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Interview: Delhi’s Fierce Emcee Raga on ‘Midtown Madness’ EP With Def Jam Recordings India, Forthcoming Debut Album, Relationship With Ikka, DG Immortals, Bandzo3rd & More

On February 8th, Delhi’s rising emcee and songwriter Raga released perhaps one of the most crucial rap records of his breakthrough career. Titled “Midtown Madness”, the marquee rapper held a massive concert in Delhi-NCR to further support the star-studded EP upon its release.

Soon after his launch concert, Raga spoke to us about his latest endeavour and discussed the making of his first Hip-Hop project in nearly 5 years.

Amidst the exclusive conversation, Raga delves into his thriving relationship with legendary Indian emcee Ikka, breakthrough rappers DG Immortals & Bandzo3rd and announces his debut rap album.

The rapper further answers crucial questions about his partnership with Def Jam Recordings India, Killer Mike’s historic win at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards and more.

Read our breakthrough conversation with Raga below.

Three major singles with Def Jam. Now your first project in 5 years. How do you feel? 

I’m very grateful… there’s nothing I can say apart from being grateful about this. I’m just… I’m still that kid who wanted to rap. 

You just shut down Delhi. We spoke on ‘50 Years of Hip-Hop’ (Concert) as well…

I’m still that kid. I’m… the vibe isn’t growing on me, I’m growing on the vibe. Most probably… if that makes sense.

You’ve been releasing back-to-back singles like lightning. There’s a debut collaboration with Panther, we’ve major label singles with Def Jam. What took you so long to release a project as massive as ‘Midtown Madness’? It was your first in 5 years after all. 

When I say a project, right… it means that I do it as a project. So, the last project that I released, the first debut project was more of a compilation of my music because I wasn’t feeling right. I was in a bad phase of my life. This time, I wanted to make sure that I was making a project. So, I took 5 good years to introduce this EP. I’ll take one more year for the album. 

An album is in the works?


It can drop next year?

Yes, yes. Around my birthday, most probably. 

You also have Ikka on your EP. One of your key inspirations you just said that on the stage. It’s not easy to get a record with Ikka. You’ve two! You’re featured on his album & now he’s on your EP. How does that feel?

I don’t know how it happened. I’ve myself heard in the industry that it’s hard to get a feature from Ikka because with every feature he gets on, he either kills it or no one gets a feature at all. When my brother Ikka asked (for my feature), my dream was realised right then… when I was on his album.

I just sent him this track and he said, “Brother, I want to work on this”. Before that, his manager did tell me that it might be hard to get his feature because he has his album coming out and I was okay with it. I never had hard feelings because he is my brother and always will be. 

However, just the next hour he called me saying that if I wanted his feature, I should’ve reached out to him instead… and it happened, brother. He’s the sweetest and humblest and the best inspiration I’ve had in the scene, Bawe

… And he’s very proud of you. That must feel so emotional. 

Feels like how my mom and dad are proud of me. Or my elder brother and sister. Ikka holds the same place. 

Ever since ‘Kheench Maari dropped, a lot of things changed. It just stormed the internet. Did that influence your decision to have another track ‘Speed 206 with DG Immortals?

No. I’ve been preparing this project for one year. I released Kheench Maari just to make the bridge that I’m going to drop all of these tracks on. People are comparing ‘Kheench Maari‘ with all three records but I’m saying one thing, these tracks will grow on you in one or two weeks. Then, you won’t be able to get rid of them at all. 

How did you convince DG to be so aggressive on this record? 

I don’t convince him at all. He’s a God’s Child… he does whatever he gets a notion of. He lets the beat play, listens to it numerous times and just does his thing. I never stop him. Even though he said that he wanted to change his verse on Speed 206, I just refused and told him, “What you’ve got on the track is exactly what I want.” 

You must be missing Bandzo3rd here.

Ofcourse, bawe

How did that collaboration come about? No one saw that coming. 

Bandzo & I share a great relationship. We’re really good friends and share a strong bond. Of course, we wanted to work together. I just told Bandzo that I have an EP coming up and one artist got out of this track (Sir Kholkar). There was one artist I was featuring but I won’t speak much on that. So, I sent Bandzo the track and asked him how he felt about the record. He went like, “Brother, you’ve f— s— up, of course, I gotta get on this track” and he did that! 

I don’t feel like he’s from Karachi and is now based in the U.S. It almost feels like he’s from my streets. People from Jamnapar listen to Bandzo as much as they listen to my music. There could be different stats but I’m telling you… people listen to Bandzo as much as they listen to Raga. 

Music has no barriers, after all.

No barriers, at all. 

It’s also been two years since you’ve been working with Def Jam. How has the relationship evolved with that label? 

Lovely. I would’ve never imagined that I would foster such a good relationship with a record label because I have a history of being exploited by labels. However, this one got me staring at the good side of the music business. They’re family. They wanna do business, I’m the one who’s bringing them business and we’re doing it together. 

500k or dinner with Jay-Z?

Dinner with Jay-Z. 

How do you feel about Killer Mike winning the Best Rap Album at the Grammys? 

I was shocked. I loved it… I loved how it happened. Such an incident has never occurred at the Grammys. You know, my inner child who was digging for these records… the best of them by Rakim, Killer Mike and Run-DMC… it’s surreal. If someone wins a Grammy at 40 years of age, almost 50 if I’m not wrong… it sets a goal for me too. 

Any message for thousands of fans who’ll be watching this? 

I’m here to disrupt everything. I’m not here to stop. It was never a plan even when I took a brief hiatus. Now, there’s no option to stop. 

Watch our exclusive interview with India’s rising emcee Raga via YouTube below.

Stream ‘Midtown Madness’ EP by Raga via Spotify.