Add these Desi R&B artists to your playlist

Meera Hatangadi, General Life&Arts Reporter

As Desi artists make waves in Western music spheres, Desi R&B — a South Asian subgenre of R&B — continues to garner attention from large audiences, Desi and non-Desi alike. For individuals looking to find the representation of more diverse artists or explore more genres, The Daily Texan compiled a list of Desi R&B artists to add to your playlist.


Singer-songwriter Raveena Aurora combines R&B with genres like soul, jazz and indie pop. The Indian-Punjabi American artist explores themes of her queer identity, hardships, mental health and personal healing through the lens of her Indian background and upbringing. She made her debut in 2012 with the release of her first single “Grey Eyes,” later skyrocketing to fame with her album Shanti in 2017. In more recent years, NPR named her album Lucid one of the “most soothing and punishing albums of 2019,” and NPR and Rolling Stone named her last album Asha’s Awakening as one of the best albums of 2022. With 1.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the authenticity and vulnerability that permeate through Raveena’s songs allow listeners from a variety of backgrounds to find solace in her creations. 


Dhruv Sharma is a Singaporean American singer of Indian descent who released his hit song “double take” in 2019 when he was a student at Yale University. He quickly gained traction as “double take” went viral on TikTok, and the song earned a spot on Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits playlist in 2021. Now, the R&B singer reaches an audience of 8.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify. His music centers on the exploration of his own identity, often delving into themes of love, sexuality, vulnerability and adolescence. He released singles “moonlight” and “vulnerable” in 2020, and album rapunzel in 2022. 

Priya Ragu

Tamil-Swiss singer and songwriter Priya Ragu produces R&B and soul music focused on her Indian identity and upbringing. Raised in Switzerland, Ragu grew up speaking the language Tamil and watching Tamil-language “Kollywood” films. She first broke into the music industry in 2017 with the release of a collaborative album with her brother titled Ragu Wavy. The album combined R&B, soul and traditional Tamil music. She released the album damnshestamil in 2021, containing some of her most popular songs such as “Good Love 2.0,” “Chicken Lemon Rice’’ and “Kamali,” building her current fanbase of almost 270,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. She often underlays Tamil folk songs and samples of songs from “Kollywood” films within her music as a homage to her rich heritage. 

Hasan Raheem

Pakistani singer-songwriter Hasan Raheem produces soft R&B and indie rap songs mostly in English and Hindi. Raheem began his musical career in 2018 while attending medical school in Pakistan. He embodies a free-flowing lyrical style characterized by its simplicity and relatability, explaining in an interview with Forbes that he tries to “keep (the lyrics) as simple as possible so that anyone who listens to (his) songs can connect with them.” Through his music, he integrates facets of his identity by writing some lyrics in his native language Shina and incorporating “Gilgiti-inspired dance moves” in his music videos. He started gaining popularity when his songs “Aisay Kaisay,” “Joona” and “Aarzu” amassed millions of views on YouTube. Hasan Raheem currently has more than 700,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.