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88rising: Defining the East in the West

By: Leon Zhi Wei Chen

Head in the Clouds 2021 is just around the corner, where the weekend following Halloween will be filled with popular Asian music artists from around the world, all gathered to perform in one place, one time. Featuring big names such as NIKI, Rich Brian, Joji, and newcomers Atarashi Gakko and Warren Hue, Head in the Clouds is truly a festival that encompasses and propels. Asian talent. 88rising became more than a record label, they are now a significant part of Asian-American culture, constantly promoting and defining it with the aid of its artists.

Photo Source: Rolling Stone

The company was not immediately successful, though garnering a lot of support for the cultural and racial values it held, there was no headliner backing their brand name yet. One of the artists to change the game for 88rising was Kris Wu. Originally a pop star and actor from China, he was already extremely successful and constantly flooded by fans, except for the United States which he hoped for due to his love for the NBA and rap culture.

To the luck of both Wu and 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro, Travis Scott was on board the moment Wu called him due to his fame from his acting career. “Deserve” was the result of the collaboration between Scott and Wu, an instant hit thanks to Scott’s pre-existing reputation in the rap game.

Though Wu is not the only person who was striving for global stardom in the Hip-Hop game as an Asian. Rich Brian is an internet phenomenon from Indonesia, a homeschooled American culture consuming youtube music artist that seamlessly transferred into the music industry. Higher Brothers consists of four members from China who took the world by storm with their song “Made in China”, which got collaborations with Famous Dex and DJ Snake. With the rap game slowly having established figures who are Asian, as Miyashiro best put it, “now you can really be f*ckin’ anything.”

Now with the introduction of pop and RnB music artists like BIBI, Audrey Nuna, Keshi, and more, 88rising has become a home for many breakthrough artists. Along with the recent collaborative album recorded for Marvel’s Shang Chi Legend of the Ten Rings, 88rising has laid a strong foundation in the industry for themselves and future Asian-owned companies to succeed.


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