From the core of this underground oasis comes Raja and his easy-listening style. Part rap and part hypnosis he calls his sound, "Lavish". Raja, the Sacramento, California-based rapper releases new album The Lavish Collection, on Liquid Records. The aptly titled CD sees him introduce his fusion of grooves and rap, and promises a dreamy, mesmerizing listening experience.
He is determined to show that Northern California rap is more than just hyphy juice and stunna shades. "The Hyphy movement is a beautiful look for NorCal, but we also have a chilled-out side. That is the side I choose to show with my music", Raja casually states.
Raja's music is an eclectic mix of many styles. Incorporating soul, r&b, hip-hop and pop, his sound is an explosive mixture. He cites a variety of influences, from classic soul like Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, classic rock like AC/DC and The Eagles to modern rappers like Jay-Z. The Lavish Collection is rich with moods, rhythms and melodies as a consequence.
"If you take the laidback, California drawl of Snoop Dogg, mix it with the independent spirit of E-40, and add a sprinkling of London, England moodiness you have my code figured out". Raja explains.
"I see myself as a hybrid artist. I tend to mix rap, r&b, electronica and soul elements to create something cool and smooth. Think of Sade mixed with Dr Dre. I am not hardcore but my music definitely has an edge to it".
The Lavish Collection also showcases Raja's poetic way with words and his unique delivery: "What separates me is my lack of profanity, my distinctive vocal style and the way I put my words together".
Born in Slough, near London, Raja was always surrounded by music when he was growing up. Though he had a difficult childhood – he never knew his Pakistani father, and had a strained relationship with his Jamaican mother – he became deeply enamoured with the music that filled his family home: "everything from Marvin Gaye to Kiss to Donna Summer to Michael Jackson to Led Zepplin to Diana Ross to The Rolling Stones". Such range has had a huge influence on the experimental nature of the music he makes today.
Raja states, "The Lavish Collection is sort of a tribute to the pioneers of laidback, mellow hip hop like A Tribe Called Quest, Gangstarr, and Digable Planets".
Before long a friend introduced him to a studio, and he was hooked: "I fell in love with the chaos and spontaneous energy that permeates throughout the making of a song".
Raja's music has been warmly received in the press, with UBO magazine saying of Serious, one of the The Lavish Collection's standout tracks "it brings slow rap and sexy backbeats together, developing a really hot sound".
The Lavish Collection is available for purchase at cdbaby.com