Raja Kumari traces her bloodline through hip-hop | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Raja Kumari traces her bloodline through hip-hop


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Hip-hop has drawn from Bollywood and bhangra beats for years: Erik Sermon sampled Asha Bhosle back in 2002, and M.I.A. has spent much of her career finding different ways to make South Asian music and Western rap go together. In that context, Bloodline (Epic), the new EP by Indian-American songwriter and rapper Raja Kumari, sounds less like a merging of two disparate traditions than a natural extension of a conversation that’s already in progress. Her rasta-ranting rhyme of the words “Hanuman” and “Ramadan” on the track “Karma” closes the distance between Kingston and Mumbai, and the chanting that winds through “Shook” echoes sinuous Timbaland beats as Kumari challenges the listener: “Fucker test your luck,” she raps, “When's the last time you seen a Hindustani stunt?” The floating, transcendent Bollywood sample on “Robin Hood” contrasts with its materialist lyrics (“We need the money, money money on the dot”) in a dynamic that’s reminiscent of Truth Hurts’s 2002 single “Addictive” (though Truth Hurts didn't pay for her Lata Mangeshkar sample till she got sued). Kumari points to a more aboveboard global bash, in which East and West bang and grind and spit together, just like they were meant to do.   v

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