Trends for 2022
LiFTED’s predictions for Asian Hip Hop in 2022 & beyond
“Prediction is difficult, especially when it involves the future” - Mark Twain
Predicting anything, especially in these unstable Omicron COVID-19 times, is probably not the smartest thing we can do. But we’ve been on top of the Asian Hip Hop game, its fans, and the vibes for the past year - so here’s what we think will be poppin’ in 2022 and beyond.
And like they say, the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
LOCALIZATION OF HIP HOP
The recent rise of Hip Hop across Asia has been nothing short of a big bang event – a zeitgeist that has happened simultaneously in every country across the region. Fueled by hard work by certain OGs in certain markets over the years, Asian Hip Hop was once the domain of super Indie rappers and DJs who were primarily attempting to copy their Western heroes, and often in English. Then an interesting thing happened - Hip Hop became a lifestyle choice.
Certainly, the Rap of China was a seismic event, where Hip Hop culture blew up in Mandarin and local dialects so fast that it even alarmed the government. At the same time, rappers like DIVINE in India ditched English and decided to try rhyming in slang-infested Hindi – suddenly striking a nerve with his ‘Gully Rap’ style and becoming a ghetto superstar in the process, with millions of streams and YouTube views and even a Bollywood film about his story.
Copycat Rap of Chinas popped up in 2019 in most major media markets across Asia, each spawning stars and wannabe stars. The same kids who all wanted to be DJs 10 years ago now wanted to be rappers - boys and girls alike. If we had to pick one unifying characteristic between all of the now-flowering Hip Hop scenes across Asia it would be the localization of the culture. Suddenly it became cool to rhyme in Hindi, Khmer, Bahasa, and Mongolian. And each country now has its own massive stars rhyming about things that matter to them and in their own language.
Just like Hip Hop in the 1980s in New York City, Asian rappers are informing their audiences about topics besides the usual bling bling and boasting (but there’s plenty of that too). The OGs who put in the early work in places like Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan have watched with amazement as their local scenes caught fire, with new rappers minted daily who are making more money than they ever did. No one is complaining, though, because timing is everything.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN MARGINALIZED FROM HIP HOP FOR YEARS WILL BE TAKING OVER
We don’t know if these artists will be at the forefront, but we do know they’ll be visible and loud, and taking zero shorts! Not only did we see lots of compelling and dynamic Hip Hop from female MCs this year [Mrs M / Pyra / RAMENGVRL / AWICH / YAYOI DAIMON to name a few], but rappers from the fringes also made a lot of noise. Disabled comedian Dani Aditya switched from comedy to Hip Hop and put out a dope track. Lil Nas X is inspiring every letter of the LGBTQI community to rap, and now we’ve had some great music dropping from Thailand’s SUGXR BVBBLE, South Korea’s Do Ha Se, and Hong Kong’s G3SHA. This is just the beginning, as Hip Hop is finally starting to become more inclusive to those that it marginalized and ridiculed before.
BREAKDANCING WILL BE EVERYWHERE
Breakdancing is already wildly popular in every corner of Asia, but its visibility will skyrocket before the 2024 Olympics in Paris as this will be the first time that breaking will be an Olympic sport. Kids who are trying to make the Olympic teams will be trailed by videographers day in and day out as they compete in events, tournaments, and qualifiers.
Normal people will learn terms like up rocking, cyphers, and footwork, and winning prestigious titles in the Red Bull BC One or the Battle of the Year will become even more significant. Advertisers will be turning on their cash faucets for B-boys and B-girls all around Asia, so expect to see them on billboards and magazines everywhere.
LIVE SHOWS COMBINED WITH AT-HOME STREAMING IN THE METAVERSE AND NFTS
During the pandemic, many artists and performers dipped their toes into online streaming. As popular as this was, fans quickly found out that it’s nearly impossible to replace the experience of going out for live events. With the metaverse and NFTs blowing up in the last few months, 2022 is the perfect year to be the launchpad for virtual musical events.
Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has announced its big plans for the metaverse, which is a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and streaming that allows users to virtually participate in events. 2022 could be the beginning of virtual concerts and festivals becoming the new normal for artists across Asia.
BASS-HEAVY DANCE RAP CONTINUES TO RULE THANKS TO TIKTOK
Whether you like it or not, Tik Tok is bigger than ever. According to recent studies, Tik Tok has surpassed YouTube in the US and the UK in average viewing times and is likely to expand even further. To get a piece of the pie, artists and producers have been prone to produce tracks with a catchy beat and danceable choruses that are likely to go viral accompanied by Tik Tok dances or challenges. That being said, we can expect producers, beatmakers, and MCs to create music that focuses more on the Tik Tok audience.
When first starting out, many MCs join crews so that they can cypher and someone will have their backs wherever they go. It usually goes haywire at some point when crews get popular as record labels only want the ‘star’ to be signed. But recently, as Vietnam’s Rapital, Malaysia’s FORCEPARKBOIS, and the Filipino crew 1096 Gang have shown, there is power in numbers.
Plus, making music and videos with your friends is fun. Then everyone in the crew shares and reposts the videos and it’s a win-win. If things go viral everyone in the crew gets more followers and it’s a win-win-win.
ASIAN HIP HOP INVADING THE SILVER SCREEN
Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings was a huge breakthrough last year as it was one of the biggest movies of 2021. A bunch of tracks by Asian rappers made it to Hollywood last year. (Fast and Furious, The Warrior TV show). We know Rich Brain is doing a movie, Twopee from Thailand is starring in a Netflix movie. Studios like Marvel are really pushing their diversity agenda by recruiting Asian talent. Plus all this hype for live-action anime like One Piece/ Gundam being made, so it only makes sense that we see more Asian rappers trending on the silver screen.
LIGHT-HEARTED HIP HOP RETURNS
In the early 2000s, three comedy nerds and childhood friends Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone formed The Lonely Island, a comedy trio where they turn silly puns/comedy skits into Rap music. To everyone’s surprise, this pseudo-Rap group blew up and even made some very memorable SNL skits like ‘Dick in a Box’ or ‘I’m on a Boat.’
Fast forward 20 years later and the world is essentially a burning hellhole [but in lockdown] and in desperate times like these, it seems comedic Rap is making a comeback. In 2021 we noticed a surge of funny Rap songs and music videos from the likes of Miyachi, MILLI and others. So we look forward to more of this to distract our attention from the destruction of the pandemic and the often bone-headed responses from our governments as everyone just tries to stay sane.