Warren Hue is the Boy of the Year
“Hip hop was always my favorite genre because it allows you to storytell”
LiFTED caught up with rising star Warren Hue on his recent Asian trip to do some press for his new album Boy of the Year on 88rising, and more importantly, to visit his hometown of Jakarta. The jet-setting 20-year-old calls Los Angeles home these days, so it must have been nice to get back to the land of nasi goreng and traffic jams. Seriously, there must be something in the water in the JKT because it keeps producing crazy talented music artists, starting with Rich Brian and RAMENGVRL and now Warren Hue. And those are just the ones you’ve heard of.
Warren Hue really has got it going on, and the hype around his new album has been pretty hectic. The tunes are legit and he’s a real one – a smooth combination of singing, rhyming, and 20-year-old idol good looks, plus a genuinely eclectic fashion sense. Like a younger, Asian Harry Styles, but with skills on the mic. We had a lot of questions for him, so let’s get into it.
What’s good, Warren? Thanks for sitting down with us. I know you’re kinda on holiday. You must be happy to be chilling at home with the fam.
Yes, it’s ultimately very relaxing and it was needed for me to take a break after all the madness that occurred over the past eight months I spent in LA. I had a lot of fun but I’m glad I’m back now.
Some of our readers may not be that familiar with you so can you talk a little about how you got started? I know you’ve been at it since about 16, dropping tracks on YouTube. What would you say was your first big breakthrough?
I would say my first big breakthrough was my song ‘YELLOW’ that I dropped in 2018. I was doing a bunch of remixes that got put out on YouTube and SoundCloud but ‘YELLOW’ was the first original song I made and released that popped off everywhere. It was the main realization that I could make a career in music. From there I dropped my first album, ALIEN, and the word kept on expanding and it all happened so fast.
Were you friends with Rich Brian in Jakarta? He started out as Rich Chigga and you started as warrenisyellow. I know you both must be some funny dudes to chill with!
I was actually not! I was definitely inspired by his work when I was like 16-17 and I’m still a fan now. He’s someone I’ve looked up to and became close friends with out in LA. And yes, he is a very enjoyable and funny soul to hang out with.
Tell us about the Hip Hop scene in Jakarta when you were growing up. What kind of music did you want to make when you were 16?
I was definitely into Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator, mixed with some of the rappers that were hot during that era like Uzi, Playboi Carti, and a bunch of other artists. I just wanted to make something that felt satisfying and right to me. Hip Hop was always my favorite genre because it allows you to storytell and creates interesting patterns and cadences with the music. It was always fun to create new worlds with it. I was very much into the idea of album making and creating a new version of yourself in music so that’s what led me to write all these songs.
Tell us about getting discovered by 88rising and that experience. What has been the best part of moving to L.A.? You may be more well known in the US than in Asia. Is that weird?
I was about to go to college in New York, but then COVID hit and I didn’t want to pay for some bullshit online schooling. I wanted to experience the campus itself so I took a gap year. During that gap, 88 contacted me through Instagram DMs and I was like, yes this is the moment where I can focus fully on music and not worry about flying to New York and pursuing something else.
Settling in LA was definitely not easy but 88 has helped me feel comfortable, and I’d say the best part is learning and adapting to what life has to offer now. It’s always weird when I see my analytics cause it is true, my core listeners come from the US and I think that’s mainly because most of my music videos and inspirations come from the US.
Your track ‘Omomo Punk’ is seriously one of the dopest tracks [and videos!] from last year. I love everything about it. How many costume changes were there?
Thank you. I appreciate it. Damn, like about 5-6 changes maybe. It was an insane first music video experience and shoutout to my stylist Shaojun, he helped me piece every outfit together.
You had four of your tracks on the Shang-Chi soundtrack, that’s crazy! What was it like to sit in a theater and hear your tunes in a film?
I didn’t really hear any of my songs in the film but I’m pretty sure I’m on the intro singing a couple of lines. It was insane and I’ve gotten so much more grateful since that experience.
Let’s talk a bit about your new album Boy of the Year. How long did it take you to make the album?
Boy of the Year took me roughly two years of thinking, planning, and revisiting ideas. It started as a completely different project that me and Chasu had worked on already, but since I moved to LA, we captured the full-length vision. It took that long because we were trying to experiment with new sounds and of course having new experiences. I found I had a lot more to say on the project for me to be fully happy and satisfied with it.
At the time of this interview, the only feature is ‘W’ [featuring Yvngxchris] which is dope and has a really trippy video. Are there any more collabs coming up?
I also had a chance to work with Tobi Lou as well on the song 'In My Bag’ and that was a wonderful time. I would love to collab with more artists because right now I think a lot more artists are super fresh with crazy ideas and talent. I’ve been seeing more young artists coming up and it’s great to see that community rising. I'm definitely up for any future collaborations.
Tell us about playing at big festivals in the US like the Coachella takeover. What was the crowd like? Still mostly Asian or really mixed?
I think it was mixed for sure. It was around 120,000 people I think so it was definitely the scariest moment of my life being able to perform my shit in front of that many people. I always look for energy in shows and the intimacy that comes with it, so I had a lot of fun since I like jumping around and doing crazy shit sometimes.
What’s the biggest thing you miss about Indonesia when you’re in LA?
The biggest thing would be family, friends, and food, for sure. Being fresh out of High School definitely had me missing my friends and coming back is always a great reunion and special moment for me. The same with the family who I’m super close with.
What’s in store for you in 2023?
More fashion, more music, and more everything.