Seamlessly nodding to his Tamil roots through his “Tanglish” brand of Hip Hop, Yung Raja is no new arrival but a firm fixture in the South East Asian Hip Hop industry. This Singaporean Tamil Emcee has been churning out tracks since 2018 that blend hip-hop beats with borderline addictive and skillfully placed Tamil bars that will surprise you in the best possible way.
With Thanjavur roots, this born-and-raised Singaporean started out as a child actor in South East Asian dramas and films and rose to fame when he was featured in the Malaysian hip-hop web series, 16 Baris. He then dropped singles like Mustafa, Mad Blessings, The Dance Song and more putting his stamp on the genre. “Thambi raja vandhitan” and was clearly here to stay! His versatile influences from Ilayaraja, who inspired the Raja in his name, A.R. Rahman to Drake make sense as we hear him weave Tamil and Pop culture into a thrilling sound that continues to feel fresh and sexy.
Tamil Hip Hop and Rap are not new to Tamilians or the Kollywood industry as we’ve obsessed over timeless hits like Pettai Rap and artists like Yogi B & Natchathra who put their grip on pop music in the past few decades. Yung Raja is now picking up the mantle by putting his spin on the genre, skillfully switching between English and Tamil lyric with flair and his most notable style.
We’ve seen the rise of global Latine stars like Bad Bunny and Rosalia and just this past year we’ve seen South Asian musicians get visibility with Nick Jonas’ collaboration with Indian Rapper King and the 2023’s Tollywood Oscar win, to name a few, the global music industry seems ready to embrace music and art that honours the global majority, diverse cultures and languages, and Yung Raja feels like one such artist who is primed to erase borders and break barriers. Signed to Def Jams South East Asia the potential feels endless with millions of listens, features on Jimmy Fallon, NME’s 100 artists to watch, Yo Raps MTV, Vogue and so much more, his unique bilingual style is the perfect vehicle to international notoriety. As he says in Mustafa, “I’m for all races it don’t matter where you from” and we hear that in his exciting repertoire. He is representative of not just the global South Asian but is unapologetically Tamil which is long overdue on the world stage. So “Entha Gang” are you?