88rising: The New Era of Asian Hip-Hop

When we think about pop music, there is often a perception that it is always different between different cultures or regions.

When we think about pop music, there is often a perception that it is always different between different cultures or regions. Like there’s rap music, definitely American and there’s K-pop, definitely Korean. This is changing, however, as we advance into the future of music, the classifications of cultural or regional music are slowly but surely decaying, we have Chinese rappers like Kris Wu and Multilingual artists like Camila Cabello, some artists would even go as far as to learn to sing in another language for a song like Justin Bieber.This once divided culture of pop music is slowly evolving into one unified movement.

88rising illustration by kristian hammerstad
Illustration by Kristian Hammerstad

This is where 88rising comes in. A record company founded in 2015 by Sean Miyashiro that has in recent years strongly broke into the scene. Their gimmick is that they fuse eastern and western music styles together to create this new innovative culture of multicultural-multilingual music. Breakout artists such as Rich Brian and Joji and are great examples of artists whose popularity thrives off of this new culture from their great sense of creativity.

Rich Brian, formerly known as Rich Chigga, is an Indonesian rapper who is currently signed with 88rising. He first broke into the scene in early 2016 after releasing his debut song by the title of ‘Dat Stick’ and people loved it. It was extremely popular not only for his unusual yet unique style of rapping but also his unusual charisma in the music video.

Rich Chigga was such a huge breath of fresh air for rap fans as they have never heard an artist quite like him, people quickly noticed he had a talent for rapping as his lyrics were impactful and he has a very uniquely deep rapping voice. In addition to his talents in rapping, people also noticed that he was Indonesian, which really astounded everyone as they would’ve never guessed someone of this ethnic background could produce music of a foreign culture to such high degree. Not only did he get the recognition of his rising fan base, his talents were also noticed and endorsed by well-known American rappers in a reaction video on YouTube, with such recognition and credibility, his popularity truly sky-rocketed – collaborating with famous rappers like Ghost-face from the Wu-Tang Clan and hitting over 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. To think that music is exclusively a regional thing is definitely old- fashioned as music is constantly moving forward, now evolving from cultural limitations as evidence from Rich Brian’s tremendous success, having just released a new studio album in early 2018.