LiFTED LiSTS: Worst of 2022
2022 was better than 2021 and 2020, but that bar is really low
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.
Was 2022 better than 2021 and 2020? Unquestionably the world is still a mess, but it’s not the flaming pile of steamed dumplings left out in the sun to rot, infested with bugs, and eaten by rats that it was. AAND…there is a tiny sliver of light coming from far off in the distance. It flickers on and off, but in general, the hope that things are on their way to getting better feels like it is taking hold, especially here in Asia.
Nevertheless, 2022 has had a lot of dreadful moments. From Putin pushing his soldiers into Ukraine while threatening nuclear war to mass shootings seemingly every week, a lot of people will breathe easier when the clock strikes 12 on January 1. For the first LiFTED LiST of 2022, LiFTED takes a look at the Worst of the year, and hopes that history doesn’t repeat itself.
CROWD CRUSH ON HALLOWEEN IN KOREA
This year we finally saw the welcome return of dancefloors, outdoor parties, raves, and the like. Of course, the energy that came with the return of being outside was over the top. You could feel it in the movements of the people around you, dancing and partying together without a care. After two years of being locked in, the outside felt truly glorious.
However, things took a turn for the worst in Itaewon during Halloween when a huge throng of partygoers gathered in South Korea’s capital’s famous nightlife district, for the first celebration of Halloween outside after two years of COVID-related restrictions. It was so rammed that people were soon pushing, shoving, passing out, and getting trampled. Unfortunately, 156 young people died due to the congested conditions. The incident brought all of Korea to a standstill, and flags were flown at half-mast. It truly was a tragic incident, as no lives should be lost during a time of celebration.
Like an unexpected gut punch, the news of Migos rapper Takeoff’s murder at a Houston bowling alley rolled out on Twitter within minutes after it happened with videos of him laying in a pool of blood while Quavo tried to get him help. As disrespectful as that was, it took the police more than a month to arrest Pat Brown for Takeoff’s murder. Debunking some of the inconsistencies in reports, Houston Police Department’s Sergeant Michael Burrow said, “I can tell you Takeoff was not involved in playing the dice game, he was not involved in the argument that happened outside, he was not armed, he was an innocent bystander.”
When you think of fire and clubs, the immediate association would be with its selectors playing FIRE tracks – not actual fires breaking out in the vicinity. Unfortunately, in August, Mountain B, a popular club in Thailand, was set ablaze. Thirteen people lost their lives from it, and 35 were injured. Footage of the nightmare was circulating all over social media, and it was truly tragic.
Although the fires were eventually put out by the fire department, the damage was already done. The safety of patrons should be the absolute priority of any establishment, especially in a setting like this. We hope to never have to write about an incident like this again, and that dancefloors will remain a safe and sacred space for all.
JETS BOMB MYANMAR MUSIC FESTIVAL/JUNTA EXECUTES RAPPER
If there was one place for Asian Hip Hop fans to steer clear of in 2022, it would be Myanmar. For the first time in 30 years, the ruling military junta executed an opponent. Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former rapper who was a member of the National League for Democracy [NLD], was arrested in 2007 for spreading anti-government messages through graffiti. In 2020, he was arrested on trumped-up charges of coordinating an attack on a train that killed five people. He was finally put to death by the military on July 25 to try and scare the population, who’ve been protesting bravely against their draconian rule.
While executing a foe in politics is unforgivable, what the junta did later was even worse. In October, bombs were dropped on a music festival put on by the Kachin Independence Organisation, a group that resists the junta. Artists were actually killed while they were on stage in this atrocity.
RUSSIAN RAPPER COMMITS SUICIDE INSTEAD OF JOINING WAR
“War/What is it good for/Absolutely nothing, come on,” the first words on Edwin Starr’s seminal anti-war crusade ‘War,’ could not be more true right now as Russia invaded Ukraine and is now stuck in a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. When Putin said that all abled-body men must join the attack, Russian rapper Walkie, who had more than two million Spotify streams, committed suicide instead of joining the fight.
As a former member of the Russian army, Walkie knew what it was like and tried to get a deferment not to fight. When he was refused, instead of joining an unjust war, he jumped from a building and left a video for those he left behind. “If you are watching this video, then I am no longer alive. I can't take the sin of murder on my soul and I don't want to. I am not ready to kill for any ideals. I choose to remain in history forever. As a man who did not support what was happening. I am not ready to take up arms and kill my own kind.”
The music industry is always trying to find ways to make hits by people they can control, so FN MEKA looked like a slam dunk. Give the Lil Pump-alike rapper some dreads and a Lambo helicopter, and get him a number-one song. Capitol Records announced they had signed their bad boy avatar FN MEKA, to a record deal, and that’s when things started going downhill.
Not only were fans shocked (they shouldn’t be) that record companies think AIs can make better music than artists, but one-dimensional FN MEKA was also a mischaracterization of what rappers really are. Twitter account Industry Blackout posted about how FN was a just digital effigy that was careless and disrespectful.
Within two hours, FN MEKA was dropped. This was before it came out that the person who was writing the 3D rhymer’s raps also had a shady past using the N-word in his songs. The quest for an easy way to make hits continues…
THE SLAP HEARD AROUND THE WORLD
Will Smith has had some ups and downs in his career, but nothing quite like the slap that caused global reverberations when he put his hands on Chris Rock at the Oscars. The memes were soon coming out a mile a minute, and Will disappeared into the ether to “work on himself.”
Nine months later, Will went on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to chat in his first interview, and cried as he recounted what happened that day saying, “Hurt people hurt people.”
Will the public forgive one of Hollywood’s biggest stars? Will his movies do well at the box office again? And the most pressing question, will Chris Rock forgive the artist formerly known as the Fresh Prince? There are no answers yet, but with his latest offering, the slave movie Emancipation, many people are hoping for a good ending to this story.
When The Game canceled his first-ever concert in Korea at the beginning of October 2022, the Jive-Super Live Festival was not happy about it. For The Game, there were no excuses given and he had just made a ‘hype’ video the week before. But the realities of touring while venues and countries are opening up to try to make back some of that lost money during the pandemic is rough. The virus is still out there. DJs, dancers, MCs, or managers can all easily get a new variant and be out for a week or more just like that. Concert promoters have to book the best they can and hope for the best as we all settle into this uncertain new normal.
Someone must’ve lost their mind with this collaboration. Why take the legendary likes of Wu-Tang and plant their brand onto what is arguably the ugliest footwear ever - Crocs? The potential and cultural relevance it would’ve brought if it had been with Jordans would’ve been mental. Yet, we’re stuck with these wack-ass Crocs that are the ugly cousin of sliders. It didn’t make sense then, and it will never make sense in the future either. We’re leaving Wu-Tang Crocs in 2022. Don’t ever bring it up again.
ALL YE EVERYTHING
While it’s nearly impossible to ignore Ye because he is a man on a mission to steal everyone’s attention, this year was particularly grotesque starting with a very public divorce and ending with some heavy anti-Semitic antics thrown into the mix. Oh yeah, Ye put out an album, too. What was it called again?
After 10 years of madness, the drama of Kim and Kanye ended like a meteor smashing into the Earth as the two were granted a divorce in November. This was only after Ye went to pick up a suitcase with Kim’s alleged sex tape in it, Ye was involved in a claymation murder of Kim’s boyfriend at the time, Pete Davidson, and then he really went off the rails with his anti-semitic ranting and got dropped by all his sponsors. Is that the end? NOPE! Kanye landed a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former president Donald Trump and White supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
[EDIT] This article was written on December 1, the next day Ye said, “I love Hitler” and more hateful nonsense on The Alex Jones Show.
Ye has proven to be delusional and sick, and somebody needs to get him some help in 2023.