By: Michelle Gomez, Staff Writer
Back in 2015, South Korean rapper Keith Ape’s “It G Ma” blew up the Internet, closely followed by Indonesia’s Rich Chigga (now known as Rich Brian) with “Dat $tick.” They were followed by a multitude of other new Asian hip-hop artists, and somewhere out of this frenzy, 88rising was born.
In an interview with music magazine Pitchfork, 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro said, “A lot of people are wondering, ‘What is 88rising exactly? Is it a YouTube channel? Is it a management company? Is it a record label?’ It’s actually everything. Our general ethos is that we want to push this shit forward.” Miyashiro referred to it as “Vice for Asian culture.”
In other words, 88rising is a movement. According to urban culture blog Highsnobiety, “the platform takes a holistic approach to artist development, working collaboratively with each talent to realize their vision rather than attempting to conform them to a particular market.” In this sense it differs from traditional record labels, which normally shape their artists into a specific image that they believe will sell.
While one of 88rising’s main goals is to give Asian artists a platform and a voice in hip-hop culture, Miyashiro explained to Pitchfork that his main criteria for recruiting new artists is the quality of their music. In addressing fans who have been wanting to see Filipino artists on the label, Miyashiro responded, “Real talk, from a music perspective, if I don’t fuck with it, just ‘cause it’s from the Philippines, I’m not gonna put it up.” In other words, he first and foremost wants to promote talented artists.
This new subgenre of hip-hop and rap has become so popular in Western culture that 88rising is going on a North American tour whose stops include Vancouver. The event will take place at the Pacific Colosseum on Friday, October 26 and will feature an exiting roster of artists, including Rich Brian, Joji, Keith Ape, Higher Brothers, KOHN, NIKI, AUGUST 08, and Don Krez (as a side note, it is not sold out yet).
In an interview with The Peak, Alicia Dang, vice-president external relations of the SFU Canadianized Asian Club (CAC) said that she has seen a lot of excitement surrounding the upcoming 88rising event in Vancouver, and around their movement in general.
“When 88rising came out I was so excited because I had never seen anything like it . . . I thought that was really cool,” said Dang. She appreciated 88risings dedication to including Southeast Asian artists.
“If you look at Rich Brian, he learned English by himself. I thought it was cool how he tried to immerse himself into American hip-hop culture, since there are not many Asians involved in it currently . . . I think it’s just great that they’re blowing up.”