What defines Yung Raja? We cannot quite put our finger on him. Would it be his hit single “Mustafa” or his constant evolution as an artiste. This year, he is vaguely defined by hard-hitting beats compounded with a positive outlook of the future. 2023 has been a productive year for the 27-year old Tamil star. The fastest rising rapper in Singapore has debuted at Rolling Loud in Thailand, launched a new single via Def Jam “Favourite” with award-winning producer, MAGICPOTIONS, and collaborated on a limited edition bespoke choker that plays homage to his Indian heritage.
“I’ll never forget the first time I heard it – it’s rare moments like these when you hear a certain sound, which immediately triggers a flow of creativity instantaneously,”Yung Raja shares of “Favourite”
Popspoken: You are considered one of the fastest rising stars in Singapore’s hip-hop scene. Congratulations on being billed for the Rolling Loud festival. What are you looking forward to in 2023?
Yung Raja: Praise God always. It’s all still very unreal to be honest. 2023 is the year where we take things to the next stage. 2023 is about new levels.
Popspoken: How did you develop your personal sense of style? Share with us one look when you first began your career in music and how it has evolved since.
Yung Raja: It has been a journey of self growth and evolution. When I started my career I used to rock a lot of Chota House Collective, my favourite brand from Singapore. One of the things I really enjoy in my life is the chance to do MV shoots, photoshoots, or getting styled for events – these opportunities to dress up and be find comfort in different looks were key to my evolution. I’d say my sense of style has become incredibly versatile.
Popspoken: Tell us more about “Tanglish”. How has this pervaded into your everyday life. Would they inform your choice of lyrics choices in formulating hits? Share with us the process in the song making process.
Yung Raja: As a Tamil boy growing up in Singapore I have always been able to fluently express both in English and Tamil – it’s my DNA. When I started writing I realised that thoughts were in both languages and they were beautifully symbiotic. That’s when I knew that this is my voice of expression. When I work on a song I’m exploring the world of Tanglish that is totally new and refreshing.
Popspoken: You made a trip to Dubai last year. The Middle East has made heads turn with the extravagance via its recent drop of Beyonce’s debut set in that region. How did that trip impact your view of the region and the trends in relation to popular culture?
Yung Raja: I love travelling so much cause it opens your eyes to what is out there. Coming from such a small country it is very easy for us to live in our own bubble. I did not have any expectations but Dubai showed me there are levels to things. The whole region is just a different wave.
Popspoken: What is life like in Rajasthan? How does jewelry fit into cultural symbolism when it comes to festive occasions?
Yung Raja: I went there once with my family for vacation and I must say out of all the cities I been to there’s nothing quite like Rajasthan. The colours, art, history, culture, jewelery and more, was so inspiring. You see such elaborate Jewelry in almost every painting of royalties and I was told a lot of the gem stones and metal come from there.
Popspoken: Describe the creative process in working with The Jewel Box’s founder Vinod More. Why “Chroma”, what were some of the hip hop influences you made when making your own iconic choker?
Yung Raja: From the first time we met we knew we were gonna work on something that’s unlike any of his other pieces. The entire process of getting inspired during the ideation was beautiful. I would share with him images of Jewelry from Mughal empire or some old painting of a king in Jaipur and share with him how I don’t see guys rock pieces like it anymore. Or at least I have never seen it. I always exploring ways to showcase my culture authentically in the world stage whenever I get a chance to.
I have been a hip hop artiste for a few years now but have been influenced by hip hop culture since I was 10 years old. I grew up seeing Kanye, Lil Wayne, Pharrell, Jay-Z rocking all their custom pieces and how big a part of the culture it is. Rappers competing to see who got the “best piece in the game”. It is also art you know? I have dreamt of the day where I get to do something like that.
The process of making the Chroma Choker brought all of my different worlds of inspirations together. Vinod pieced it perfectly.
The limited edition Chroma choker is valued at 33,000 SGD. For your bespoke needs, visit The Jewel Box’s website. Next up, catch Yung Raja at Andrea Jeremiah’s opening set on 8 July 2023, tickets can be purchased here.