Yung Raja on "Mad Blessings", authenticity, and the rise of Asian hip-hop
Yung Raja has a lot to be grateful for and he is sharing it through his new catchy single, "Mad Blessings". The track was released last week with an equally blithe music video directed by Singaporean filmmaker Jasper Tan aka Vadbibes and featured Raja's parents as well as frequent collaborators Fariz Jabba and Flightsch who produced the track. "Mad Blessings" is also the very first release under the newly signed partnership between Raja's management, MADEYOUFAMOUS and regional hip-hop powerhouse, Def Jam Southeast Asia. With a focus on elevating and bringing Asian hip-hop to the world, Raja once again showcases his English-Tamil flow. In the middle of a press tour in Malaysia, he lets us in on the genesis of the track and the possibility of an EP in the near future.
What was the genesis of "Mad Blessings"?
The creation of it was super organic and natural for all of us within the team. About a year ago, I used to say the term "mad blessings" a lot in conversations and in my Instagram captions. I didn't intend for it to become a song. One day, Flightsch and I were talking about it and thought it would be cool if we made it into a song. When we got into the studio, it all fell together. It was a period of time when great things were happening in all of our lives, especially in our MADEYOUFAMOUS team.
Your positivity and enthusiasm is refreshing, especially in the world of commercial hip-hop where it's all about being gangster, making money, bling, and women. Are you consciously trying to be different by moving away from superficiality?
I'm consciously trying to be myself. The cool thing about hip-hop is, you have to be yourself. If you try to be anything other than yourself, it wouldn't work. People would be able to feel that and spot you like a black sheep. It's not what the culture is about. I understand the common stigmas that hip-hop and rap might have. For me, it's more about exploring my own flavour and giving people a sense of what I resonate with personally.
Your parents are featured in the MV for "Mad Blessings". How do they feel about what you do and was it hard for you to get them to be in it?
Actually, not at all! My parents agreed to it in a heartbeat. They've always been supportive of everything that I do for as long as I can remember. They've always been pretty intrigued by my passions and the line of work that I chose at a young age. My dad has, secretly, always wanted to be an actor or somebody within the media industry as well and my mom has a natural flair in front of the camera, so when I asked them to be in my video, they were so excited because they were huge fans of "Mustafa", which was the first song that I released. They actually watch the video all the time as a family together. On top of that, it also made it so much easier because they support me and they always have my back no matter what I do. I'm very blessed and thankful to have parents that are on board with stuff that I love doing.
Tell us more about this new collaboration with Def Jam Asia. How did it come about and how do you feel about it?
I don't know how it came about. One day, my manager Flightsch just told us that we have a new deal in the works and that he will reveal it soon. We were so intrigued. It was kept under wraps from all the artists for a couple of months. It was sometime in October when they revealed to us that we're going to be joining Def Jam Southeast Asia. I didn't see it coming. We didn't know how to comprehend it at all. It all came together only at the press conference. I'm so happy to part of such a wonderful family.
Is there a full album on the way or is it going to be singles for the forseeable future?
We have a lot of songs. We have heat in the folder. It is possible that I'll release an EP, an album, or a project of such sorts in the near future. It is possible; I wouldn't deny it completely. Right now, our focus is on creating strong singles that play on the radios. That's the game plan as far as I know, but I wouldn't deny the possiblity of releasing a bunch of songs.
What's next for Yung Raja?
It's about elevating the game together with my team and the people that are with me. Together, we are working hard towards a common goal, which is to put Asian hip-hop on the world map in our own way. That's what we've been working on since day one with each song, project, and artist. The next step would be coming closer to that goal and seeing it come to life because Asian hip-hop is experiencing a very exciting time right now.
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