Raj Mahal on having nothing to lose, finding himself and his new EP ‘RAW DAWG’

Raj Mahal

We first encountered Raj Mahal on the incendiary Dro Carey single, ‘Atmosphere’. Holding his own alongside Kwame and Renz, the Sydney-via-Boston rapper immediately cut through with a formidable verse of his own and put everyone on notice that he was indeed one to watch.

Since then, his output has been prolific. Releasing countless singles and collaborations, two EPs and a steadily growing fan base across the world, Raj Mahal has quickly asserted himself as one of the most exciting rappers in the scene in just the space of a few short years. And, whatever reputation he had prior to 2020 he has well and truly eclipsed this year with the release of his most refined, ambitious and real body of work yet.

Titled RAW DAWGRaj Mahal‘s 2020 effort is in the form of an 11-track EP which depicts him not only mining his own life and experiences for material, but rediscovering and consequently reasserting himself as a bonafide force in real time. Borne from a place of creative discomfort, RAW DAWG is exactly that: raw, real and as matter-of-fact as you can get. Alongside the hard-as-it-gets ‘GLIMPSE’ and minimal ‘GET ME FROM’ comes highlights like the menacing ‘GUARANTEE’, trap-leaning ‘PASTRANAK’, the relentless ‘2DOECOO’, or the fire-starting ‘DUCHOVNY’.

Tapping fellow Sydney rapper Danté Knows for guest appearances on ‘GLIMPSE’ and ‘KAPPA’, and frequent collaborator Domba for production, Raj Mahal proves there is plenty left in the tank with RAW DAWG. Here, we get to know the rising hip hop star. Jump on board the Raj Mahal train before there’s no room left.

Who are you?

I am Raj Mahal, the worlds greatest.

How did Raj Mahal come to be?

Some of my friends from high school used to always call me Raj Mahal when we’d get drunk and or high and shit like that, so I decided to make that my rap name. I started rapping under the name FLASH when I was like 14-15 but as I grew older I thought that name was corny as shit so I had to make the necessary switch lol.

What are we talking, vibes-wise?

If you mean in terms of music, I guess whatever the universe decides to throw at me. I don’t like to bottle myself as a specific kind of artist, I just do what my heart tells me.

Tell us more about your new EP, ‘RAW DAWG’?

RAW DAWG is just a morning stretch in comparison to all the things I have planned out in the future. It was a way to put my face back on the scene after dealing with some personal issues and it was a reminder that I’m one of the best period.

You said this EP was a self care mechanism that helped get you out of a dark place this year. You said “It made me remember who I am and what I’m about to do.” What was it about creating this EP that pulled you out of this place, and was it a case of once you felt yourself hitting your stride, you got better and better as the creation process went on?

Just getting back to having fun with making music. Once you get all corporate with art it sucks the life out yourself and the idea of pursuing something you’d always dreamed of doing. It was a way to get my mind off of all the nonsense that was going on in my life at that time and it served its purpose. I always knew I was a dope artist I just needed to remind myself after not working on music for months prior to making this

You go all the way in on this EP, and you hold nothing back. Can you tell me about the moment you decided, “Fuck it, we’re going all the way here now”?

What is there to lose and who’s going to stop me? The world needs music like this.

You rap over a multitude of different beats. Do you think it was your “got nothing to lose” mentality that allowed you approach the production so fearlessly?

Nah, it was just me doing me and showcasing the versatility that I’ve always possessed.

Speaking of the production, your relationship with Domba seems to be stronger than ever with you both bouncing off each other seamlessly. How important is this relationship to you and your creativity?

Very important because we play a vital role in each other’s personal and business life. We balance each other out which makes the music that much easier to make when we’re together.

Further to that, Dante Knows appears on two tracks. You’ve always been a fierce and formidable collaborator from the early days back with Savour The Rations, Dro Carey’s Atmosphere and so many more. What did Dante Knows bring to these tracks for you personally?

He’s from New York and I’m from Boston, and we’re both half Jamaican. We grew up and we’re raised pretty much the same. So it was refreshing to have someone that’s from your own country and gets you from a cultural standpoint so it was inevitable that we were going to link and kill shit. More music from us in the future.

What can we expect from you in the months ahead?

It depends on how life goes, I’ll let you know when I get there.

Where can we hear more from you?

IG: @srirajmahal and you can find my music on all streaming platforms. Tell your friends about me.

RAW DAWG is out now. Buy/stream here.

Introduction by Emma Jones
Image by Jordan Munns

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About:

Just a Robyn stan who loves going to the club.