A growing number of Asian artists have burst onto the hip-hop scene over the past few years, thanks, in large part, to 88rising—a multimedia company that specializes in signing and amplifying Asian talent. Founder Sean Miyashiro has helped artists like Joji, Higher Brothers, and Rich Brian (formerly known as Rich Chigga) build massive followings and net millions of views on YouTube, where the rappers upload a steady stream of music videos. But even as their popularity skyrockets, some in the hip-hop community take issue with their lyrics—raising questions about the line between self-expression and cultural appropriation.
For this episode of MINORITY REPORTS, VICE’s Lee Adams met up with Miyashiro and a handful of high-profile Asian rappers—including $tupid Young, an Asian Crip unaffiliated with 88rising—to hear why they got into hip-hop, and what challenges they’ve faced while creating space for themselves as hip-hop’s newest minorities. He also sat down with Ebro Darden—a Hot 97 morning host and Apple Music’s global editorial head of hip-hop and R&B—to hear his take on the cultural movement, exploring what separates contributing to hip-hop culture from misappropriating it.
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