Arts Music Singapore

Music Is: Yung Raja releases new EP ‘MIKE’

‘MIKE’ is Yung Raja’s first-ever EP and surprise release for fans. Released at midnight, ‘MIKE’, produced by Flightsch & RIIDEM, caps off a streak of wins for the rapper this year: Yung Raja was named one of NME’s Top 100 essential emerging artists of 2021, his hit single ‘Spice Boy’ debuted on Spotify’s Viral 50 Singapore & Malaysia charts just one day after its release, and he received a shoutout from none other than Jimmy Fallon on live US television for his single ‘Mami’.

In this three-track stunner, ‘MIKE’ displays the Singaporean rapper’s innovative versatility. Ever the clever wordsmith, fusing English and Tamil bars like no other, ‘MIKE’ lifts Yung Raja to a higher level of wordplay, confidence, and finesse. “This project came from a different part of my soul that I’ve not put on paper before,” Yung Raja says. ‘MIKE’ is a pivotal point in his career, one where he continues to grow as Southeast Asia’s fast-rising bilingual hip-hop artist.

Right off the bat, its title track contains all the hallmarks of a classic Yung Raja romp: he invokes Western pop culture references – from gemstones to Gucci, void decks to Gigi Hadid – with soundscapes and lyricism rooted in his South Asian Tamil identity. Yung Raja is exceptional at drawing and reworking the boundaries of everyday aspiration and material goods.

While his distinguishable subject matter remains, Yung Raja will enthrall fans with a new direction that trades the eccentric, bright production we know for blazing trap beats bearing South Indian-infused scales, preparing listeners for the changes to come. The rapper, who has always known exactly when to inject fun and frivolity in his music, stakes his claim as a mystifying presence with ‘MIKE’, leaving much anticipation for greater Yung Raja moves in the future.

“These three songs are my story. The story of striving to thrive,” Yung Raja says of ‘MIKE’. Its title track captures what the rapper calls “a very interesting part” of his life. It’s one full of new escapades and thrill-seeking fun, but with a harder-edged attitude – something that Yung Raja has discovered for himself lately. “I learned so much in the process of creating this project,” he says. “I’ve never felt this free in my life… in my thoughts and expressions. The importance was placed solely on how we feel rather than what’s ‘right.’”

Now fully invigorated for his next phase, Yung Raja leaves his fans with a message: “This project is very special to me. Dedicated to my Tamizhans worldwide – To my mikes, from your mike, Shtambi Raja.”

‘MIKE’ is available now on all streaming platforms. Listen here.

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