RAJA KUMARI Interview- Indian rapper popstar, writing for Iggy Azalea, Gwen Stefani, Timbaland
“It was something that I really dreamt of–hearing Hindi on the American radio so when we were live in 81 countries it felt amazing. Wow India is played everywhere!”
Raja Kumari is a force of nature. She’s a fearless, charismatic personality and natural-born storyteller whose mission is to create art that blends her Indian roots with her American upbringing. Her music is a sonic bridge between East and West that fuses the rhythms she absorbed as a trained classical Indian dancer with her love for hip-hop. Kumari announces that this is the new face of America. “I want my fans to feel one hundred percent seen and to have a safe space to be themselves,” she says. “Because those were the only desires I had as a child.”
Born Svetha Rao in Claremont, Calif., to Indian parents who emigrated to the U.S. in the ’70s, Kumari was 13 when she found her calling. “I feel like I’m a seed from the motherland that was sent across the world,” she says. “Culture is part of my identity because we, as Indian-Americans who grew up away from India, have to be the vessels of culture. We have to hold on because it’ll be lost within one generation. That’s why it so heavily influences my music and look. It’s not a gimmick to me. It’s an expression of a lifetime of trying to preserve it.”
At 14, she adopted her stage name, which means “princess” in Sanskrit. “That’s when I personified this strong, female goddess character called ‘Raja Kumari,’ the daughter of the king, and the king was God. So in my mind, I was the daughter of God.”
Kumari also went on to co-write hit songs for Fall Out Boy (Centuries), Fifth Harmony, Lindsey Stirling, and Gwen Stefani.