RAGA, a South London rapper who is ready for his moment.

What is your name?

My name is Raga, hailing from Peckham.

Where did you get the name Raga?

I am of Jamaican descent, the name Raga doesn’t really have a positive meaning, it refers to a man just always around on the roads, it is derived from the term ragamuffin. I got the name when my boys and I were writing a script for a book and we were working on characters. My friend came up with a Jamaican character with lightning powers and called him Raga. When I heard the name it resonated with me and somehow everyone started calling me Raga as I was always doing a Jamaican accent and people found it amusing so the name stuck with me. It just made sense.

Were you born and raised in Peckham?

Yes, well I was born in King’s College Hospital and for some time my mum stayed with my grandparents in Elephant (and Castle) for a period so I spent most of my early days in Elephant. Then I ended up coming back to Peckham when I was around 10 years old and I have stayed here since.

How did you get into making music?

From a young age, I’ve always loved music but I didn’t always know I wanted to actually pursue it. My mum always used to play a varied array of music; she could go from gospel to hip-hop and house. She would play anything, she played a lot of opera and often played Andrea Bocelli at home. I also listened to Beyonce and Drake. I listened to everyone and always had a deep love of music. When I got to college I had friends that would rap and spit bars. I would support them but to me I wasn’t trying to pursue it. However, one day I tried to write a song and I thought to myself, I think I can do this and I really like it so I kept trying and trying and I thought you know what I do actually want to pursue it. I wanted to make sure that I wanted it for myself and not because my friends were doing it or people I knew were finding success in it so when I found that for myself it led me to do it around 2018/19 and I kept pursuing it from then. 

What genre would you say your music is?

I’d say rap hip-hop, drill a bit of R&B and dancehall”

RAGA tells us about his music style.

It’s hard to say, I dabble in a fusion of different genres. I’d say rap hip-hop, drill a bit of R&B and dancehall. Before I was more so focused  on rap and drill vibes and dancehall was something that I just experimented with as I could do the Jamaican accent and make it sound authentic but my friends told me  to take it seriously. As an artist, I’ve struggled with not wanting to be put in a box and ensure that I’m taken seriously. Initially I thought if I did the Jamaican thing it may be taken as a gimmick thing so I wasn’t too sure about it. But a lot of the troubles I’ve been having now is because I’m so diverse and I like to experiment so no one would know where to place me. That’s kind of been tough but I’d say my main genres are hip-hop, drill and dancehall. At the moment with dancehall, I’m working on a fusion with hyper pop and I’ve made a few songs that sound good. I think people will enjoy them so they are coming in the near future.

What artists or things inspire your music?

I would definitely say I care about context and what is being said and you get that mostly from the earlier spitters like Jay-Z. I pride myself on making sure I’m always saying something and I’m not just writing anything. What I write has to be true to myself. When I was getting into music I was also  listening to a lot of Drake. I think he’s the pioneer for rappers that are trying to sing and have that versatility.  So my inspirations are Drake, Jay-Z  and, I’d say Kanye is among them in terms of just being fearless and forthcoming within your music.

What is your creative process, how do you go about writing songs?

It depends, sometimes bars will just form in my head but I’d say the most common way I make songs is I listen to the beat and I try to give the beat what I think it should have. Most times, I will come up with the hook first and get the feels for whatever I’m hearing and a melody that best suits it. From there, I have the topic for whatever the song is about so the verses are easy. I just make sure they follow suit and I play with flows and try to come up with interesting bars using different flows. Any subject matter you come up with is always already saturated as there are so many people that have talked about those matters so it’s really about how interestingly and creatively you can deliver it to the listeners.

If you had to pick one piece of art that you have made, what would you pick as your favourite and why?

That’s tough, I would probably say it may be an unreleased one but out of my released songs it is probably Good Evening from my “With love xo” EP.  I like how I was able to clearly convey the feelings of where I was at that time. That was one of those times that I had written something and I knew it was crazy. I was at a writing camp and everyone was just making songs together and I was spending my time upstairs writing music, I’m not even sure if I ate. Having that translated over into the studio and being able to execute it made me happy as music is more than just putting words on a beat. 

Are there any artists you’ve spent time with or worked with that have made an impression on you?

I would say the boys I am always with, I am part of a collective as well as being an individual artist and we go by the name of SQD WRLD so Liwa, Dré Rose and Powers. He (Powers) is not really pursuing music as an artist but he mentored me a lot on how to get my bars tighter and my timing right so my inspirations are just my peers around me.

Have you done many performances in the past?

I did a show this year in April with my collective and I have done a few in the past.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals to calm your nerves?

I don’t have any rituals, I just psych myself up. I already know when I’m going to do well because I would’ve put the time, work and practice in. A lot of the time that fear comes from when you haven’t put the time in to practice your bars or how you’re going to move around the stage. I feel most secure when I’ve taken that time to do that and I know I can own the stage. I probably will get a few  jitters beforehand but when it’s coming up to my time to go on I’m like yes let’s do this. I want to get this over and done with.

Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of music?

I draw, I’ve been doing that since I was young and I’ve always been interested in it. I also play basketball. I’m quite athletic, not as much as I was in school but that’s something I want to improve. I want to find a club to join and train and keep my body active as I love sports. 

Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like people to know about?

I’m working on something at the moment but I can’t say much about it. There is something coming sometime next year that I’m excited about so keep an eye out.

Written by Alya Adekola

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