In the past month, we’ve seen a number of significant comebacks, landmark achievements, and brand-new hip hop albums from Asian musicians. The Filipino pop group SB19 was just chosen by Teen Vogue as one of their favorite boy bands of all time. Only SB19 was the Filipino band included in the final roster of 33 bands representing a wide variety of musical styles.
This was followed on July 27 by the release of Grown Ass Kid, a five-song EP by South Korean rapper ZICO, marking his long-awaited homecoming after completing mandatory military duty. He had already debuted the EP’s lead track, “SEOUL DRIFT.”
In addition, Cambodian rapper VannDa announced a tour in support of his new album, SKULL 2 (Season 1). In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX Asia, VannDa got candid about his evolution as a musician and his aspiration to take Khmer music worldwide.
Check out more best music from this year so far:
NewJeans – “(뉴진스) Hurt”
Fresh off the success of their debut music video for “Attention,” Korean girl group NewJeans have unveiled their new R&B single, “Hurt,” along with a music video that focuses on close-ups and a hazy, dreamlike atmosphere.
The five-member group consists of Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein. Last August 1, independent label ADOR under HYBE debuted the group with their first EP, New Jeans, which consists of four tracks, including “Hurt.”
WILYWNKA ft. Leon Fanourakis – “Super Cypher”
On July 15, Japanese rapper WILYWNKA and Japanese-Greek-Korean hip hop artist Leon Fanourakis released their collaborative rap single titled “Super Cypher.” The music video showed the two artists strolling through a virtual environment. The song is featured on WILYWNKA’s third studio album, COUNTER. The artist is also set to hold his first ZEPP Tour this August.
YB NEET & CK YG – “META”
Filipino rappers YB NEET and CK YG linked up for their joint single, “META.” The song talks about camaraderie and braving through life with lyrics such as, “Babalikan ko ‘yung mga tunay / musika ay isinabuhay / nakahandang mamatay para sa mga taong kasama ko na humuhukay” (I will come back to those who are real / who embodied music / ready to die for those like me who are struggling).
JAEYOUNG – “OBNOXIOUS”
Korean-American rapper JL, real name JAEYOUNG, is back with a new track called “OBNOXIOUS,” which was released on July 23. The artist is part of the hip hop duo Year of the OX, along with rapper Lyricks. The duo pride themselves on music that empowers and showcases Asian culture. They teased new music on their Instagram page last March, following JAEYOUNG’s self-produced track reimagining the Squid Game, which was made available on SoundCloud.
Hideyoshi ft. Jin Dogg – “Euphoria”
Last July 29, Japanese rapper Hideyoshi released the music video for his song “Euphoria” ft. Jin Dogg. The video was set in an abandoned theme park, where the rapper could be seen carrying out his wildest imaginations before everything fades away. The track was originally released last May as part of his 14-track first full-length album Resurrection, which included collaborations with artists AKLO, YZERR, Benjazzy, and more.
Ghetto Gecko ft. Kidd Razcal – “Crochet”
Filipino rapper Ghetto Gecko of 1096 Gang premiered the music video for his song “Crochet” ft. Kidd Razcal last July 20. The track depicts street life that complemented lyrics about standing strong when faced with the burdens of life. The lyrics goes, “Wag ka nang magpatuloy kung kalooban mahina, ang buhay namin dito parang giyera sa Maynila” (Don’t keep going if you are weak / life here is like a war in Manila). “Crochet” is part of Ghetto Gecko’s latest album Ahhh!!!, which consists of 10 tracks and was released last May 13.
Palos ft. JMara – “PADALE”
The one-take video featured the artists rapping on the streets with commuters lined up in the background. The title “PADALE” roughly translates to “Got Tricked” and gives a nod to the daily lives of workers enhanced by lyrics that spoke about the difficult task of seeking out the truth amidst all the lies and deception in society.
1MILL ft. VEMLYIE – “Want It Take It”
Last July 8, Thai rapper 1MILL released his digital single “Want It Take It” ft. VEMLYIE. This upbeat song follows the release of the 20-year-old rapper’s 10-track third album, ONLY1! last March 22. His latest release is the single “SEXDRUGSMONEY!,” a collaboration with Tanboymiguel and Cult Shφtta.
Header image: All artist screenshots from YouTube