Crown The Brown Exclusive: Yung Raja
Yung Raja for Mensfolio Editorial November 2019 | photography: @joellowphotography | styling: @wslimwilson | photography assistant: Aflie Pan | Stylist assistant: Joe Tan | Grooming and hair: @Shashamsi
For those who are not familiar with you, who is Yung Raja?
What inspired your name?
Where you always into music? or did it develop over time?
It definitely developed overtime. I have always been a crazy obsessed, heavy consumer of hip hop from about 10 years old. That’s also the first time I heard it from my sister’s Walkman. I gathered my influences for about 10 years before deciding to make my own music.
How is your platform different from other artists?
I feel like I’m right in the centre of the golden age or internet, especially for artists. It feels like the golden age because artistes like lil nas x can put out a song and it can go diamond. Fariz and I tasted a little, localized version of such Twitter virality.
It was at the dawn of our careers and that really helped to spearhead us into mainstream success. We used the internet as a direct feedback loop with our fans, and it worked.
Yung Raja for Mensfolio Editorial | photography: @joellowphotography | styling: @wslimwilson | photography assistant: Aflie Pan | Stylist assistant: Joe Tan | Grooming and hair: @Shashamsi
What defines you as an artist?
My unique South Indian/Singaporean flavour. Rapping about things I’ve never heard before in raps… Having fun and always remembering to bring a positive energy to anything we create. If you check out my latest single, “Mad Blessings” you’ll know that’s what it is about! If I were to put it simply, originality and positivity.
What are some of the challenges you have faced coming into the industry and how have you overcome this?
Learning about my spiritual energy and how that affects the people in a room. Learning how to deal with rejections, how to be persistent, how to find the next opportunity and such. I am grateful because I always had my head in the right space. Being the only son, it has always been a top priority for me to succeed. I learnt my lessons at the right time, and it came from the right people.
What is your biggest achievement thus far?
Supporting my parents in every way especially financially. I’m now that pillar they were hoping me to be.
What is something you want people to take away from your music?
Everyone has the power to influence people positively or negatively. People need to understand that I’ve made a choice to always stick with the first. Regardless of your field, if you make a choice to positively influence people, we can move mountains. Positive energy all the way.
What advice to you have for aspiring artists/ people trying to break into the industry?
Understand your energy. Master it. Having bad energy leads to bad attitude, which leads to people not wanting to be around you, leading to you not being able to form the right team. It all starts with you knowing your energy.
“Talent/skill is a very small part of the equation.”
Your song Mustafa, has gained much popularity across the world. Take us through the process of how the song Mustafa came about?
It was a funny process! We wanted to create something everyone could relate to especially Singaporeans. I’ve been to Mustafa since I was a kid. You can find everything there. So we flipped that idea in the studio, and said “call me Yung Mustafa” because I got everything people need from an artiste. Any style, any flow. We thought it was cool to say that. I Guess people like that idea.
What are some things that motivate your writing of songs?
Ideas. Flows. Sometimes even some Tamil words that I hear in a conversation which leads to me writing some rhymes.. which then becomes a part of a song we create months later. It’s really fluid and non constricted.
Growing up who were some of your influences, or artists you look up to?
AR Rahman was a big part because we only listened to Tamil songs all the time. Movies and it’s soundtracks were hugely a part of my childhood. Some of my influences later in my life include rappers like Eminem, Notorious BIG, Kanye West.
Can we expect any new music from you?
Oh definitely. It’s gonna be a hot 2020.
Your music resonates with people from all walks of life, and people from the Indian diaspora from across the world. In which moment did you realize that your music can reach all parts of the world?
When MIA hit me up after I released poori gang, that was defining moment of validation for me. Soon I had people tell me they like my style.. what started as trial and error/experimental, became real and loved by people. Truly blessed.
Photography by @flightsch
Any upcoming tours for the year 2020?
Possibly. Can’t wait to get to that part of my career.
One thing you live by?
Yung Raja is definitely an artist worth streaming! His creativity has inspired many others and he is certainly destined for greater things! We cannot wait to see what the future holds for this Yung Mustafa of a Raja! Be sure to follow his journey on Instagram @yungraja and stream him on spotify!