Who is Rajé Shwari?
Who is Rajé Shwari? Just ask Hip Hop’s royalty like Jay Z, Timbaland, Nas, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. She’s been featured on mainstream hits like Jay Z’s multi platinum album Blueprint 2’s "The Bounce", Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle Soundtrack’s "The Flyest" with Nas & Pharrell, and of course, Timbaland & Magoo’s instant runaway hit "Indian Flute", which remains the crowd favorite worldwide in many underground hip hop and desi clubs to this day, with clever lyrics written by the hitmaker Timbaland himself that he says were inspired by Rajé’s unique “sexy sound, feminine shape and exotic persona”. Since then, she has been credited as the early pioneer who, having been born and raised in the United States, emerged as the most perfectly groomed vocal ambassador to seamlessly bridge the sonic gap between the eastern and western music scene on a global scale. Coming up through the coveted ranks of the illustrious American hip hop music scene, Rajé managed to bring her Indian flavor to a string of hit releases for many of hip hop’s biggest stars, and by 2005, in less than a 2 year span, suddenly mainstream radio listeners found themselves hypnotized by her sultry Hindi refrains time and again, though she remained relatively unknown as a recording artist herself. And although many artists and producers, including Timbaland himself, continued their own efforts to pick up where she had left off, her sound was never quite replicated well enough to reach the same level of promising success Rajé experienced so early in her career.
In the years to follow, Rajé's cult fan base tracked her underground career as she continued to further appear as the featured artist with more of Hip Hop’s elite such as 50 Cent, Petey Pablo, Beenie Man & Missy Elliott before making the bold decision to venture out of what was then her third contract, and start her own production company. She refers to that period in her life as the time she had to take to experiment musically, get more innovative with her creativity, but most importantly, gain the confidence to build herself a “home” where she could develop a brand new musical style, sound and genre all her own, eventually aspiring to groom other artists in the future to come through the gateway in which she might be able to share the spotlight - this home becoming the birthplace of her vision, her sound, her passion that she would go on to brand and trademark as “Bollyhood”.
Brought up just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rajé’s first generation born upbringing provided her with a serendipitous blend of cross cultural experiences that created the intriguingly hybrid talent that she is today. Growing up in a traditional Indian household, immersed in a vibrant cultural atmosphere, as well as being deep rooted in her parents classical music practice at home, she embraced her Hindi & Gujarati tongue through Bollywood movies and Navratri Garba festivals, while managing to live the life of a typical American teenager. Coming of age during her school years while surveying the everchanging pop culture landscape, she began identifying her affinity for hip hop music in particular. She credits what she calls her “very strict and old fashioned” parents, who gave her the limited freedom of “buying records and going to rock concerts” as long as she got good grades, as the reason her initial love of music as just a loyal fan turned into her life’s true passion.
Her father took the reward system “trade off” of her successful academic efforts for furthering her musical pursuits to the next level when he started booking studio time whenever she came home with a favorable report card. Though music remained a side hobby, it was during her college years when Rajé got word of her first record deal offer overseas, and with her parents blessing, she dropped her studies to pursue her music professionally. As the daughter of immigrants pursuing a new life in the land of opportunity, Rajé began to understand that her own family’s support of her dream and her unconventional career choice in the music industry was truly a modern day version of the “American Dream” and likely to inspire millions of other young ethnic people born outside of their respective homelands, living the same experience here in the U.S, also trying to establish their own identities and find common ground between a traditional and modern world. It was then, she says, her “aha” moment came, suddenly realizing the greater mission at hand and her new found responsibility to represent her cultural background and to, subsequently, use the story of her life to inspire others to honor their own “roots” and cultural history.
Though UK acts such as Jay Sean and MIA have certainly seen some success on U.S. shores after Rajé’s arrival onto the hip hop scene early in this millennium, the fact remains as the first American born Indian recording artist to have broken through the unlikely ranks of hip hop radio, all eyes and ears have been on Rajé to crossover onto the mainstream scene as a solo artist for quite some time now. With the stage being set for her to bring full circle what is likely to become a musical revolution in the making, the confident Founder and CEO of BollyHood Records states her current mission at hand is to take what was her original formula to the next level and introduce the world to an even more undeniable commercial fusion in 2015 and beyond.
To her cult following, she is on a long awaited “come back” trail, yet to a larger global audience, she may appear to be fresh on the scene, more like on the "come up" one would say. Either way, with an impressive resume already under her belt, along with a brand new sound and company set to reach new heights under her vision and guidance, it seems the sky is the limit for Rajé Shwari, as her loyal fans eagerly await her return while her new followers discover what all the underground hype has been about all along with the release of her highly anticipated solo debut album entitled "I'm Famous in Bollyhood" set to come out as a digital download online in late October 2015.Awards & Notable Achievements:
2011: BollyHood Records established by Founder/CEO Rajé Shwari.
2013: NBA 2K13 Video Game Release: Rajé Shwari was a Featured Artist in the main online advertisement trailer, and also featured on the world renowned video game NBA 2K13 itself inclusive with Jay Z’s Executive Produced soundtrack which sold over 10 million copies.
2014: In February of 2014, The prestigious Smithsonian Institute launched a permanent exhibit in its Natural History Museum in Washington D.C. entitled “Beyond Bollywood” showcasing the contributions of prominent South Asians. Rajé Shwari was given the distinct honor of being inducted in the category of Hip Hop Music. The exhibit sought out U.S. born South Asian Americans who have impacted United States History in some major way, covering all categories from music to science to film to agriculture and beyond. The exhibit currently displayed in Washington D.C. is set to tour the country for 2 years beginning in 2016 before returning back to its permanent stay in the world renowned museum with hopes of expansion as the cultural impact of South Asians on the nation grows.
2015: Rajé Shwari named to the prominent South Asian Media Outlet brand’s The ANOKHI 2015 LIST of Today’s Most Prolific South Asians in the company of Mindy Kaling, Priyanka Chopra, Frieda Pinto & Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well as many other relevant South Asians globally who have made an outstanding impact in social, economic or pop culture.Notable Quote from Timbaland:
When asked “What do you think makes Rajé so unique?”
“As a producer, I look for an artist who knows who they are, what they want. My job is just to bring the best out of them. With Rajé there just wasn’t any question. Not only was she the walking and singing version of all that stuff she preaches, that thing she calls Bollyhood, but she also knew exactly where she wanted to go with it. A lot of artists out here want fame and fortune, but they don’t understand you gotta have a vision and then you gotta do the work to execute the vision. Rajé had a clear vision from the first day I met her, she was trying to deliver her people and show the world how dope her culture was, which I already knew a little something about. To me, Rajé isn’t just unique, she’s the original, she sets the trend, and I believe she’s an artist that will be imitated for years to come.” Timothy Mosley aka “Timbaland”, Super Producer of Hip Hop & Mainstream Music for over 20 years.Forthcoming in 2015:
Pending Release Date October 20th, 2015. Rajé Shwari’s Long Awaited Solo Debut Album Release entitled “I’m Famous in BollyHood” available digitally online through BollyHood Records and iTunes plus all social media outlets along with Urban mainstream promotional outlets World Star Hip Hop, DatPiff, etc.Website and Social Media: