LiFTED LiSTS: BEST VIDEOS OF 2021
A list of 10 was impossible, so we added a few honorable mentions
LiFTED has only been in existence for nine short months, and we are only getting started. Our focus from Day 1 has been to elevate Asian Hip Hop and we’re well on our way to doing that by publishing 500-plus articles filled with more than 300,000 words about Hip Hop in 20 different Asian countries and around the world in 2021. This December, we’re doing a wrap-up of the year with LiFTED LiSTS - our picks of the good, the exceptional, and even the downright awful of 2021. Here is Asia’s Hip Hop culture through LiFTED’s lens.
When an artist is coming up, most managers/promoters/hangers-on say they have to really focus on building their social media. This is 100 percent true, but the biggest social media of all is not TikTok, IG, FB, or Weibo. The undisputed leader is YouTube, and once an artist starts hitting on YouTube, the world is theirs.
All the staff at LiFTED made lists of who we thought should be where and then discussed it, talked about it, yelled at each other a little bit, and finally came up with what we think are the 10 best videos of the year, plus two honorable mentions. We didn’t have criteria weighted on views or record labels leaning on us or reaction videos. Instead, we just went with what we felt were the most important, creative, and newsmaking videos of the year and came up with a hell of a list.
This Best Videos of 2021 list celebrates the artist as well as the directors and all the crew members who worked on the videos to make them successful in 2021.
VannDa [Cambodia] ‘Time To Rise’
Director: Jeremiah Overman
VannDa can easily lay claim to the best 2021 of any Asian rapper, and ‘Time to Rise’ is a major part of that. The song and video was a monocultural event in Cambodia where young kids and grandmas on the street knew it. With a population of 16 million in Cambodia and 80 million views on ‘Time To Rise,’ technically every person in Cambodia could have watched this video five times.
A big reason for the success of ‘Time To Rise’ is Master Kong Nay. VannDa respectfully nodded to the past with the revered chapei player as well as wearing the traditional Khmer sampot. He didn’t forget about the now, though. VannDa is flyAF and he knows it. He’s got face tats. He’s got chains. He knows what’s up. The sampling of the old track makes way for the new Hip Hop sounds, as well as the new generation of musicians that are taking over in Cambodia.
‘Time To Rise’ was filmed in the National Museum of Cambodia, and praised for blending traditional khmer culture seamlessly with contemporary street Rap aesthetics.
JP The Wavy featuring OZworld, LEX & ¥ellow Bucks [Japan] ‘Wavebody’
Director: MESS & WAVY FRIENDS
The bounce will make you dance. It’s as simple as that. JP The Wavy gets three of the hottest rappers in Japan, gives them a bouncy beat to rhyme to, and the song slaps. Then, for the video, grab some kids that are perfect mini-mes of each rapper, dress them up in fly gear, and you have one of the coolest videos in Asian Hip Hop. The nod to early 2000’s Rap videos is not missed, and JP gets credit again for the styling Behind the scenes, the kids were confused but excited to be around the rappers having fun, which really captures the essence of JP The Wavy as well as OZworld, LEX & ¥ellow Bucks
Prabh Deep [India] ‘Paapi’
Director: Mikhail Anand
Besides having one of the best monikers in Indian Hip Hop, Prabh Deep puts a lot of thought into anything he does. In his video for ‘Paapi’ is shot in some of the most desolate, ruinous portions of Ladakh, which shows the stunning scenery of the Himalayas. Prabh is on a quest to find the golden amulet, but in reality, he finds himself which is worth more than any gold. ‘Paapi’ is just one of the reasons Prabh had such a stellar year with the release of Tabia to critical and commercial acclaim.
JB [Hong Kong]- ‘Lighter’
JB is another MC who has had an exceptional year. He sold out a big venue show in Hong Kong so quickly that they had to add a second night. This track and video for ‘Lighter’ are a big part of why those tickets went so quickly. There are some Twerk-ish elements here that make the floor shake, but it’s the comedy from JB and his cohorts Ron J and Yelo that work so well.
Ramengvrl [Indonesia] ‘I’m Ugly’
Director: Gilbert March
Ramengvrl is Indonesia’s undisputed queen of Hip Hop. Her creativity and brassy intelligence lyrically are unmatched. ‘I’m Ugly’ blasts holes through the notions that you need to be a Barbie to be a superstar. She touches on all female insecurities and then has a dance party at the local aesthetician’s office.
Đen featuring MTV Band [Vietnam]- ‘Trốn Tìm’
Director: Ong DONG & Ba HUONG
With a bit of Latin flair from the MTV Band, Đen’s gorgeous ‘Trốn Tìm’ recreates The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein in video form. Đen is a tree that raps in the video and he is there for the girl through the storms, through the sun, through the beautiful sunsets, and even though the fights with her boyfriend when she is a woman. Eventually, Đen is gone and the song is over.
Đen is a superstar in Vietnam where this video racked up 50 million views. Like VannDa in nearby Cambodia, this video changed Đen’s life for the better once it dropped. While this is not Đen’s typical style, it shows his growth and maturity.
大淵Muta [Taiwan] ‘FatBoyGang’
Director: Stay High Crew Mickey
大淵Muta has definitely been the busiest one out of the MJ116 crew this year as he’s dropped video after video on the lead-up to his album, Phat Life. This single was played two or three times by the DJs on the night of the LiFTED launch party before the video was even out, so it was coming in hot. As soon as the video dropped, it exploded in Taiwan because everyone likes the plus-sized rapper. The video sees 大淵Muta and his crew at a hot fry restaurant getting a little bit loose. Just remember, if you mess with 大淵Muta’s crew, don’t be mad when 大淵Muta’s crew embarrasses you.
Miyachi [Japan]- ‘What Happened’
Director: Kirk Wolf & Miyachi
Miyachi has put out a few killer tracks this year. In ‘What Happened,’ Miyachi is a jack-of-all-trades by playing all the roles in the video. First, he’s a news anchor who takes a shot of Jägermeister and things go wonky. Soon, he’s a reporter on the street and even the weatherman. In typical Miyachi fashion, he’s soon drinking with himself as all the characters.
Bohan Phoenix [China] ‘but I still love you’
Director: JDH & Bohan Phoenix
One of the lowlights of the year was Asian hate crimes that were happening in the US and globally with regularity. As an Asian Hip Hop star, Bohan has straddled Asian and Hip Hop culture for a lot of his adult life and felt compelled to write this anthem explaining that things will be better when all minorities work together. ‘But I still love you’ is a throwback to the Boom Bap era, and Bohan is at his finest when he’s smiling and encircled by his friends.
Pyra featuring Ramengvrl & Yayoi Daimon [Thailand]- ‘Yellow Fever’
Pyra, Ramengvrl, and Yayoi Daimon are ferocious on the mic, and even better when they are blasting men for coming to Asia for fantasies. 2021’s feminist anthem ‘Yellow Fever’ has Asia’s three fiercest female MCs lyrically kicking guys in their nutsacks for fetishizing them. Pyra gets bonus points here for the outfit of the year with her blonde wig twisted up into two penises pointing into the sky.