LiFTED LiSTS: Secret Stash
LiFTED writers choose their favorites of the year
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.
Digging through press releases, emails, and the internet in general to find compelling tracks, videos, and news is a satisfying job. At LiFTED, we have four writers who are always excited to share brand new Asian Hip Hop and hot-off-the-presses news with our readers every day. There is only one requirement for the tracks we pick to write about - they need to be dope.
In our final list of the year, our staff took a look back at the 500+ tracks we’ve covered and picked their secret stash of tracks that they really got into over 2021.
We hope you like them as much as we do.
BAP. ‘Painting with Suwage’
As a Post-Rock fan myself, BAP.’s ‘Painting with Suwage’ hits all the right notes. This track is ambitious with its musical composition, blending in Punk, Jazz, Funk, and Boom Rap Rap into a cohesive flow. The eloquent English and Bahasa verses bounce off nicely with the crunchy Lo-Fi guitar and funky drum. It is not a conventional Hip Hop track that psychs you up, but if you are down for a sonic adventure that comes in the form of Rap, ‘Painting with Suwage’ is an absolute gem.
Đen Vâu ‘Trốn Tìm’
It’s not every day you get to see a big-name rapper produce a song with a Folk-Rock band. Đen Vâu, the legendary rapper who has spent the last decade perfecting his bars knows exactly how to create tension and tell a story. The Downtempo, soothing Acoustic Soft Rock and Folk-like melody performed by the MTV band complimented Đen’s rapping while bringing in a lot of nuances into this melancholic track. ‘Trốn Tìm’ is a great song itself and has changed my view on how Rap songs could be done.
GR Yunk ‘27’
Emo Rap is not everyone’s cup of tea, and especially not mine, but ‘27’ somehow gets to me on a deeply personal level. In ‘27,’ Indonesian newcomer GR Yunk spent most of his raps depicting his struggle with mental illness and uncertainties with his life. What stunned me other than GR Yunk’s emotional raps is how well the musical elements are placed through the song. From the Auto-Tune vocals, the breathing noises, the random screaming, and the gunshot that abruptly ends the track, every detail plays a part in the ominous story GR Yunk was trying to tell. It feels almost like a Shakespeare tragedy. Truly breathtaking.
Txmiyama ‘Keys To The City’
Txmiyama, the Hong Kong-based rapper has been around for a while, he continues to rap about his hustling mentality and Hong Kong’s nightlife in his music. He is definitely one of the real ones.
This feel-good party track is the one that hooked me on Miyachi’s music. He’s been underrated for a long time, but is finally getting the recognition he deserves now. This music video also reflects his goofy and creative sides.
Armaan Yadav x Lojal ‘Hot Shi*’
New Delhi rapper Armaan Yadav joins force with Manipur-born singer-songwriter Martin J. Haokip, otherwise known as Lojal, to release ‘Hot Shi*,’ and what can I say? This track is actually some hot shi*!
The two exchange verses with stories about their upbringing, the present, and how positive they feel about the future over an ominous beat produced by Atlanta-based producer Chxse Bank.
The Lo-Fi and Old-School drums give ‘Hot Shi*’ a soulful vibe. Yadav’s verse is nostalgic and melodic yet keeps the bars tight. Lojal vibes in a different way with his unique and unforgettable flow to make a really intriguing track. The mood of the track is minimal and subtle, but gives off that positive vibe that we all need.
Slodown ‘Me & Mrs. Wong’
File under soulful and laidback groover. New York City-based Singaporean artist Slodown’s single, ‘Me & Mrs. Wong,’ featuring Korean-American rapper Dumbfoundead is a smooth and sultry track that is produced by Faby Beats and the Singaporean artist himself.
The track plays on Billy Paul’s Soul classic, ‘Me and Mrs Jones,’ and with lyrics and a vibe inspired by Wong Kar Wai’s classic film In the Mood for Love, this one hits all the marks for me.
The story is about forbidden love in an extramarital affair but with a modern twist to it. With Slo’s smooth and sultry delivery, plus Dumbfoundead’s matter-of-fact playa bars, the song comes together nicely and is soothing for the ears.
‘MESS’ by JUBEE and HIYADAM
Japanese rapper JUBEE linked up with HIYADAM for an uptempo, Drum & Bass-tinged track ‘Mess.’ The mile-a-minute track was produced by Yohji Igarashi and written by JUBEE, part of the Rave Racers, and HIYADAM, and released via Manhattan Records.
Incorporating elements of Russian Hardbass with a brittle bassline that matches the frenetic tempo, the track is a beautiful crazy mess by incorporating raging Rave vibes with Hip Hop. With JUBEE and HIYADAM flowing over the hardcore beat, the track is refreshing and is definitely a nice surprise!
The music video, directed by Nasty Men$ah, is a simple set in a warehouse with the two rappers at a table indulging spaghetti and cereal [you can’t really go wrong with this combination] to the Drum & Bass beats that match the music’s glitchy and trippy effects nicely.
Wilai x Twopee ‘International Mami’
There’s just something about this Drill beat that made it crawl into my brain and stay there all year. It could be the fact that I’ve got my fingers crossed for an Asian Drill sound to emerge and everyone around the region to jump on it. It could be that Wilai’s seductive voice makes me miss traveling and seeing new places. It could be that Twopee brings it on his verse. Whatever it is, ‘International Mami’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year in any genre.
Taiwan’s Techno and Hip Hop scenes are decidedly contradictory on opposite ends of the spectrum. One is very flashy with bottles poppin’ and lasers everywhere, while the other is dark rooms and sparse beats. That’s why when SOWUT debuted ‘JOY,’ produced by Techno masterminds Diskonnected and Andy Chiu, it was such a revelation. ‘JOY’ is dark corners and leaky pipes, but it also is very Hip Hop to the core, which makes it such a compelling track.