single.

What does your new single Lepak Mamak mean? And since you are hoping to make an entry into Tamil audiences in India, do you think a Malay title for a song would work?
Lepak Mamak is a term that we fondly use in Malaysia which refers to ‘let us hangout’ or ‘let us chill in a mamak (open-air) restaurant’. I wanted my song to be casual and relatable to the younger audiences. Yes, I’m aware of that fact but it will also be a fact of curiosity. It’s a catchy phrase and I’m sure that the Tamil audiences in India are going to love it.

Tamil rappers from Malaysia are a genre in itself and annals can be written about it — where do you draw your influences from and how would you define your personal style of rap?
I was inspired by some of the Malaysian Rappers like Yogi B and Natchatra and that’s how I started rapping. When I was young, I used to rap some local and Kollywood rap songs and practice. Then I started to write my own lyrics and that’s how I grew as a rapper. My personal style or rap would be Indian trap with some old school flows.

We noticed the usage of Telugu lyrics in some of your songs...
My mother tongue is actually Telugu and that’s why there’s a Telugu influence in my music.

Rappers in Tamil Nadu seem to be focusing on a lot of social activism through their songs. Can this be said about Tamil rappers from Malaysia too?
Yes, there are a lot of rappers here who focus on social activism. We mostly focus on equality and our rights; but my rap focuses on my own journey and the struggles I faced and about Rap Porkalam (a Malaysian Tamil Rap Competition) that I won.

Since you are keen on introducing yourself to Tamil audiences in India, how are you planning to do that and are you looking at Kollywood music producers for future collaborations?
I’m hoping for Lepak Mamak to reach Tamil rap audiences in India and hoping for them to notice me through this single. I’ll keep doing more work that’s aimed at an Indian audience after this and I would love to work with Yuvan Shankar Raja and Anirudh one day. I’m a big fan of their work.

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