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HBO’s Warrior is leading Asian Hip Hop into battle

Crouching tiger, hidden talents

LiFTED | Roger Yiu | 23 Apr 2021

If you are searching for a directory of the hottest Hip Hop songs in Asia, you might want to grab your TV remote because the hit TV series Warrior got you covered. The bloody series based on a Bruce Lee manuscript is helping Asian rappers reach an international audience.

From executive producer Shannon Lee [aka Bruce Lee’s daughter] and Justin Lin [director of 4 Fast & Furious movies], Warrior depicts the daunting history with the semi-fictional perspective of a varied collection of immigrants, many of them Chinese, in 19th century San Francisco. The rivalries within gangs and annihilation from the Irishmen resemble an ugly truth that remains till this very day. As a racial minority, Asians were often bent against their wills to survive the suppression they face.

Warrior features a list of both high-profile and underground Asian rappers in every episode to introduce the unconventional yet ever-growing genre to the western audience in hopes to comprehend the flairs with thrilling visuals and moving plots.

You could easily Google the entire discography of the entire series, but to make your life easier, we listed some of our favorite tracks featured throughout the series, each with a distinctive flow and character.

蛋堡 Soft Lipa - ‘An Epic’ [Featured in S1E1]

Soft Lipa, who recently performed at Hip Hop Island in Taiwan, was lesser known when he released ‘An Epic’ back in 2013. Dubbing over a popular Taiwanese rock song, ‘Pigeon,’ ‘An Epic’ was Soft Lipa’s anthem of his early career manifesting his undying love and dedication to becoming a world-class rapper and bearing the responsibility of elevating Taiwan’s Hip Hop to a global stage. ‘An Epic’ is now commemorated as a modern Mando Hip Hop classic almost 10 years after its release and an apparent fit to introducing the fictional Warrior world to the audience.

A/DA 阿達 feat. Ken G - ‘穿鞋不穿襪’ [Featured in S1E8]

Layered with dynamic bassline and dashes of dubstep, the 2018 track ‘穿鞋不穿襪’ performed by Taiwanese rapper A/DA 阿達 is a husky hybrid of boom-bap and trap. A/DA and Ken G’s vocal performances are ambitious and breathtaking, giving the track a party feel with a sense of nuance.

呂士軒Trout Fresh - ‘孬種走了’ [Featured in S2E4]

Written and performed by a Taiwanese rapper who is set out for superstardom, TroutFresh’s 2018 Track ‘孬種走了’ is personal because he raps about getting bullied in his younger years. The jazzy bassline works perfectly in old school San Francisco.

KIGGA feat. Pact - ‘China Town’ [Featured in S2E8]

Inner Mongolia-born Kigga teamed up with Pact [a two-time Iron Mic champ] for the track China Town back in 2019. Given the series’ setting in San Francisco’s Chinatown, it was only natural for the track to make an appearance in the second season. Chinatown is a dark track narrating the challenges of overcoming racial profiling and discrimination as the first-generation immigrants who moved to San Franciso to pursue a better life.

ØZI- ‘枷鎖’ [Featured in S2E9]

The versatility of ØZI sets him apart from others in the new generation. Fluent in English and Mandarin, the critically-acclaimed rapper won the Best Newcomer Award at the Taiwan Golden Melody Awards with his debut album ØZI: The Album in 2019 and has since been turning it up. ‘枷鎖’ wraps the deep mind and R&B roots of ØZI into an urban Hip Hop song which radiates sexiness and attitude.

Warrior has been renewed for Season 3 and will be streaming on HBO Max soon.

Photo credit: Cinemax