In 2016, 88Rising a media platform which has since its debut garnered a reputation for unearthing some of Asia’s most classed-up hip hop acts (Rich Chigga from Indonesia, Keith Ape from Korea) introduced a new group to their bad-ass posse: a motley crew of Chinese natives who call themselves the Higher Brothers. Upon releasing a couple of tracks, the Higher Brothers’ style of East-meets-West hip hop started to catch the attention of Western viewers worldwide, amassing millions of views apiece.
While many a Mandarin-speaking pop star has tried, struggled and ultimately been unsuccessful in truly entering the Western music market, the Higher Brothers have thus far done the unthinkable, taking the internet by storm with Chinese language rap that has little packaging to soothe ethnocentric naysayers. Instead, the group, dubbed the first to make it past the ‘Great Firewall of China’ derive inspiration from their modern Chinese upbringing; mixing it with Western style hip-hop of the highest quality to create pure, unadulterated good hip hop. I chatted with the group in lieu of their appearance at Hong Kong’s Clockenflap festival in November this year about their rise to internet stardom, and how it all began.
1. Last year, Higher Brothers were featured on American music platform 88Rising, and quickly shot to international acclaim. Did you ever think that something like this would happen?
A: Can’t say we expected it at all, we can only say we’ve imagined it.
2. Although a lot of people know who Higher Brothers are, less know about your background. How did you guys meet?
A: The four of us joined Chengdu’s rap club, and afterwards stayed in the studio. Then we began to make a lot of music, that’s how this all started.
3. 88Rising was the platform that brought Higher Brothers to international attention. How did they discover you?
A: At a party Howie Lee put on our music and someone from 88rising heard it and asked for our email. From there we began communicating.
4. Your music incorporates elements of Eastern culture such as Wechat and 7-11, but follows Western techniques. How did you come up with this style?
A: We like Western music but lead Eastern culture-influenced lives, this is how our music organically was created.