88rising: East Asia’s Bridge to Western Hip Hop

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The Higher Brothers, a rap outfit based out of Chengdu, China

Hip hop is, generally speaking, an American genre. The fact is, the biggest faces in hip hop tend to hail from New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. However, one multimedia outlet is shifting that axis into new lands, filled with new voices and sounds that threaten to flip the genre on its head.

88rising is a multimedia organization and record label based in NYC with offices in Los Angeles and Shanghai. Founded in 2015 by Sean Miyashiro, it’s goal is to offer a platform for rappers, singers, and producers from East Asia find their place among the rap kingdom’s reigning monarchs. The company has brought in already popular names in hip hop and R&B such as Joji, Keith Ape, and Rich Brian, as well as some fresh faces that have seen immense success on the platform.

Structurally, the organization is a sort of all-in-one package, acting as a management, marketing, and video production company as well as a record label. Having all their bases covered helps artists thrive under the ideal conditions that 88rising offers them.

Where 88rising excels is gaining attention stateside; Not only from an audience, but from other musical acts. Many of 88’s artists are no strangers to collaboration with the likes of Ski Mask the Slump God, Trippie Redd, Migos, 21 Savage, and the late XXXTentacion.

Rich Brian, an Indonesian born rapper signed under 88rising (via HipHopDX)

No matter the accomplishments under 88’s belt over their short lifespan, whether the platform will sink or swim lies entirely in whether they’ll be accepted by the American audience. Should they stay afloat, however, it does beg the question whether similar groups will spring up in other corners of the globe. If what East Asia brings to the table soundwise pleases an American and international audience, it could herald a new chapter in hip hop’s history as a genre, as well as open the door wider for organizations and artists in other corners of the globe to put themselves out to a different audience.