East Avenue: Your Dream Asian Hip-Hop Crew
Want to try broadening your music tastes, but don’t know where to start? We here at Vulture have got you covered by making life easier for you to navigate a whole new world of Asian music. Listen to one track or play them on repeat; we guarantee that these tunes are sure to spice up your playlist. And you can pretend to be more refined and international about your music tastes to your friends too.
For the past month, we’ve been putting together our dream team of hip-hop musos that kill it on stage. There’s nothing like busting out those rhymes to get you into the mood.
First to make it to our crew is definitely Epik High. Big on vibes and even bigger on stage presence, the alternative hip-hop trio hailing from South Korea plays around with beats and lyrics for a distinctly groovy sound. With each member – Tablo, DJ Tutukz and Mithra – all coming from different rap backgrounds, this side project combines the best to create timeless songs. Epik High had a rough start, and started off with more anti-fans than fans, but they managed to pull through, becoming the first South Korean rap group to perform at the acclaimed Coachella. Nothing will be able to stop these guys! Take a listen to ‘One’, one of their biggest hits still to this today.
Next up is ShiGGa Shay from a little city called Singapore. With the multicultural and diverse background of the Singapore music scene, ShiGGa Shay is exposed to a variety of genres and styles that is reflected in his rap lyrics. He might look all hype and no talent, but if it’s one thing that ShiGGa Shay can do, it’s rap. Not just rap in English, but also in Hokkien and Mandarin. Reaching the peak of his career with the success of his crew the Grizzle Grind Crew, ShiGGa Shay recently dropped his self-titled debut album. Our favourite pick from the album is ‘LimPeh’ (directly translation: father) which is a track commentary on Singapore’s stereotypes. But ShiGGa Shay is not content with just dominating the rap scene; he has even bigger plans, with directing and shooting a movie somewhere in the horizons.
Who can forget MC Hotdog. Born and bred in Taiwan, MC Hotdog is known for his use of explicit lyrics that touch on sensitive topics. Even though he dominates the freestyle rap scene, he has released a couple of records. Here’s our favourite – ‘Wo Ai Tai Mei’, which basically translates to ‘I love Taiwanese girls’. With repetitive, grooving beats, MC Hotdog’s songs are really simple, yet manage to draw you in, even if you have no clue what he might be talking about.
Bambu might have grown up in LA, but he is still a Filipino at heart. Embracing his heritage, he touches on the difficulties he faces as a Filipino-American. If you want to talk about street cred, than this guy would rank high on the list. As a reformed gang member, Bambu is as thug as you can get. Not just that, but he’s been through a few different careers including being a Marine, but being a rapper is his latest choice. Bambu makes his political intentions very clear from the beginning to help bring attention to the racism and discrimination he faced. Here’s one of his tracks, ‘Minimum Wage’, off his latest album that touches on more political grassroots topics.