“Rani, rani, don’t forget that you’re a Queen”.
That, in a nutshell, is the message of hope that Rani Cypher, Raja Kumari’s latest track, delivers in its neon-coloured glory. Its message of hope is as catchy as its beat, its choreography establishes four rappers — SIRI, Meba Ofilia and Dee MC besides Raja Kumari — as queens who lift each other up.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, Raja Kumari opened up on the song, which is her collaboration with Absolut. “It has been on my mind for a while to have an all-female song. And I think with Rani Cypher, we were able to accomplish it because of the creative control and freedom I was given with this project. I was able to get Meba, Siri and Dee on board, the artists that I respect and to whom I have been listening. So, I am truly grateful for that.”
When quizzed who she thinks is the queen in her life, Raja Kumari called her mother her ‘ultimate rani’. “I do not know how she does everything at once yet remains so beautiful, kind, and also stern. So, my mom is the benevolent queen that I wish to be,” she said.
“Rani Cypher,” as the song title reads, features Raja Kumari talking about how the hustle for women is tougher, given their gender. Elaborating on the same, the rapper said, “That is sample of me speaking on the first episode of MTV Hustle. I spoke about how I feel women have to work harder and do more. I sometimes joke that my male counterparts just splash water on their faces and walk on stage with their hats turned backwards but women are expected to perform on another level, to be on another level. However, I admit that it’s a lot of fun to be a woman in a man’s world. So, I wouldn’t change it in any way.”
She added that she advices and encourage women “to make sure that they really rely on their craft and hone it because if you are talented and you put in the hard work, there is nothing that anyone can do to take it away from you.”
The song also talks about crushing ‘male ego’. “Women will always have to battle and navigate the world of male egos. We do come from a greatly patriarchal society, but I do think things are changing,” she voiced.
On the work front, Raja Kumari often works in India and abroad. Talking about the difference in the national and the international space, Raja Kumari expressed that there is a need to create infrastructure for budding musicians in India.
“I think that the United States has an infrastructure for songwriters and musicians. I live in Los Angeles. So, before I was ever a signed songwriter in 2012, I was still able to go to different songwriting sessions and learn from my peers. I think that culture is missing in India. That is something that I would love to bring here, the camp culture, like writing camps and songwriting forums and things like that. I believe, growing up in the United States and in Los Angeles, I was in the mecca of pop music, so I was able to work with Timberland and be in the room with Dr. Dre and learn from all these major labels, global artists,” Raja Kumari replied.
Raja said her aim is to introduce a platform where deserving and talented artists get a chance to share their art and their story. “I am really invested in seeing more females get more opportunities, like I was able to have, and I hope to be able to create those in India,” she added.
Does she think rap culture gives equal chances to men and women? “No, there is not. I do not think there’s equality for women and men anywhere in the world.”
“When a woman can feel safe walking home alone at night, then we really have equality. When women can decide what happens with their body, then we really have equality. And when a woman is paid the same for the same work, then maybe we would have equality,” she answered, adding, “In the rap culture, I think that there are not as many females as possible. However, I hope ‘Rani Cypher’ inspires more of them to come out with their music. There are platforms that are available. I am looking for more female artists constantly. I am here and I want to nourish the scene and find real talent, and make sure that females really do get to continue to speak their voices, speak aloud.”