Trends for 2023
LiFTED looks deep into the oracle to predict what will be hot in 2023
We’ve got to admit, 2022 was a lot better than 2020 and 2021. No doubt, but it’s hard to get excited or hopeful about a new year when we are in the middle of a Groundhog Day pandemic and an unjust war that seems to slog on.
But music always helps.
Music has always been what makes everyone forget about the bad stuff in their lives, and today, that’s no exception. There’s more music dropping than ever, and LiFTED is delivering nearly 900 posts per year about Asian Hip Hop and its derivatives. We stay embedded in the scene and talk to the people who make the music, put on the dope events, run the streets, and party like it’s their birthday.
As Hip Hop enters its 50th year of existence, we’ve got some Asian Hip Hop predictions for 2023 that we know will happen, think will happen, and wish to happen.
Check out our 2022 trends article from a year ago to see how things shaped up.
Live shows and music festivals are back and bigger than ever
“Put your motherfunky hands in the air and wave them side to side”
In 2019, this phrase was as played out as Salt Bae’s steaks and the Ice Bucket Challenge, but for two years and some change there were no places around the globe where anyone could put their hands in the air communally. If you attended a show in 2022, then you saw the smiles everyone had as they waited for acts to hit the stage. You felt the friendliness floating through the air. And you vibed the excitement as people, together again finally, put their damn hands in the air, and simply waved them side to side.
As soon as countries opened up, shows and festivals were announced. People were buzzing to buy tickets and get it on. Acts jumped around the stages and rocked it hard with two years of pent-up energy. In 2023, live shows will be more live, and festivals will get bigger. Already, three mega festivals will be lighting up the first quarter of 2023 - Lollapalooza India, Clockenflap in Hong Kong, and Rolling Loud in Thailand.
Thailand is the capital of Asian Hip Hop until April
For a long time, Korea had been the capital of Asian Hip Hop with its extremely successful artists and programs for development. Now, the spaces where Hip Hop was underrepresented for a long time like Vietnam, India, and Thailand are coming up and not looking back. Thailand has had Thaitanium for two decades and a lot of other amazing rappers like Youngohm, 1MILL, and MILLI over the past few years, but 2023 is when things are going to explode.
By bringing over Rolling Loud’s first-ever Hip Hop concert in Asia [the one in Hong Kong that almost happened in 2019 would have been amazing], Thailand is planting its flag in the ground as the home of Hip Hop in Asia. EVERY artist in the region is dying to get on the bill, and every fan wants to see Travis Scott in person. It’s a big move, but after COVID-19, it’s time to make these moves now.
Honorable mention: India
Prabh Deep said, “Hip Hop music is going to be the biggest music by far in India very, very soon” so look out.
Drill coming in hard
Since the late-1990s, Trap music has been blowing up speakers in cars and clubs around the globe. While Trap still has the crown, it’s good to make room for it’s dirty cousin who’s been on a three-day bender - Drill music. From Chicago to the UK to New York and beyond, Drill hangs out at the same tempo as Trap but goes just a little harder and deeper, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for.
Drill has been straight gangster since its inception, but with Asian MCs finally getting on board, it’s going screamo [Filipino MC Nateman], chill [British-Asian MC Premz], and even mainstream [Korean MC Ash-B]. 2023 will definitely be the Year of Drill, but will Asian Drill go large? We hope so!
Asian OGs getting their well-deserved flowers
Joe Flizzow has done it all. The main music in Thailand now is Hip Hop thanks to Thaitanium and OGs like Joey Boy and Gan Core. LMF and 24 Herbs made the Whats Good Music Awards 2022 happen after a lot of struggles because Hong Kong Hip Hop needed it to happen. Over in NYC MC Jin is like a Chinatown Don with a reach all the way to Hong Kong and mainland China. The OGs are now veterans of the music industry and with that comes respect for the elders. Instead of just shouting out the US OGs, Asian MCs, DJs, artists, dancers, or anyone who has been involved in Asian Hip Hop is getting their flowers now.
Asian exports won’t just be pretty boys
For many years now, Asian MCs taken seriously in the US music industry all had pretty-boy good looks and could dance like the Backstreet Boys. Unsurprisingly, they almost all came from K-Pop groups. Now that book has been tossed, because rappers who look like they’ve been around the block a few times [Mongolia’s GINJIN, Thailand’s YOUNGOHM, and India’s DIVINE being prime examples] are the ones on blast. We’re thinking it’s time for the first official export from the streets of Asia.
Female MCs are the future
Women can rap, we already know that. But Hip Hop is still a male-dominated sport with an occasional female sprinkled in for fun. Now, Asian female rappers are the future with Filipina MC Alex Bruce starting to rap when she was four, Mrs M rhyming in Mongolian and English with ease and Indonesia’s RAMENGVRL being one of the most creative voices in Asian Hip Hop.
Brand Sponsorship will focus on Asian rappers
Want to sell some clothes in Vietnam? Get Den Vau or GERDNANG. Want to sell some cell phones in Cambodia? Call up VannDa. Want to sell every single thing in a convenience store in Taiwan? E.So is the man for the job. As Hip Hop gets bigger and bigger each year, MCs are becoming normalized as spokespeople for brands and will be the biggest stars in every country very soon.
The Trap house look has had a good long run. But skinny jeans? Get off the pipe, son. Let those hems out, yo. 2023 is the year that baggy comes back in a big way. Look out for JNCO pants, hockey sweaters, and cargo shorts with too many pockets at all the Hip Hop shows this year. We’re not calling for a return to the Daisy Age, but we’re happy to say sayonara to jeggings.
Dance Dance Dance all the way to the Olympics [with a stop at the Asian Games]
Red Bull’s BC One, Freestyle Sessions, and BOTY are all great events that have pushed breaking and BBoy culture further and further. But nothing compares to what being an official sport at the 2024 Olympics is going to do. Most Asian countries will be picking their dancers in 2023 so they have two full years of practice before Paris 2024. The big one to watch will be the 19th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China in late-September and early-October 2023. The breaking event there will be Olympic-like, so dancers will feel the stress and learn to survive and thrive in international competition.
AI text-to-image generators will evolve and become more clever
If we type in Jay Park in front of a pixelated image of Jay Chou, this is what happens:
While it’s not quite there yet, AI came on strong in 2022, and over the next few years, we will see the art world revolutionized with text-to-image generators. You heard it here first!
*All images in this article were generated with AI-to-Image software.