LiFTED LiSTS: Best Tracks of 2022
With so many amazing releases this year, it was hard to pick just 10
LiFTED’s focus from the jump has been to shine the spotlight on MCs, DJs, B-Girls and B-Boys, designers, artists, clubs, groups, and anyone who is doing dope Hip Hop related things in the Pan-Asian region. After a year and nine months, LiFTED is well on the way to achieving the goal of ‘Elevating Asian Hip Hop’ by publishing 15 stories per week to inform, entertain, and educate. This December, we are doing our annual wrap-up of the year with LiFTED LiSTS - our picks of the good, the exceptional, and even the downright awful of 2022. Here is Asia’s Hip Hop culture through LiFTED’s lens.
If you’re reading this, then you know that Asian Hip Hop is going off all around the region, and it’s only a matter of time before one of the MCs hits it big. Drake big. Bad Bunny big. Wizkid big. The question is not if it’s going to happen but when will it happen. LiFTED feels honored to be part of this scene that stretches from the beaches of Borneo to the B-Girl battles in Beijing and every single cypher in between. LiFTED gets pleasure in showing people artists they may have never heard of or boosting the signal of a fan favorite. Over the past 12 months, we’ve covered a ton of amazing music, and here are our top 10 tracks for 2022.
GINJIN 'YELLOW DJANGO'
There are some songs that have hit written all over them. When Zaya Tatar plays those first few piano keys on GINJIN’s ‘Yellow Django,’ and then the Mongolian MC raps, “I’m still chained but my chain gold,” it’s the perfect concoction of a dope idea, amazing music, and skills in the booth. GINJIN hit it out of the park coming out of a pandemic and watching the Asian hate that was floating around on the internet. He’s angry, but instead of directing his displeasure at someone, he put his pen to work. GINJIN even has some surprises in store for this one, so be on the lookout for them.
Mrs M 'Daughter of Khan'
On the streets of Mongolia, Genghis Khan is celebrated everywhere. Instead of smashing the patriarchy, which would be nearly impossible in Mongolia, she took the idolatry and flipped it into a feminist anthem. On the Harry Fraud-produced ‘Daughter of Khan,’ Mrs M raps, “I’m the daughter of Khan/Pops told me how to live like a don” as smoothly as if she were chilling on a street corner in downtown Atlanta instead of the frozen walkways of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Genghis Khan conquered most of the known world when he was around, and now it’s time for the daughter of Khan to do the same.
Jackson Wang 'Blow'
Jackson Wang’s ‘Blow’ sits at 30 million views on YouTube, which is well above GINJIN and Mrs M’s impressive one million views each, but ‘Blow’ is at number three. Why is this you ask? Jackson has had a monumental career with his boy band G7, his Hip Hop crew Panthepack, as well as his fashion line. When someone mentions Asian artists, Jackson Wang is in the first sentence or two. For this list, we weigh the scales a little more for true Hip Hop as well as artists who are doing this thing in their own way. ‘Blow’ comes in at number three because it’s the crown diamond in Jackson’s stellar year.
By now, you should know how much LiFTED loves this track. Last week, we wrote about how the music video for ‘Guneghar’ was one of the best of the year. And now, we’re here to tell you that it’s also one of the best tracks of the year. Produced by the acclaimed American producer Hit-Boy, the track swings with a raucous and hard-hitting energy. And of course, Divine absolutely smashes it with his genre-defining approach. That’s not something every MC could channel, and it’s definitely not something that is easily imitated. ‘Guneghar’ is a statement track, and it sonically defines everything Divine stands for.
RAMENGVRL Yung Raja ‘Ming Ling’
Hip Hop doesn’t always need to be so serious. While LiFTED loves the hard-hitting tracks, there’s a long line of hilarious songs that are great to put on to be pushed into a good mood. ‘Ming Ling’ comes from that lineage as RAMENGVRL and Yung Raja trade jokes and good lines as they join forces for the very first time. RAMEN twists up a few languages as she compares herself being crazy [shen jen ping] to opening up people’s eyes [yanjing]. Raja pulls the same trick as he sounds as good as he ever has when he switches the languages up.
BIBI ‘BIBI Vengeance’
BIBI’s output in the last two months of 2022 is nothing short of exceptional. She’s broken the mold of what a Korean Hip Hop/K-Pop artist should be and with ‘BIBI Vengeance,’ she is dancing on top of what's left. The beat to ‘BIBI Vengeance’ is exhilarating and is causing quite a stir on TikTok as everyone wants in on the dances. 2022 showed that BLACKPINK is extremely popular, but there’s room in the space for abstract artists like BIBI to do her own thing and define her music in her own way.
OG BOBBY VannDa ‘Bong’
If there was a duo of the year, it would definitely be this glorious link-up between OG Bobby and VannDa. The flavor that splashes out between these two hitmakers is so original, fresh, and completely natural. All of this is evident on their single ‘Bong,’ where VannDa takes on the duties for the hook, and it’ll get your head and body bobbing along to it. You can’t listen to this track without smiling and grooving, and it’ll pick you up every single time you put it on. Let’s hope in 2023 that there will be more Thai and Cambodian collabs.
Aman RA DATO’ MAW, KUDOSHI ‘Runcit’
The beat for ‘Runcit’ is just a fairly simple loop, but when a producer like Aman RA finds something that works, he runs with it. All three MCs on this track kill it because each has their own boombastic style. Aman RA starts off with his distinct vocals and then hands it off to DATO’ MAW, who flexes in his Cina style. Capping off the track is KUDOSHI, who smoothly takes it to the end. ‘Runcit’ simply runs this shit.
Bohan Phoenix ‘Take Off, Touch Down’
Picture this. It’s a scorching day, and the heat is weighing you down. Every movement takes extra effort from you now, and your T-shirt is stained from all the sweat you’ve worked up. You get home and turn on the AC, and suddenly you’re back to feeling a 100 again. That’s what Bohan Phoenix’s ‘Take Off, Touch Down’ is. It’s air-conditioning for the ears. The track is filled with so much soul and funk, and Bohan’s voice tops it all off just right. Be it for an intimate dinner for two at home or a dance with all your homies – ‘Take Off, Touch Down’ hits all the right spots.
JB & The Afroseas ‘To the Boat’
Asian Hip Hop has been slightly dabbling in Afrobeats over the past few years as the genre heats up the charts, but JB and The Afroseas go all in on ‘To the Boat’ and it works very well. The song has drums that pop, a melody that will make you want to get away for the weekend, and lyrics by Supa Massie, Triyso, and Greytone boss JB that really convey having a good time out in the water.