You listen to Kanye West, to Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Travis Scott. Without a doubt, these guys know how to spit sick bars and drop heavy beats.
But as the years have gone by, the hip-hop scene has shown that it isn’t just dominated by talented African Americans anymore.
I don’t think I need to tell you this, but Asia is on fire right now with rap music culture as a whole. Just take a look at Korea, China, Taiwan, and you can see the influence of hip-hop in not just the music, but in their fashion sense and attitude as well.
Some of the Asian MCs have even found success in North America. Case study numero uno, Rich Chigga. An Indonesian-Chinese rapper who made it big with his viral hit “Dat $tick”. Since then, Chigga has gone on to release several other songs and has toured the United States. Talk about getting dat money.
Rap music in Asia is only getting more and more prevalent, and it’s going all the way up. Let’s take a moment to appreciate 10 of these under-30 rappers from our continent.
1. Higher Brothers
I call them the Asian Migos. Higher Brothers is a Chinese rap trio hailing from Chengdu.
Look them up online, take a listen to their releases, and you’ll know why they deserve the recognition. Crazy flows, sick beats, and a superstar-like swagger; this group can get you turnt up.
Viral hits like “WeChat” and “Made In China” are just a couple that you need to check out. Guaranteed to make you go, “damn, this song makes me want to arrest the cops”.
2. C Jamm
A fitting name for the insane jams he churns out; C Jamm is a South Korean rapper who made his name in the rap competition TV show, Show Me The Money.
He released his first studio album, Good Boy Doing Bad Things back in 2015, before even making his appearance on the rap competition. So he’s been in the game for a little while now, and he’s still on the rise.
“Illusion”, “Watch”, and “Just Music” are merely some of the jams he’s known for. With his mellow tone and precise flow, you’ll want to plug in your headphones for this one.
3. Keith Ape
Born Lee Dong Heon, Keith Ape is a young Korean rapper to be reckoned with. At just 23, he’s only getting bigger and better.
Keith Ape already has several high-key collaborations under his belt. “Gospel” is a track he did with Rich Chigga and American rapper XXXTentacion, so you know that stuff is already blowing up.
Remember the Higher Brothers track “WeChat” I was talking about earlier? Keith Ape was featured on it; and boy do I love his verse. I don’t understand his language, but I can understand what it means to be killing it.
But if you want to listen to the definitive song that made him who he is, check out “It G Ma”. The trap sound is paired with trippy visuals for the music video, and it certainly caught the attention of Grammy Award winning DJ, Skrillex.
Almost halfway through the list now, and we have a female representative from Vietnam. Tiny in stature but not in attitude or voice, Suboi was raised in Saigon and she raps in both Vietnamese and English. That certainly helps with international appeal.
Can you name me another rapper who had the opportunity to rap live, in front of Barack Obama? Suboi did just that when Obama visited Ho Chi Minh City for a Q&A session with promising Vietnamese youth.
Check out her song “Đời” to get a feel of that unique sound.
5. Tizzy T
To be honest, this guy is pretty new to me too. I chanced upon him while I was randomly going through YouTube.
A Chinese hip-hop artist from Guangzhou, he’s recognised for his energetic live performances. Sporting prominent dreadlocks, Tizzy T is all about that culture.
His good-vibes music will keep you awake while you type out an essay assignment. Check out his songs on YouTube and peep one below.
Another young’un, and this time a rapper from Japan. YDIZZY rapped about BMWs before Desiigner did on “Panda”. “BMW” was a track he released in 2015, and just this year in June, he dropped a new album, DIZZiNESS.
Having been brought up in Shibuya, YDIZZY is well-versed in all things young and hip, and that translates well into his music.
His confidence is unparalleled; he’s good and he knows it, and his lyrics are proof of that.
Listen to his newer tracks like “YES” and “OMW” to get a glimpse of what I’m talking about.
In a DJ Khaled voice, another one. Once again, here’s a South Korean rapper who’s a really close friend of another rapper mentioned earlier on this list. BewhY is the childhood friend of C Jamm, and both of them competed in the fifth season of Show Me The Money.
A little bit of friendly competition doesn’t hurt, and it pushed the two rappers to do even better. BewhY ended up winning the competition, with C Jamm taking second place. But both of them maintained that closely-knit friendship.
As with any other rappers who made it big, check out BewhY decked out in Gucci, going hard on the mic with “9UCCI BANK”. There’s also a collaboration with C Jamm named “Puzzle”.
I don’t speak Korean, but I understand when somebody is spitting fire.
8. Kid Fresino
Konichiwa everybody. Kid Fresino spits bars in Japanese which takes you on an auditory adventure.
Hailing from Japan, his flow is relaxed and effortless. You could totally just be chilling on a Sunday, listening to his tunes.
Kid Fresino was once just a producer, and you could say that his rapping career began as an accident. He was in the studio one time, and just thought, why not try rapping over a track.
As they say, the rest is history. He is a quiet dude with no social media accounts, but every emotion and every feeling he has, he shares it in his music.
9. DPR Live
A rapper from the land of Samsung, Hong Da Bin – better known as DPR Live, has crazy flows to match his sick beats. He gives me little bit of that A$AP Rocky vibe.
He released his debut album earlier this year in March, and I can tell you right now, it’s really dope. It certainly helps that the visuals for his music videos are all incredible as well.
In 2015, he released his first song on YouTube called “Till I Die”, and he never looked back.
You need to listen to songs like “Right Here Right Now” and “Know Me”. Do yourself a favour and watch the music video too.
Ending off the list, we have a bad-ass female hip-hop artist. Coming from the same homeland as Rich Chigga, Ramengvrl is undeniably talented.
She is very new though, and still hasn’t got much under her belt yet. Her interest in rap spawned when a friend introduced her to Kanye West, and then she started recording her own lyrics using only a webcam microphone.
Ramengvrl is past that rookie stage of using a webcam mic now, as she dropped a hot new track called “I’m Da Man”. A trap sound mixed with her deep voice, the track is just waiting to blow up.
Belonging to a new age of Indonesian rappers alongside Rich Chigga, keep your eyes peeled for Ramengvrl.
With this list of 10/10 hip-hop artists, I’m sure you won’t have an issue figuring out what song to get lit to when you’re on your next road trip. They may not be rapping in English, but music knows no boundaries.
Oh and if you do listen to them while driving, keep at least one hand on the wheel. I know it’s hard to not put both hands in the air, but safety first, always.