Girls can rap too! Meet Yasheelee Kalingamudali

By Mahika Panditha 

Music is such a big part of our daily lives, whether we realise it or not. With that being said, there are so many talented people out there in the world, and even right here on our beautiful island. One of them is Yasheelee Kalingamudali – she is an amazingly talented artist and baker! Yasheelee is currently in her fourth year as a biomedical science undergraduate. She also pursues her passions; baking in her own company Sugar Cakes, and music as well, which we will go on to discuss later! Yasheelee released a cover a short while back – she hopes to become Sri Lanka’s first international female rap/hip-hop recording artist whilst also pursuing a career in science. We cannot wait to see all the amazing things she is bound to do in the future. Till then, stay tuned to her socials and check out what she had to say! 

First off, you are a biomedical science undergraduate – what inspired you to go into that field and how has your experience been so far? 

After I completed my A/Ls there were two things I was sure of:

I did not want to re-sit the examsI very much still wanted to pursue studies in the field of biological sciences 

Once I looked through options in Sri Lanka I came across KIU which offered Bcs. (Hons) degree in Biomedical Sciences. I’m currently in my final semester, and it has not been easy juggling academics with my other ventures, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Biomedical science is no easy stream, it presents students with the knowledge and laboratory skills in the medical field, thereby becoming a vast area. This allowed me to understand which fields of science interest me the most, and I plan to follow higher studies in them.

Of course studying in the middle of a pandemic has been hectic and tiresome to say the least, but I think with a little dedication and a load of love and curiosity into what you’re studying you can ace anything! 

You also run your own cake and cupcake shop! Talk to us about Sugar Cakes, we want to know everything!

Sugar Cakes was born in 2017 after I first made one of my most absolute favourite cakes yet, a burger cake for my brother’s birthday. This was my first proper cake, and even to this day I am amazed at how well it came out! Afterwards I slowly started undertaking orders for friends and family. In the case of growing a following on Instagram and Facebook it has been slow growth, but I’ve kept at it and this has allowed me to grow in skill much more easily. 

This also being a side hustle while also engaging in studies and Sugar Cakes being a one-woman team, I’ve focused on quality rather than on quantity and I think that’s something I use on a lot of aspects in my life.

Baking is a form of therapy to me, understanding a client’s needs and ideas and then making my own version is so calming. I love the feeling it brings to see or listen to my customer’s reactions when they see the cake for the first time!

How do you balance school and work? Any tips? 

I swear, it’s not easy. Somedays I get by with only a couple hours of sleep. I’m also a person who hates getting stressed so it’s a bad combination to be honest, but like I said the satisfaction really is worth it!

With music, baking, and studies, the common thing is that I’m doing it because I want to, because they all make me happy. So I think that’s just it, you will always make time for things you love, and you will never get that satisfaction anywhere else.

We absolutely love your cover of ‘Godzilla’! You are so talented – how did you get into rap?

Thank you so much! Honestly the love and support has been overwhelming!

Ever since I was a kid rap fascinated me. The rhythm, the beats, the double entendres, how innovative it is as a genre, the skill, and how authentic it is from one artist to another has always fascinated me. Ever since I was small, I tried my best to learn lyrics to popular rap songs. Growing up using the internet wasn’t as common as it is now, so learning by myself was challenging, especially with English being a second language. 

Godzilla is something that came into life during the pandemic. I came across the Godzilla challenge and was determined to learn not just the fastest verse but the whole song itself. In the process I let my family and friends listen to it and they all said one thing: “You should make a cover and do more of these!” Fast forward a year and here I am!

What are your thoughts on the rap scene in Sri Lanka? 

Rap is an art form quite unlike any other, and I think the meaning is lost, especially in the South Asian community. Rap is degraded as loud or because of the use of profanity, while almost all musical genres have songs with the same characteristics. It’s also labelled as a more “boyish/male” genre which I find to be absurd. 

Music or anything really does not have a gender. Women and girls have always had to fight their way into things and I believe there will be more women and girls in the rap scene in Sri Lanka in the near future!

The Sinhala rap scene in Sri Lanka is thriving while English or any other language seems to be having a slow growth. I see people work so hard at their music and not get recognised, maybe due to the stigma or maybe due to the lack of understanding. I hope this changes with time. Rap truly deserves more recognition due to the level and skill needed.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

To simply put it, happy. This is not to say that I am not currently happy or that I believe that happiness is something gained after a certain milestone but I hope whatever it is I am doing in five years I’ll be happy with it, that I’ll be content. I hope to bring a positive impact to the world in the field of science, a positive impact to all the girls in Sri Lanka hoping to reach their dreams and to have my tiny baking business reach the next level!

Can we expect more covers? If so, any hints?

Yes, you can! I’ve had another cover on hold due to my studies and I’ve been coming up with more ideas in the past few weeks. Hopefully they will be out in the near future. I would love it if any fans could reach out to me and let me know their suggestions as well!