Songwriter Raja Kumari Is Bridging East and West in Indian Ethnic Dance Forms and Hip Hopby OPINIONEXPRESS.IN June 29, 2018 0 comments
Team Viva says, the California-based songwriter and rapper Raja Kumari, with roots in Andhra Pradesh believes that she is the link between East and West.
She straddles the East-West divide with an ease that comes together in the combination of Indian classical dance with Western rap. And this amalgam is visible in the US born singer Raja Kumari new song I Did It which hit YouTube last week and instantly went viral. Dedicating it to her fans, she tells us, “I created this song for my fans who wanted to dance with me. I’m a dancer first, so it was exciting to create a true fusion of sounds. I always wanted to set classical dance within hip hop beats. I feel like we achieved this.” If you have missed it, then you certainly haven’t missed the Allah Duhai Hai number in Race 3.
She performs a mix of Indian ethnic dance forms and hip hop. Sung in English, she can be seen performing kathak, while the Indian taals (beats) can be heard in the background.
The songwriter and rapper is best known for her collaboration with artists including Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony, Knife Party and Fall Out Boy while her solo songs on YouTube are unique. “Music has always been a huge part of my life. I wanted to find a way to have fun every day and music was always that escape for me”, Raja Kumari says. The West Coast hip hop and rap influence was common ground for her. She became a household name in India, especially after the song City Slums (featuring Divine) which has successfully amassed 7.6 million views on YouTube. “I’ve had some incredible experiences in life. I can never forget the feeling of performing City Slums for the first time at NH-7. It was the first time I stepped on stage in India and experiencing the love of the people was an incredible feeling,” she adds.
What makes her songs stand out is the ways she blends genres. Mixing the music traditions of two different countries also helps in bridging the gap between them. She says, “I believe I am the bridge. I want to open the door for cultural exchange and want to see an Indian person impacting pop culture worldwide.” She is very passionate about music and was nominated for a Grammy award in 2015.
Though she grew up in America, the Indian in her was always alive and kicking thanks to her parents. She emphasises, “I credit my parents for raising me with a deep respect and love for my culture. They always made me proud to be Indian and made sure I knew my roots.” Unlike some NRIs who force their children to be doctors and engineers, Raja Kumari’s parents were supportive of her and satisfied with whatever made her happy. Her academic choice was pioneering too. She studied ancient religious studies and took comparative religious studies in college. She has a degree in ancient Indian history and studied Sanskrit besides three classical dance styles. “I did my arangetrams in different styles. I’ve dedicated my life to study Indian culture,” she adds.
Despite supportive parents, she did face some obstacles at at other fronts. Surmounting them, she says, “It is always difficult to blaze your own trail. Being a woman in a male-dominated arena is a challenge but I welcome it.”
I Did It has already won millions of hearts and has gained over 300K YouTube views and because of its uniqueness the figures will continue to rise. Talking about her future plans, she says, “I don’t limit myself. I want to lend my voice to whatever makes to my brand. Right now, I’m in Los Angeles working on my new EP. I love Bollywood and would love to get more involved.”
Courtesy: The Pioneer