Over the weekend, KL Live’s roof was absolutely blown off for two nights in a row, thanks to our good friends from Heineken! On Friday night, legendary electronic music star, Tiesto rocked the stage and reminded fans of why he will always be one of the greatest ever DJ to have graced the scene.
But 24 hours later, the boys from 88 Rising took over KL Live and completely stole the stage with sets that left the crowd wanting for more at the end of it. Joji, Higher Brothers, Rich Chigga and even their resident touring DJ, Don Krez were all present as 88 Rising made their official Malaysian debut. Here are five things we learned from the gig!
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR JOJI
If you’ve checked out Joji’s debut EP – “In Tongues” – you’re probably as mesmerized as we are about the combination of trap sounds with distinct lo-fi vibes in it. But when you consider that this is a guy who has successfully made the transition from being a crude YouTube comedian under the ‘Filthy Frank’ and ‘Pink Guy’ banner to a ‘trap n b’ artist that’s topping iTunes charts, it just gets much better. On stage last weekend, Joji encapsulated it all by showing that he isn’t only great at producing tracks, but he’s also equally capable of enchanting a live crowd with his quirky and original persona on stage. His tracks aren’t only worth listening when you’re driving through the Federal Highway on a rainy evening. They are equally worth listening when you’re all crammed up like a sardine can in a concert venue with him on stage. Word has it that Joji is looking to release several more singles in the months to come and maybe even a new EP next year. After last weekend, we definitely can’t wait for it to come out!
HIGHER BROTHERS WILL GET YOU HIGH
There’s something really surreal about watching a bunch of multiracial Malaysians jumping and going absolutely mad to four Chinese trap rap artists from Chengdu. There was a bit of gap between Joji and Higher Brothers but when the four boys, who decided to name themselves after air-conditioner brand ‘Haier’, show up on stage, the entire crowd completely went berserk. Their songs have a wacky undertone to it – imagine an entire rap album that’s made up of songs like ‘Made in China’, ‘WeChat’, ‘7Eleven’, ‘Room Service’. But their heavy trap beats are constantly at the forefront of their tracks, which never fails to get any crowd hyped up. Multiple rappers have made attempts to breakthrough the Great Wall of China but thanks to 88 Rising’s outstanding work and trap rap’s rise to prominence, the Higher Brothers are well on their way to taking over the mainstream world.
RICH CHIGGA HAS THE CHARISMA TO GO BIG
When Brian Immanuel first broke into the rap scene as Rich Chigga, what captured most people, including the likes of Ghostface Killah, Goldblink and even Cam’ron was just the unique charisma he had in his music video for ‘Dat $tick’. While every rapper who was trying to make it in the United States wanted to wear jumpers, gold chains and pull off the ‘Bronx’ look, Rich Chigga wore a pink polo tee that was nicely tucked into his khaki shorts with a Reebok waist pack around his hips. Last weekend, in the middle of his performance, Rich Chigga decides to engage with his fans in the most Rich Chigga way. What does he do? Throw a scarf? Attempt to crowd surf? Of course not. He decided to offer a bottle of mineral water to one fan. How do you not go far in your career with a persona like that? 2018 is your year, Brian. Time to glow like that.
88 RISING’S ROLE AS A DISRUPTER IN HIP HOP
Would it be an overstatement to suggest that 88 Rising has been the biggest shift in hip hop this year? We’ve had multiple big movements, artists, albums and records emerging throughout 2017 – including Kendrick Lamar’s outstanding work in ‘DAMN’ as well as Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy. But the work 88 Rising has put into growing its brand and the artists they represent has been phenomenal. Less than a year after Rich Chigga broke the internet with ‘Dat $tick’, he performed in the United States for the first time. A few months later, he was back in the States for his very own ‘Come to my Party’ tour. He was then joined by Joji and Higher Brothers for an Asian tour that’s still ongoing. Best part? The entire crew, including Keith Ape, will be hitting the US in February 2018 for a tour that’s destined to change the game. Chinese trap rappers rattling cages in the birth place of hip hop. That’s quite something isn’t it?
WE NEED MORE HIP HOP ACTS IN KL
Malaysia has always been a crucial pit-stop for major artists that are looking to tour in Asia, thanks to the good work done by guys at places like Future Sound Asia (thank you for bringing 88 Rising!) and even Livescape Group. But hip hop’s growing influence across the region means that the time is perfect for more hip hop acts to be flown over for gigs. Djakarta Warehouse Project is featuring hip hop artists for the first time this year, while the 88 Rising show in Malaysia sold out an at incredible pace (crashing the ticketing website along the way as well). The demand is there. The influence is growing. It’s time to jump on the bandwagon and allow Malaysia to be infused by unparalled bars.
BONUS: Check out a short video clip I took of a bunch of multiracial Malaysians completely going crazy to Higher Brothers’ ‘Made in China’. Insane!