Straight outta… Asia?

What comes to mind when you think of Asian rappers? Is it the dark, mumble rap of Rich Chigga, Keith Ape’s Korean screamo-esque ballads or Honey Cocaine’s traditional rap style reminiscent of Tyga’s prime? Whatever the thought may be, Asian rappers have always been tied to controversy and apprehension in the rap industry.

In the case of Sochitta Sal, the female Cambodian rapper known to many as Honey Cocaine and on Twitter as @QueenHoneyC, came under fire for her use of the n-word in her song “Feel Sh*t.” As an outspoken and unapologetic artist, she has not yet addressed these complaints and concerns. She first rose to fame when she signed to Last Kings Entertainment. Early in her career, Honey C and her business partner, rapper Tyga, were shot at while leaving one of the star’s “Rack City” concerts. Since then, Honey C and Tyga have maintained a close relationship and have produced numerous collaborative tracks together.

The newest of the three rappers, Brian Immanuel, also known as Rich Chigga, just turned eighteen this past September. In his hilarious music video featuring his breakthrough song, “Dat $tick,” Chigga is seen strolling around in his pink polo shirt, pouring cognac onto the streets of an unnamed suburban neighborhood. Like Honey C, the song has received backlash for the use of the n-word. In response to the criticism, Chigga recalls that “[he] was basically just trying to make people less sensitive to the word and take the power out of the word, but then [he] realized [he’s] totally not in a position to do that.” Controversy aside, Chigga maintains a strong fanbase with over three million monthly listeners on Spotify. One of those listeners, Paly senior Eric He, embraces Chigga’s authenticity and humble upbringing. “I really respect that before ‘Gospel’ and all his recent collaborations with big artists, when he came out with ‘Dat $tick,’ he was just some boy from Indonesia… Now he’s performing all over the U.S.”

Another well known Asian rapper, Dongheon Lee, is a 23 year old South Korean rapper known to millions as Keith Ape. Ape skyrocketed to fame after his collaboration with Waka Flocka Flame and A$AP Rocky on the song “It G Ma.” Ape’s music has been heralded and criticized for its rowdiness. Although most of the song is in Korean, there is no lack of enthusiasm from people of all backgrounds when the first four notes of the head-banging track are heard. “Personally, I don’t understand a thing he says,” He said. “But it’s a slap.”

Recently there has been a larger Asian presence in the rap industry; not only with these three artists, but also managing companies that focus on Asian rappers such as 88Rising and The Higher Brothers. Their integration and adaption to the trap frenzy has been met with undeniable controversy, but more importantly, acceptance. Moving forward, we can expect a more diverse group of rappers to appear under the trap and rap radar, offering a fresh perspective on rap music.