Raja Kumari Takes Control with ‘HBIC’ EP and Shares Screen Space with Madhuri Dixit Nene for ‘Made In India’ Video
The Indo-American hip-hop star calls in KR$NA and Shah Rule and interpolates Alisha Chinai’s 1995 hit song ‘Made In India’
In the run-up to announcing her new single “Made In India” and her upcoming EP HBIC, Raja Kumari repeated a line we’ve often heard from artists before. She said on Instagram in April, “This is the first release from my independent label and I could really use your support.”
The modesty and humility is a contrast of sorts to everything that the Indo-American singer, songwriter and rapper Svetha Rao (Kumari’s real name) has built so far – all the braggadocio and life lessons she’s imparted on releases that have been streamed in the millions. But then again, it could be perceived as just someone fully in control, given that HBIC is short for “Head Bitch In Charge.”
The five-track EP was previewed with the single and music video for “Made In India,” directed by Kumari and Kirti Narain and featuring actor Madhuri Dixit Nene. A few years ago, Kumari was amazed at meeting the actor-dancer, with the latter even showing up for a show. The association has clearly blossomed into this music-video collaboration, topped by Kumari’s interpolation of Alisha Chinai’s 1995 Indi-Pop hit of the same name. Produced by Nacho Larraza and Karan Pandav, “Made In India” builds on the rousing, pride-bearing themes of the original, contemporized by Kumari’s pop vocals and resolute rap.
Elsewhere on HBIC, she brushes off haters on the title track, while the bass-driven “On” brings in rapper KR$NA for a deadly collaboration. For the closing track “The Don,” Kumari calls on rapper Shah Rule once again, following their team-up on “Kaun Hai Tu” in 2019. Skittering trap beats make “The Don” a club-friendly bop about Kumari’s confidence in herself.
HBIC is out via Kumari’s own label, Godmother Records, which is also a first for an artist who’s worked with majors like Sony Music (Epic Records released her 2016 EP The Come Up and her follow-up EP Bloodline in 2019) and Universal Music India (Mass Appeal India released singles like “N.R.I.,” “Firestarter” and “Get It In” in the last two years).
The artist posted a statement on Instagram about the release, which says, “[HBIC] is a collection of disruptive, aggressive rap records in a sea of male ego. Her most mainstream single, ‘Made in India,’ sets the tone but the rest of the EP showcases Kumari flexing her lyrical prowess. ‘Manifest’ is a truthful song that follows Kumari’s entire journey, from being signed to major record labels for seven years to finally going independent and starting her own label Godmother Records. Co-written with Elvis Brown, ‘HBIC,’ the title track of the EP, is an anthem for the independent woman, fearless and confident.”
Listen to ‘HBIC’ EP below..