Arts Interview Music Singapore

Music Is: Yung Raja becomes first Singaporean to appear on NME Hot 100 list with single ‘Mami’

Screenshot 2021-03-30 at 8.52.00 AM

Yung Raja‘s foray into the U.S. begins with the release of “Mami”, alongside Alamo Records, home to some of the hottest hip-hop acts such as Lil Durk and Smokepurpp. The artist, who has been dubbed as Southeast Asia’s next avant-garde hip-hop artist known for his tasteful unification of English and Tamil lyricism, breaks into the global market today with the psychedelic, trap-heavy new single produced by long-time collaborator Flightsch. Yung Raja infuses his signature multi-lingual wordplay, creating another addictive offering loaded with cultural references.

Yung Raja is on an ascent to bridge the gap of Southeast Asia’s force into the mainstream music lexicon. Just last month he was included on NME’s 100 list, appearing as the first ever Singaporean to make the platform’s coveted “artist to watch” list. With “Mami”, Raja continues to earn that moniker showcasing what he aims to bring to the global stage — a sound that is foreign yet equally familiar to music lovers everywhere.

The past few Yung Raja singles have zeroed in on the Indian rapper’s heritage, identity and freewheeling way of life in Singapore. With his Alamo Records debut, “Mami” puts Yung Raja’s unique ability to bridge and amalgamate all cultures in focus. The usage of “mami” is part of a long-standing tradition across languages and in hip-hop party anthems. In 2021, Yung Raja marries the multi-dimensional meanings and manifests a new definition for the term, celebrating beauty and the female form in all its gold-embroidered splendour. “Mami” is yet another precisely engineered banger for the clubs. Flightsch’s intuitive use of trap beats echo the playfulness and goofy flirtation that Yung Raja carries effortlessly in both English and Tamil.

The song is imbued by Yung Raja’s snappy and evocative wordplay, capturing the fleeting highs that come with a romantic pursuit and proving that humour, confidence, and craft are all endearing trademarks of the 26-year-old rapper. “I do it like me cause my style is new / I’m pulling off quick with all kinds of moves / Roja on me bet she find it cute / Ya know I’m that neruppu (fire) flight produced” The rapper first set out to define himself as a distinct Indian presence in the culture-clash battleground of Singaporean hip-hop. Now, with ascending star-power behind him, he’s taking it to further assert his culture and its visibility — but not without some fun.

Its music video — shot by Bless7Up and edited & graded by Jasper Tan of Vadbibes — doubles up on the opulence with a dash of comic delight. Awash with vivid colours and a psychedelic daze, the rapper is seen surfing on dollar bills, climbing on stacks of saris and jewelry, and partying in distinct locations: decadent hotel rooms, department stores and a nondescript warehouse — where a “Mami” doll comes to life before an unsuspecting Yung Raja. It’s a breezy and absorbing romp, one that injects unshakeable life and energy into the mundane.

Listen to Mami on Spotify

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