Thailand is home to one of Southeast Asia’s flourishing and most illustrious hip hop scenes. With its growing commercial success and deep themes of social awareness, hip hop’s influence is undeniable in Thai society.
We’ve previously curated a list of hip hop and R&B artists to check out from Nepal and Cambodia, this time we’re heading to Thailand. And while this list does not in any way capture the full extent of talent in the country, it’s a starter list for those who may want to explore the local hip hop (and R&B) scene.
In no particular order, here are 10 Thai hip hop and R&B artists to check out, featuring F.HERO, 1MILL, MILLI, YOUNGOHM, FIIXD, Thaitanium, Twopee, Tsunari, Rap Against Dictatorship, and SARAN.
Trap has found a foothold in Thailand and one of its most distinguished practitioners is young rapper 1MILL. With music all wrapped up in good fun, easygoing swagger, and natural confidence; 1MILL is undoubtedly a rising star in the game.
His track from last year, “Price Tag,” landed on our 20 Best Songs of 2021. Lex Celera wrote, “‘Price Tag, stripped to its core elements, defines the direction of NGU 2, and in a greater sense, 1MILL as an artist. You can hear the stylistic leanings he has built on and the direction he is going: syrupy melodies trade turns with catchy rhymes over an insistent bass…The beat coasts in your ear; you can listen to this for hours.”
Hip hop heavyweight F.HERO is a fixture in the local hip hop industry. With a career spanning nearly two decades, his contributions as a rap virtuoso have elevated Thai hip hop and paved for its eventual mainstream success. At present, he’s not only managed to expand his repertoire, including establishing rap label High Cloud Entertainment and serving as a judge on rap survival show THE RAPPER 2.
He’s also responsible for forging historical collaborations with international artists such as Cambodia’s VannDa, Thai rapper and K-pop superstar Bambam of GOT7, and rising superstars (who have also made this list) 1MILL and MILLI.
Arguably the face of Gen Z hip hop in Thailand, singer and rapper MILLI is making history. Just a few weeks ago, she made her Coachella debut (and became responsible for boosting the sales of local dessert mango sticky rice, which she ate on stage), thus becoming the first solo Thai artist to perform at the famed music festival.
She’s also managed to collaborate with a member of one of her favorite K-pop groups, and be named as one of GQ’s 2021 Voices of the Future list. Known for her outspokenness and conviction in her values, she ran into an issue with the Thai government for criticizing their COVID-19 response in July 2021.
MILLI’s knack for the unconventional has made her a pioneer, and the embodiment of a new kind of Gen Z star. And she only gained all this attention in 2020 after her breakout single, “พักก่อน,” (Pakkorn/You Need to Calm Down) went viral. It goes without saying that the star is set for an exciting career.
YOUNGOHM’s influence as an artist has reached astronomical heights in the country. The young rapper is a formidable voice in the genre, crafting music that not only serves as a mirror to the realities of contemporary Thai society—but also as a lens to the past.
His music is characterized by stirring calls to action, high-energy flows, and a thoughtful, freewheeling approach to artistry from the visual to the conceptual. By any measure, YOUNGOHM is an undeniably talented rapper whose career is only projected to bloom in the years to come.
Another THE RAPPER alum, FIIXD is another rapper who has amassed an impressive following of dedicated fans who resonate with the artist’s music. Honest, contemplative, and raw, FIIXD’s discography endlessly explores such themes relating to success, while drawing on more introspective sides to his artistic journey.
Another pioneer act that innovated the Thai hip hop industry is Thaitanium. The Thai-American hip hop group foresaw what would be one of the leading subgenres and cultures in the country, and is a household name in Thailand today. Consisting of members Khanngoen “Khan” Nuanual, Nay Myo “Day” Thant, Big Calo, DJ Buddah, J-Roc, and Daboyway; the group first made waves in the early 2000s and remains active to this day, with the members also successfully launching solo careers.
Producing albums between the United States and Thailand, Thaitanium’s albums earned them global recognition and garnered success throughout Asia. Thaitanium was at the forefront of Thailand’s budding hip hop scene in the early aughts with their groundbreaking production and lyrical tenacity—rivaling many other Asian counterparts at the present.
Rapper, producer, and actor Twopee first rose to fame as one-half of rap duo Southside before eventually branching out as a solo artist and becoming a household name in Thailand as a contestant on THE RAPPER.
Now, the artist has made a name for himself as a force to be reckoned with in the cutthroat scene. Renowned for not only his musical feats, but his personal style, and inventiveness, Twopee proves that despite beginning as an outsider, hip hop celebrates the grit and the will to succeed.
As a biracial young girl embarking on her creative journey throughout her career, Tsunari is not a creature of conformity. The Thai-Trinidadian rapper, singer, and songwriter who grew up in Korat, Thailand has grown up accustomed to the challenges of feeling vastly different, and often isolated. Thus, the artist’s musical ethos is rooted in a commitment to self-empowerment.
Though the challenges of racism and discrimination are not ones to be celebrated, the artist’s resolve to redefine the limits which were previously thought to have shaped her is a cause for celebration on their own.
Arguably heralded as Thailand’s young king of hip hop, the teenage rapper SARAN is representative of the genre’s place for the newer generation today. Like all other new music, SARAN’s discography is colored by trap and electronic influences while exploring themes of lavishness or unapologetic opulence. All in good fun, SARAN’s music might just be the entry point you need to understand the appeal and potential of hip hop in an arguably conservative society.
10. Rap Against Dictatorship
The group Rap Against Dictatorship has long faced intimidation from the state for their bold stances against the Thai government’s alleged corruption, among other things. Embedded in the DNA of the group’s approach to music is taking public officials to task.
With a fearlessness that incites dissent as not disruptive but necessary for change, the group challenges ideas of nationhood, reform, and peace. Despite attempts of silencing them through censorship or government crackdowns, Rap Against Dictatorship stays true to the fundamental spirit of hip hop as a medium that allows the oppressed to air out grievances while serving as a vehicle of true change.
Header image: Artist photos courtesy of F.HERO, 1MILL, MILLI, YOUNGOHM, FIIXD, Thaitanium, Twopee, Tsunari, Rap Against Dictatorship, and SARAN via Instagram.