Asian Rappers Are Slowly But Surely Becoming The New Face Of Hip Hop
West Meets East
Hate Or Love It But….Asian Rappers Are Revolutionizing Rythm & Poetry Sonically And Visually
Last week I had one those barbershop talks with my friend and contributor Miro Laflaga about Hip Hop and he pointed out something I never thought would come out of this: Asian rappers are slowly but surely running the genre!
Does it sound so far-fetched? Marshall Matters had a pass for now but the average Hip Hop fan couldn’t see this one coming. As a twitterverse-certified-5-stars-troll-expert once said:
The Internet ALWAYS Wins.
For the quote-unquote Hip Hop head that might feel like throwing a 1994 Illmatic cd case to my face, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Admit it or not, other rappers and even Wu Tang Clan had a thousand references to Asian culture.
I mean, do you think the ”36 Chambers Of Shaolin” was the name of a street in Staten Island? Was ”Thoia Thoing” was just R Kelly confessing some sexual crimes while he had hot sauce in his mouth?
Asian culture flirted with Hip Hop culture for a while but yet we still treat it as a side chick. Trap, Mumble Rap, Sentimental-Rap, Whatever-Kendrick-Lamar-Is-Doing-Rap, there are different waves in Hip Hop and Asian rappers are carving their own.
Don’t believe me? Let’s do a deep dive and get to the bottom of this phenomenon before it becomes ”The Thing”. We will introduce you to some current artists currently killing it and see how their sound and overall movement brings a new sauce to rap.
The Face Of A Movement
88 rising is more than a label, it’s a sub-culture in itself. Sean Miyashiro was able to tap into two things that became inseparable in the last 5 years: the internet culture and music.
With acts like Rich Brian (formerly known as Rich Chigga), The Higher Brothers, Joji and many more, he found a formula.
This formula consists of bridging the gap between East and West by implementing Asian culture references to Hip Hop. This is not your Netflix documentary going through the ABCs of what Asian rappers stand for.
It’s viral hits on top of viral hits. Funny, clever, catchy and visually stimulating to the point where even the Rakim fan in a rocking chair has to have an opinion about it.
Talking about shock value, I’ve found this hilarious video where our favorite rappers did a reaction video to ”Dat $tick” which was the first hit from Rich Brian.
If you’re not convinced yet, even Ghostface Killah felt like he should get his Tony Starks on the remix. Honorable mention to 88 rising for also creating the ”Harlem Shake” frenzy and for the months you hated your parents for doing it too.
The Good, The Dope And The Funny Visuals
Some Asian rappers could’ve played it safe and stick to the usual format for videos and music. We know the stereotype a little too well by now. A huge 20 stories project housing building, 30 scary looking dudes, a couple guns aiming at the cameraman and here you go.
For this new wave of artists, they bring you their culture in a creative–meme-worthy way while making your head bop crazy. Asian food, Asian hairstyles, Asian words here and there, Animes and references that make you want to know more. I mean you have to be a troll God to call your song ”Made In China” and drop the exact visuals of what we could think this song is about:
A Cultural Exchange
Do you want to know why we all get upset when Kim Kardashian rocks whatever-name-can-replace-the-term-cornrows? Because it doesn’t feel real or legit but yet she gets all the praise. With Asian rappers how easy would it be to point the finger and see them as culture vultures (bet Jeremy Lin and his dreads can tell you about it).
When you really think about it, Asian people stand in the second place of the podium in the ”They Robbed My Culture” Olympics. The same way we were all intrigued by what Kamehameha may mean and who was behind it, there are a lot of Asian kids on the other side of the planet that would eventually make us feel their mandarin version of ”Hate It Or Love It”.
Some Artists To Know
Killy might be the next big thing coming out of Toronto. An incredible ear for beats and he knows how to stay in his pocket through every track.
Even Montreal Has Its Own Wave Of Asian Rappers
Lil Lonely is an upcoming rapper from Montreal you need to check out. He’s that niche rapper that connects with his audience on a deeper level. Sonically different, and his Instagram feed is like an art gallery in itself!
CashWavey Boiz are Montreal’s very own Asian rappers duo. Underground still but they give us a glimpse of a potential takeover pretty soon. I’ve seen them perform live on stage and I had to tip my hat off to what they bring to the game and how they represent for the Asian community.