Top 8 Asian Artists of 2020
Racial representation in the entertainment industry has been a hot topic for a few years now. Today, we are going to focus on the rise of Asians in the music scene and how labels like 88rising has raised the bar for Asian Representation. Artists like Joji and BTS has made history by breaking records and topping charts - proving the growth and success of Asians in the music industry.
From Hiphop and R&B to Kpop, I've compiled a list of Asian musicians that you should look out for and listen to.
1. Rina Sawayama
Rina Sawayama, a Japanese-born British singer and songwriter has been gaining immense popularity for her wild collision of 2000's pop and nu-metal. She currently has one EP 'Rina' and one studio album 'Sawayama'. Both has been widely beloved and well-received by critics and fans. Her songs explores heavy topics such as her parents' divorce and her identity as a Japanese British person.
Mitski, also known as Mitski Miyawaki, is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter. Known for her catchy and volatile indie rock music, she has built a solid following in the indie rock scene. The fusion of her mysterious yet calming vocals and the heavy instrumentals have received rave reviews, especially her latest and 5th album - 'Be the Cowboy'. Topics such as self-alienation, insecurities and growing old are some of the common themes in her songs.
Joji, the rising star of music label 88rising, has broken records and topping Billboard charts at Number 1 with his album - 'Ballads 1'. Joji's music is extremely popular among the younger generation and has been described as a blend of R&B, lo-fi and trip-hop with elements of melancholy and soul. His songs are mostly centered around the ups and downs of love - whether it was about another person or himself.
4. Rich Brian
Another star from 88rising is rapper Rich Brian, also known as Brian Immanuel. The Indonesian rapper became the first Asian to top the iTunes hip-hop chart with this debut album, Amen. Last year, the 21-year-old rapper released his second studio album - 'The Sailor' which took a different turn from the fun and witty album 'Amen'. In 'The Sailor', we see the growth of Brian not just as an artist but also as a person. It takes on mature and melancholy themes as he reflects on his journey away from home.
R&B singer, Nicole Zefanya also known as Niki, followed the footsteps of fellow labelmate, Rich Brian, by climbing on the U.S charts in the R&B section. She serves as the female face of 88rising and has release 2 Eps so far - 'Zephyr' and 'wanna take this downtown?'. In the coming month of September, she is going to release her first studio album entitled 'Moonchild'.
6. Lexie Liu
Lexie Liu is a Chinese singer, rapper and songwriter. A big fan of sci-fi and cyberpunk, Liu centers her songs around the themes inspired by the film 'Blade Runner'. Her album '2030' evokes futuristic and dream-like sounds, coupled with blends of Chinese and Western instrumentals.
Four-man Korean indie rock band, Hyukoh, has been causing a sensation in the Korean indie scene these past few years. Their songs - 'Comes and Goes' , 'Wi ing Wi ing' and 'TOMBOY' - have been a breath of fresh air in Korea where K-pop heavily dominates the music industry. Their dreamy tone and music reminiscent of the 90s indie rock bands have been very well received in Korea, with their shows being sold out in Seoul and their songs shooting to the top spots on every South Korean music chart.
Sunmi, an ex-member of South Korean girl group Wonder Girls, now turned solo-ist have been thriving in the spotlight in the Korean music world. What makes Sunmi different from the mainstream Kpop sound are her jazzy beats, sensual guitar riffs and delicate voice. Many have found her repertoire heavily inspired by 80's Japanese city pop, especially with the song - 'Black Pearl'. According to Billboard, Sunmi is the only female solo-ist to have 5 songs charting on the top 5 music charts.
Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.