January 2024: I would want to be an album artist, that comes, drops an album and then takes a break: Raga

Ravi Mishra, popularly known as Raga, is a rapper from Delhi. Having been in the scene for over 12 years, he has developed a dedicated fan base, which swears by his name. Later half in 2023, Raga was signed by Def Jam India, making him foray into endless possibilities with the art and characterization of his work. 2024’s first Digital Cover Story is about Raga, his work, the year to come, his thoughts on spirituality, and much more. Read more to know about what he has to say.

It’s a new year and we would surely like to know what this new would look like for Raga the artist.

Two years ago, I started working in a format where I create songs in the current year for the next year to come. The projects that I have worked on in 2023, especially after October, are lined up to be released in 2024. My EP will drop in January, then there are a few singles lined up and then a few more projects maybe (details of which will be shared when we get closer to the release). I am going to bombard with a lot of work in 2024!

Will we see Raga experimenting with his sound and work in 2024?

Sonically, my listeners, always expect hard core Hip Hop from me and the EP that is releasing falls in line with the sonic expectations that my listeners have. Having said that, I have created newer sounds in 2023 with different vocal characters to my songs, so my listeners can expect something new from me this year.

Do you think there has been any tipping point in your career?

Honestly, I have seen hypes coming in at a few points in my career. In 2016 also, it was that whatever I dropped, it worked. 2023 had also given me a similar space. It has come to a point where I have stopped thinking about the hype, commercials, what works, etc. I am just in my space, working on what I can, to the best of my ability. In 2023, I tried to be more consistent with my work and appearances. Going ahead, I would want to be an album artist, where people will anticipate the drop of every solid body of work. 

Being over 12 years in the industry, how does the experience v/s newness work for you?

I have been in Hip Hop for almost 12 years now and a certain section, especially my followers, start tagging me as an OG. But whenever I make a track for myself, I find this kid inside me that balances me out. As long as I am loyal and vigilant about the process that existed back in 2008, I think experience and newness finds a raw balance in itself. I was a new kid on the block back in 2008 and I will remain new kid on the block till the time I work.

What has been the role of spirituality in your life?

Spirituality has an influence on me as a person. I call this body as a transmitter; it is transmitting in the environment. Spirituality does the cleansing of this transmitter in a sense. Spirituality helped me to focus on the present and filter the thoughts of past or the anxiety of future. This has helped me in my music; I work on a song, release it and then move on to the next. I write songs, then give myself a break, talk to people, listen to their stories, watch movies, and imbibe experiences. This has helped me in my work process too.

When did this spiritual bent of yours start?

It was 2020 when I realised the impact of being spiritual on a human soul. I had just got recovered from opioids after four years of dependency. Towards the end of 2019, a trauma of life shook me and took me out of the dependency phase. That’s when my recovery also started shaping up, still in the phase to be fair. One instance I clearly remember is when I was sitting with my friends from Artistan. One of us cracked a joke and I laughed hard at it. But I realised that I was actually faking that laugh for sake of it. This incident made me look up and search for this disconnect I had between my feelings and my actions. The search for spirituality started from this life moment and here I am, living my life, in the present and believing that spirituality is about existence and experience for me.

Talking more about spirituality, what is the impact of good and bad experiences on you?

I will be the most unhappy person if only good keeps happening. If after 3-4 good events, a bad event doesn’t follow, it will ruin the feeling of finding happiness. I stay out of my comfort zone proactively so that I can appreciate happy moments. Unless there are uncertainties in life, it will be a dull living!

What is your take on the current shaping up of industry and artists?

Awareness and education are more in the current times amongst the artists. Its natural then, that artists have more questions to ask, more careful reading of clauses and more self-worth. Back in the days, signing a label contract was, in itself, a gratification of ‘you made it’, gave you ‘Eminem’ moment of being signed. At the same time, its also about balance where artists as well as labels get their due for the work which is being put out. Its more about building a character and a core so that labels can also leverage on the followership and make it reach even wider.

Do you think Hip Hop is becoming a cluttered space?

There was a time when there were 5-6 rappers, and the industry was around those guys. But now the scene has been given a jolt and a push which has created turbulence. There is a clutter where possibly 60% of the work is not of great quality. But what it also means is that there are so many people brainstorming on what can be done in the Hip Hop genre and how can this be made bigger.

How can major labels play a role in this burgeoning Hip Hop scene?

There is a shift in culture happening and the more the labels can embrace it, the better it will be for everyone in the environment. I can possibly think of a time when a lot of sync into movies and web-series will be of Hip Hop. The labels which can foresee this, will be ahead of the curve in the future.

Well, the shift in culture is happening for sure and with artists like Raga at the forefront of it, Hip Hop will grow further. As we look forward to seeing what more is to come from Raga in the year, going by the past, it only promises to be exciting!

Article by Vishwa Deepak Dikshit

Photo Credit to Raga and his team

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