5 Asian Musicians To Listen To Now!

The Grammys, Oscars, and other awards ceremonies have all come under fire lately for their lack of diversity. In Australia, despite the fact that we live in the Asia-Pacific, very little is known about Asian music. Few Asian artists ever make it into the mainstream here, let alone into popular music charts. If you’re keen to broaden your knowledge of Asian music and listen to some tunes you may not have heard before, check out the five musicians I’ve reviewed below.

1. Zico
At just 24, Woo Ji Ho – better known as Zico – is a fearless leader of Korea’s hip hop music industry. Starting out as an accomplished rapper in Seoul’s underground scene, Zico has in recent years exploded onto Korea’s mainstream music charts as the leader of the K-Pop unit Block B. Block B have done several US and Asia tours and topped charts consecutively. As a solo artist Zico has collaborated with the likes of Jay Park and AOMG, Paolo Alto, MINO, CRUSH, Zion T, and received international attention for his songwriting and production. Some of his biggest hits include HER, Fear, and I am you, you are me, from his latest MP which also landed him a feature on Dazed and Confused. Other songs to listen to include:
– Turtle Ship
– Okey Dokey
– Oh Jackpot
– Veni Vidi Vici

2. G Dragon
When talking about Asian names in music, G Dragon is a no-brainer. Perhaps one of the biggest celebrities in Asia – if not the world – G Dragon has an overwhelming following of over 3 million on Instagram, and an enormous international fan base. Finding his start in the intensely successful K-Pop group BIGBANG, G Dragon has since branched out to work with big artists in both the Asian and Western industry. Missy Elliot was featured on his solo EP, and US producer Diplo, who has recently risen to fame with the release of What Do You Mean? and Where Are Ü Now? with Justin Bieber, has produced several songs for G Dragon and the two have worked closely in the past 5 years. The hit song Dirty Vibe featured both G Dragon and fellow Korean artist CL – who has just broken onto the American scene with her debut songs Dr Pepper and Hello Bitches. G Dragon is known by celebrities worldwide, and is even close friends with Grimes! He has built a strong bridge between the Asian and Western music industries in his own right. What to listen to:
– Crooked
– Michi GO
– Dirty Vibe
– You Do
– Zutter
– Coup de Ta
– One of a Kind

3. Hyukoh
This band will make its way into your most played list in no time. A small but growing indie rock band from Seoul, Hyukoh has begun to earn its name in both Asian and Western music communities. Their influences stem from the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana, while interestingly incorporating elements of hip hop and 90’s “vaporware” glitch art aesthetics in many of their music videos and fashion concepts. The lead singer of Hyukoh, Oh Hyuk, spent many years as an art student in Beijing, gaining some attention in China before moving back to Seoul to start the band. Their hit songs include Big Bird, Comes and Goes, Hooka, Island, and Panda Bear. Be sure to watch music videos when listening to songs as many of them play a crucial part in the overarching narrative of their songs. Songs to listen to:
– Panda Bear
– Bowling
– Island
– Mer
– Comes and Goes
– Hooka
– Big Bird
– Wi ing wi ing
– Parachute

4. Keith Ape
The rise of Trap music has become something of a hot topic this past year. If you’ve heard people at clubs shouting “it g MA” and “underwater SQUAD” you have the dangerous Keith Ape to thank. Recently featured in a mini documentary on VICE magazine’s music column Noisey, Keith Ape has made his mark on the international music scene, pioneering a new genre of Asia-centric hip hop culture. Shirts with Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters are becoming popular in urban skate/hip hop fashion culture and Asian hip hop is growing in appeal. Keith Ape works with his crew of rappers, the underwater squad, and big names in rap/trap such as Japanese rapper Kohh, cjamm, Dumbfounded and more. He has collaborated with Western artists including Denzel Curry, A$AP Ferg and Waka Flocka Flame. His biggest hits include It G Ma and Vigorous.

5. Young, Patient
Based in Canberra and Sydney, Young, Patient is a Chinese-Australian singer, songwriter/producer and rapper. She has collaborated with other local talents such as the Sydney-based producer 2two1 and Taka Perry. With ambitions to open up Asian music to the Australian market, she regularly covers Korean music along with popular western songs on her YouTube channel “Young, Patient,” and incorporates Chinese with English in many of her raps. She is also the lead singer of all-girl emo/punk band ampON. Her biggest hits include U MAD, MACHINES, and LIKE ME.

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