Singaporean Tamil rapper Yung Raja on his latest single ‘The Dance Song’ that is all about owning one’s identity
It’s all about the vibes with Yung Raja, the 25-year-old Singaporean hip hop artiste whose latest single — ‘The Dance Song’ — is picking up traction on streaming platforms. Since its release two weeks ago, the song has been viewed over 4.5 lakh times on YouTube.
Raja’s parents emigrated to Singapore, where he was born and raised, from Tamil Nadu nearly two decades ago. But the young rapper prefers to put Tamil culture front and centre of the music he creates; for instance, ‘The Dance Song’ bears Rajinikanth and Tamil cinema influences. Over a phone call from Singapore, Raja asserts that he chooses to promote this multilingual brand of music.
“My [Tamil] culture and my language is rich. But for it to be digestive or resonate with someone who does not understand it, there should not be a barrier,” he says, explaining the reason why he mixes English into his songs. “Being bilingual is unique only to certain parts of the world. I am someone who speaks Tamil and English equally. So, it is an advantage I have,” he adds.
‘The Dance Song’ is amusing. For one, you have Raja making the waves: he dances to the song by waving his hands and body out of rhythm; the lyrics — a part of the verse goes: “…this ponnu in love with my kolanthe face, her aunty gon tell me how this kolambu taste, buggers with pulippu push me to moradan stage (sic)…” — also doesn’t lack mirth.
Yet Raja maintains that there is something beyond the entertainment aspect. “It is a song that people can watch and totally forget about what is going on around the world”, he says, describing it as a track that celebrates owning one’s identity.
“That is the most important message. I think people don’t understand how much identity is valued in today’s world. Being a part of the hip hop community, I have the unique privilege of being able to speak the truth through my art,” he says, adding, “For me, being an artiste is a privilege. It is not just about uplifting people and bringing them together, but to be able to tell them who Yung Raja is in an uncut manner… it is something I take pride in.”
Raja is now associated with the marquee music label Def Jam, which is known for its association with musicians like Jay-Z, Rihanna, Ludacris and Kanye West. Raja, too, is looking forward to pull clear of other emerging hip hop talents from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam etc., by addressing a common complaint levelled against him: that he doesn’t produce enough music. “I have released only one song a year in the last two years. That structure is going to change, and there will be more music and more vibes.”