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Pop-R&B quartet Rak-Su won the 2017 season of the U.K. X Factor. Performing original music on the show -- more than any other act before them -- they won audiences over with their showmanship and fun, positive attitude, becoming the first boy band to triumph.
Formed in the commuter town of Watford, just north of London, by school friends Ashley Fongho (rapper and principal songwriter), Jamaal Shurland (lead singer), Myles Stephenson (rapper and producer), and Mustafa Rahimtulla (dancer, DJ, and beatboxer), the group was already a well-oiled machine before auditioning, with extensive performance experience and a self-released EP, 2016's Flights 'n' Feels, under their belt. Their unusual name comes from the phrase "tracks vs. suits," signifying the conflict between carefree youth, exemplified in making music, and adult responsibility. After leaving school, the four held down varied day jobs, ranging from physiotherapist to dance teacher. Showing astute business acumen, they formed their own limited company several months before auditioning for The X Factor, to handle any earnings they might make. Despite having previously forsworn the show, they changed their minds, deciding it was a way to get more exposure even if they didn't win. In the event, they did so with ease, becoming clear favorites from the outset and coming first in almost every round; mentor Simon Cowell compared them favorably with One Direction. They performed many of their original songs, showcasing a fun, exciting blend of Latin-tinged pop, rap, and R&B.
Following their win, Rak-Su signed, as expected, to Cowell's Syco label. Their self-penned debut single, "Dimelo," featuring Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy and taken from the group's self-title EP, hit number two on the U.K. singles chart. 2019 began with the arrival of the Rome EP, followed by the single "Rotate (Clockwise)." ~ John D. Buchanan
- Watford, Hertfordshire, England
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