Hip-hop Royalty: Meet Grammy Award-nominated Indian-American Rapper Raja Kumari
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Blenders Pride Reserve Collection presented Entrepreneur India’s 35Under35 2020 list which included some leading names from the field of entrepreneurship and Rajakumari (Svetha Yellapragada Rao) made it to the coveted list.
The daughter of the King of Kings as her avatar name goes, Indian-American rapper Raja Kumari (Shvetha Rao) is a hip-hop royalty who has been shaking the music industry both west and east.
Raja is an avatar, not a character, it's how the talented singer, songwriter, and dancer channelises the Devi (goddess) within her. "I realized it this year, that it happens to me. Because since I was a little girl, when I did classical dance, the first piece I ever learned was Mahishasura Mardini. So I was Devi as a Demon Slayer and I flicked that influences everything," she recalls.
The Eternal Transformation
So right before she gets on the stage, she glosses over and nothing matters to Rajakumari. But when the expression and crown come off, Shvetha worries about everything. "Svetha is just trying to make her parents happy, that's probably the only thing that matters. And when I'm in my full Rajakumari mode, there's nothing that matters more than delivering the message as its intended, like whatever is supposed to happen is what has to happen and there's nothing that stands in the way," she said as her eye twinkles.
Today the world is shook by her performance and nothing is stopping her from curating music that creates a balance between her Indian roots and American upbringing. However, there was a time when 14-year-old Roa wanted to be a doctor and had a full-proof plan for it until she realised music was her ultimate calling. "Hey, I want to be a musician on the rapper." And her parents were like, what is this 'rap crap?'
"It took a lot for them to understand. But I think my father, luckily, decided that if he was gonna raise us in America, we were going to be American but not all the way. I didn't have to have a boyfriend, couldn't wear low cut things or short skirts but the one American thing he let me do was to follow my passion and like, go for it in a real way. And, you know, he didn't he was not always happy about it. But I think he decided that if I was going to do it, that I should be the best at it."
Music is a form of art that is supposed to contribute to society and Raja is a natural storyteller. The track that she creates makes you feel strong and powerful. She brings stories that every soul can relate to.
"I like to talk about things that are universal to all of us. A lot of my songs talk about karma it is a very universal law whether you're Christian, Hindu, Muslim or anything. It is a law that you must do good to others, you know, you must, it's reciprocal," she explains.
The Core of her Belief
She is a firm believer in how one needs to talk for more people to like, react to the music. "My music always has to have some kind of philosophy in it. I think, like when I put on that character, it's thunder, she slays demons. So this music is supposed to make people feel strong. It makes me feel strong. When I'm having really tough days. I listen to music that I create, and I'm like, Oh, yeah, I don't get to cry today because I have to get up and be that crazy person," she opined.
Raja is a brand today and she understands how essential it is to create a business infrastructure. "I learned as an entrepreneur everything has to have its place. Everything needs to move forward. And if you're not making money, it doesn't make any sense. In my business, I try to create an infrastructure. I invest in people that have a lot of potential, whether it's young people working on my website or people styling me or people doing the design work or helping me with T-shirts. There are so many levels of running," she said.
She understands that she just doesn't want to be a singer and often tellsl people we have to be a brand. "You have to understand that music is just one part of what you're giving people. You have to give them opportunities to buy into your culture, which is what you're creating when you have merchandise and lending your brand to different products like, collaborations I've done with like Live Tinted, which is like Deepica Mutyala. You have to keep your brand in the right circle. I have also learned that in my business you have to obviously invest in yourself. You are the only person that will invest in yourself more than anyone else," she puts out.
(This article was first published in the February issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)