Indian American Rapper Raja Kumari’s Latest Album To Be Launched By Godmother Records

Singer and Song Writer, Rapper Raja Kumari on the cover of her album ‘The Bridge’. Photo: courtesy Tree-Shul Media Solutions

Raja Kumari’s latest album ‘The Bridge’ will release on 28th April under her own label Godmother Records. Raja Kumari is a noted Indian American rapper from Claremont, Ca, a woman rapper who has been nominated for the Grammys, and is famous for writing songs and giving vocals to Fall Out Boy, Gwen Stefani and Lindsey Stirling.

Born Svetha Yallapragada Rao, to immigrant Telugu parents, like other second generation of Indian immigrant parents, Kumari also struggled during her early years to fit in. The dichotomous life of an Indian American born here has been much written about. Kumari also seems to have gone through it, by building a solid foundation of her Indianness with training in Indian classical dance forms Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi and Oddissi, and letting cultural characters be part of her growing up years.

But her journey in the world of music was not easy. In a 2021 interview with Neha Kirpal, Kumari said she was always advised to tone down her ethnicity, that she was ‘too Indian’ to be successful in the U.S. Things have changed over the years however, and Kumari calls this change the ‘brown renaissance’.

Affirmations of Indianness is a pretty recent phenomena and thus, what began as a struggle to break into a male dominated industry of rap, has turned into riding high on a rising wave of fame  for Kumari. Kumari seems to have made the transition from hardcore classical to modern-day rap quite easily and naturally, as she has confessed in some of her interviews. Rap, she has said, is the expression of her Indian American personality and existence, while drawing on the foundations of her Indianness. Success came slowly, with her first music project ‘Change Your Life’ in 2013 and her first solo as a rapper, ‘Mute’, in 2016.

Rap music is a variation of popular music, developed by disc jockeys and urban Black performers in the late 1970s. A salient feature of this style of music is an insistent, recurring beat in the background with a rapid vocal, slangy, and quite boastful rhyming. Rapping is known to incorporate rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular.

Kumari has not looked back after her first show. Recognition followed in the form of a Grammy nomination in 2015 for her album ‘The New Classic’. She has gone on to win the BMI Pop Awards in 2016 for co-writing the song ‘Centuries’ with Fall Out Boy. Her classical dance training has also won her the Kohinoor Award for excellence in Classical Arts by the Tamil Nadu Government. Kumari stays in touch with the cultural roots through Claremont based Indic Foundation ( for which she is also a benefactor. Kumari has given her voice in  Bollywood films including ‘Paglait’. In 2021, Kumari launched her own label ‘Godmother Records’.

Kumari tours the world with her music. Notable among her tours is her 2019 performance at the Noise Pop Music Festival. A Mumbai and New Delhi show with John Legend and the Wireless Festival Middle East with Travis Scott are also among her recent shows. With success also came philanthropy for Kumari, who raised $80,000 in one night for charities in India.

Kumari’s music, like herself, is a mix of Indian and American traditions, revealing her spiritual base and depicting her own struggles for recognition in the world of music, both of which are now among her achievements. “Culture forward, culture first. Always,” Kumari has said in one of her interviews. Mike DeWald, in a Noise Pop review, wrote about the uniqueness of Kumari’s music. “She’s part Ariana Grande, a little bit Kendrick Lamar, with a healthy dose of The Fugees. Kumari proved it was was the perfect mixture under the Indian cultural umbrella,” DeWald wrote.

‘The Bridge’ is Kumari’s debut album with Godmother Records which she launched in 2021. True to its name, the album with nine new tracks will pose as a bridge between the East which is Kumari’s cultural heritage, and the West, which forms an important part of her developed personality. Kumari wrote the songs of this new album during the lockdowns in Los Angeles and Big Bear, and also in Mumbai and Goa. Produced by Larraza, Pandav and iLL Wayno, the album also features Kumari’s co-writers Harm Franklin, Douglas Garrette, Humberto de los Rios, Nacho Larraza, and Karan Pandav.

Kumari’s wish to belong is expressed on the album cover, “May The Bridge serve as a monument to my love for India, my motherland, and this little girl’s dream to belong. And, may it inspire each listener to find the same within themselves.”

Kumari lives in Los Angeles with her husband, fellow musician Karsh Kale, and their child. In spite of being active on social media, Kumari has said that she enjoys being surrounded by friends and family and being at peace with herself.



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