SimplyBhangra.com’s Govinda Lakha recently caught up with Raxstar to bring you an exclusive interview with him.
With an ever-growing fanbase, the talented UK rapper is currently taking the Asian music scene by storm with his single Jaaneman. In the past year, Raxstar has gone from strength to strength.
His previous single, Name on the Poster, earned him a place on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks Music Show. Next, he released an acclaimed EP, About a Girl. Jaaneman followed, and is now garnering a host of distinctions. It’s this month’s 24th most-viewed video on YouTube’s Musicians list and has entered the top 10 in other YouTube statistics, including Most Discussed and Top Rated.
Raxstar, how would you describe this point of your career?
It feels like right now the hard work I’ve been putting in is starting to pay off. I know I still have a lot to prove, so I am not taking anything for granted.
Jaaneman has gone viral on Facebook. What inspired the song? And, from the feedback you’ve received, what seems to be the main reason that people are embracing it so much?
The song was inspired by a real-life situation I was going though. I’ve always maintained that when you make good music, it will reach the people regardless of the people you know and how much money you have to splash on promotion.
At the end of the day, when the music is good enough, people will spread the word for you and that’s what has happened with Jaaneman. The songs I love the most are always ones I can relate to, so I think its success is down to people being in similar situations. (Watch Video Below)
[hdplay videoid=327 height=400 width=650 playlist=false autoplay=false]
You’re recognised as a very personal and raw rapper. About a Girl is an especially accomplished work. It recounts a relationship and breakup – revisiting desire, heartache, anguish and doubt, and you even manage to give it a relatively happy ending! What was it like to make that EP, creatively and personally?
The process was very much insular. The concept, song choices, skits, track order, etc. were all something that came from myself, and I was lucky enough to have RKZ sing on Cooler Than Me and S Sid Ahmed to create the amazing artwork.
I did everything else, from recording the vocals to mixing and mastering. It was and is something very personal, but my music always is. It was daunting to know that people would be hearing about what I had been through, but from the responses I’ve received, I can say that I am very proud of that piece of work.
You’re a proponent of free downloads. Readers can treat themselves to the About a Girl, Lost Ones and Spring Cleaning EPs/Mixtapes at no cost. Do you think it’s myopic of artists not to embrace free downloads?
I think an artist has to earn the listeners’ trust and also their money. Being able to download songs for free allows listeners to evaluate an artist. It also rewards those who have been supporting you too. Truly and honestly, I love making music.
Ever since I started – over 10 years ago – I’ve been giving people free music since then and I will continue to do so. Certain artists are ONLY in it for the money, and you can tell by their work rate and releases.
As on the About a Girl EP, you seem to be seeking catharsis in much of your music. On In Perspective, you rap, “I can’t take it; songs about what they do in clubs and how your crew are thugs and how many girls you’ve f-----.” Do you feel there’s a growing disparity between mainstream and underground Rap, in terms of quality and substance?
There used to be more of a noticeable difference between underground and mainstream, but the gap will always be there though. When people go out, they want music they can dance to, not something that makes them think.
I really do understand the need for mindless music – it is like junk food; quick and easy to consume. Personally I’d rather create something that has longevity.
On songs like Hustle Everyday, you touch on social ills such as ignorance, gang culture and gun crime. Rap seems like a catharsis and an escape for you, as well as an important didactic tool?
Music is very powerful. We all have different elements to our character; sometimes I think about certain issues and they will inspire me to write. Sometimes I’m going through a certain situation and feel the need to write.
Sometimes I just want to have fun with a beat. There is a whole body of work I’ve put out for people and it really is up to them to decide what my music is. I just see it as a reflection of myself.
It’s always impressive how finely crafted your material is. Clearly, you take great care with the likes of structure and multisyllabic rhymes. Who are your biggest Rap influences, especially on your artistry?
Thank you for noticing – I think it goes over some peoples’ heads! Content-wise, artists like Nas, Common, Talib Kweli, I have been extremely influenced by. When I started, I studied Busta Rhymes’ flow particularly, as well as Big Pun and Masta Ace.
Who are you a fan of on the Rap scene at the moment?
I think J. Cole is dropping great material consistently. I’m looking forward to his album.
Some readers may not know that you’re also a big fan of Gurdas Maan and Satinder Sartaj. You contributed some rapid-fire verses to Juggy D’s 2004 album. Do you have any plans for another similar collaboration with a Punjabi singer? Or perhaps even a slightly tongue-in-cheek Rap boliyan?
I have so much respect for artists like Gurdas Maan and Satinder Sartaj. Their music is so inspiring – not just as a musician, but as a human being, you really feel it at a deeper level. I don’t have plans to rap with any Punjabi singer at the moment, but know that when I do, it will be something meaningful.
Tell us about your forthcoming album, Faith and Patience. What can the fans expect?
Faith and Patience I would say is 20% done. I have a lot to do still, but I am focused and know I will get it done this year. Sunit is producing the entire album. I hope that it will exceed peoples’ expectations. I am putting myself out of my comfort zone in a few songs, and there will be a lot of personal stories on there too.
What are your closing words for the SimplyBhangra.com readers?
Just thank you. I really can’t say thank you enough; I am truly grateful for everything I have and will achieve. Please keep spreading the word about my music, and if you want to get in touch, come find me on Twitter - www.twitter.com/raxstar / LIKE OFFICIAL PAGE: