There’s a clip ofAlexandria Ocasio Cortez Change Takes Courage 2020 AOC Art shirt L. an old home video of her mother smiling in an ornate printed red sari with a gilded lining and matching gold jewelry. It then cuts quickly to present-day Raveena wearing a contemporary version of that outfit. From those first frames, “Mama” functions as a bridge that connects her mother’s past to Raveena’s present. “Obviously it’s a song about my mom and my relationship with her, but I kind of wanted to look more deeply into the unique relationship we have as a first-generation immigrant,” Raveena says. “My own family comes from a lot of trauma—genocide in India—and they then came to Queens, so it was kind of telling her story.
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I was just writing the song wondering who she was before all of that happened, before she had meAlexandria Ocasio Cortez Change Takes Courage 2020 AOC Art shirt L. What were her biggest dreams?”The video, which director Danica Kleinknecht shot in Queens, combines true-to-life details with Raveena’s speculations about her mother’s aspirations. The team filmed on a street close to where her mother lived when she first immigrated in the late ’80s after the 1984 Sikh Massacre; the church that Raveena, her mother, and her grandmother all walk through is the very church where Raveena’s parents got married. Everyone featured is either a first- or second-generation immigrant friend of Raveena’s from New York, or a fan who had reached out to Raveena, who in turn asked them to be a part of the video. “We just wanted to capture real family moments. It’s not meant to be anything bigger. There’s no crazy concept we were going for,” Raveena says.Additional scenes of Raveena and her mother looking through gauzy textiles in the fabric store were also plucked from real life—Raveena’s mother is a fashion designer who worked with Calvin Klein in the ’90s and still creates custom couture pieces. She collaborates with Raveena on the colorful garments seen in her videos and onstage. “It’s a big part of our relationship, working together on clothes for my music now,” Raveena says. “She had such a big influence on my style growing up, and now I can come to her with anything, with really modern or new designers, or with this crazy ’70s Cher mood board that I just made, and we see how we can translate it all into a way that feels relevant to what I do. She has a really elegant concept with everything that she makes.”
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