Yung Raja isa man of many strides. An artist who treasures imagination over incongruity, Yung Raja has been a keen observer of traditions while keeping his head tilted to the future — fusing Tamil and English lyricism in new and innovative ways. The rapper, who was also featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for his latest single, ‘Mami’, is working himself further into his global ambitions while keeping his heritage close within. His new single ‘Spice Boy’ doesn’t just display that duality, it shows his roots are what propel him towards greater heights.
With ‘Spice Boy’, produced by hitmakers Flightsch and RIIDEM, he declares it’s time to embrace ourselves and all the multi-dimensional cultural identities in Asian hip-hop. “Since I was a child I’ve always been proud of my culture – my roots, my mother tongue, everything that makes me ‘me’,” Yung Raja shares. “Learning to embrace that, from a very young age, is one of the reasons behind the bilingualism in my art. A bilingual boy, born in Singapore and raised by South Indian parents – this is who I am.”
Southeast Asia’s fast-rising bilingual hip-hop artist, Yung Raja broke into 2021 with ‘Mami’, where he showcased beauty from the lens of his South Asian roots against the backdrop of hip-hop. Today, Yung Raja breaks homogenous expectations of popular culture again with his newest Tanglish single ‘Spice Boy’, a playful exploration of South Asian distinctions embedded in cheeky nods towards Western hip-hop culture, all unified by his radical bilingual wordplay, and powered by earth-shaking trap production.
“I remember first discovering hip-hop music when I was 10 years of age and how it made one of the first and strongest impressions on me creatively. That was the real beginning of my rooted identity and voice amalgamating with hip-hop culture,” explains the bilingual rapper.
Flightsch and RIIDEM are the de-facto architects of his sonic playground. Together, they craft a club-ready beat that reflects the rapper’s colliding worlds, while also adding breadth to its soon-to-be iconic hook. “For my fifth single, FlightSch, RIIDEM and I came together to create a sound that hit home: quirky, banging and mad vibes,” Yung Raja says.
It isn’t a Yung Raja adventure without a music video that floors all expectations, and the “mad vibes” can only be amped up by Vadbibes, aka director and longtime collaborator Jasper Tan. The three-minute cinematic romp is fused together by madcap action, curly wigs, inflated sumo costumes and disorienting closeups — all of which are wonderfully captured by Tan’s carefree sense of the surreal. Comical antics are set in formidable locations looking straight out of Hollywood, but Yung Raja takes centerstage by invoking the brash spirit of Rajnikanth.