Top 10 Asian Rappers of All Time
To begin, rapping is an art. This art is capable of being carried out by any human regardless of race, ethnicity, age or gender. This list is a compilation of Asian rappers born both inside and outside of the United States that have made, or are in the process of making, a significant contribution to rap music.
10. Rich Chigga: Word about the young Indonesian prodigy started to travel internationally after a reaction video was released to promote the artist. The reaction video consisted of prominent American rappers Desiigner, Ghostface Killah, 21 Savage and Flatbush Zombies all reacting to Rich Chiggas ‘Dat $tick,’ a viral hit he made at 16 years old. The talented and deep-toned rapper began on the internet as an 11-year-old Brian Imanuel who satirized American culture and followed famous rappers such as Tyler, the Creator, Childish Gambino and 2 Chainz. Imanuel learned English by watching videos on the internet and immersing himself in the American culture. In 2015, the name “Rich Chigga” was conceived, and Imanuel began releasing songs by this name such as his first release, ‘Living the Dream.’
Most successful tracks: Dat $tick, Who That Be, Seventeen
Career High Point: Rich Chigga signed with CXSHXNLY and released the remix of his famous ‘Dat $tick,’ now featuring Ghostface Killah and Pouya on the track. Following these stepping-stones, the artist released his third single ‘Seventeen,’ that would easily exceed the one million mark of views and streams on YouTube and SoundCloud.
Current Status: On May 11, Rich Chigga released a collaboration on soundcloud including himself, Keith Ape and XXXTentacion on a fire track called ‘Gospel’ produced by RONNY J.
9. Keith Ape: Also known as the ‘Korean OG Maco,’ from Seoul, South Korea, Ape has been rising to fame ever since the drop of his first single, ‘잊지마’ ‘(It G Ma’) on January 1, 2015. Ape is known for his electrifying performances and has even been cited for such in The New York Times top 40 picks after a “rowdy” concert in 2015.
Most successful tracks: It G Ma, Psycho, Diamonds
Career High Point: The artist’s entire career has been a high point. Keith Ape does not have a clear peak, as he got his start in 2015 and will be releasing an album in 2017.
Current Status: Ape’s most recent release came with his collaboration with Rich Chigga and XXXTENACION on the track ‘Gospel.’
8. CL: Born as Lee Chae-rin, the South Korean singer, songwriter and rapper has steadily rose to stardom since her start as the leader of girl group, 2NE1. She was managed by JYP Entertainment before getting her start with YG Entertainment at 15 years old. The talented young artist continued to work with her three band mates, releasing incredibly successful music and performing alongside them until 2014 when she announced her plans to go solo. Since then, CL has announced Scooter Braun as her manager in the United States and was featured in Diplo’s popular single ‘Doctor Pepper,’ also featuring Riff Raff and OG Maco. ‘Hello Bitches,’ CL’s first single, was released in November of 2015 as a teaser for her most recent accomplishment: EP Lifted.
Most successful tracks: Hello Bitches, LIFTED, THE BADDEST FEMALE
Career High Point: CL’s ‘Lifted,’ was released on August 19, 2016 and ranked at number 21 in iTunes’ Top 30 Hip-Hop/Rap chart within three hours of being released. On November 14, 2016, the artist concluded her first North American Tour in Toronto, Canada.
Current Status: CL still remains on the music scene and most recently released her single Lifted in August of 2016.
7. Dok2: This Korean rapper got signed to the major label Future Flow Entertainment when he was just 13 years old. Heading into his twenties, the talented artist had already written and produced songs for famous hip-hop Korean groups like Drunken Tiger, Dynamic Duo and Epik High. In 2006, the artist joined forces with another young rapper named Microdot and they produced an album together called Chapter 1, under a group name ‘All Black.’ In 2009, the artist released a smaller solo album called Thunderground. Two years later, rappers Dok2 and The Quiett formed Illionare Records, a hip-hop label now known for being one of the most influential in South Korea.
Most successful tracks: Am I, In My Whip, Still On My Way
Career High Point: I would have to say the rapper and co-CEO is currently at his career high point. Dok2 is his own manager, while managing several other incredibly talented artists.
Current Status: The South-Korean-based rapper is presently the co-CEO of Illionaire Records, and recently released an album Reborn in 2017.
6. KOHH: The Japanese artist was born in Tokyo and raised in a home where he was not the only child who aspired to be a famous rapper. The young artist grew up around violence and drugs and could finally escape this world when he met a producer that goes by 318. At 18 years old, KOHH started recording and producing his own work under the label Gunsmith Production. After a steady growth of popularity in Japan came about, KOHH continued to release music until he would get his big break in 2015. He contributed with Japanese artist Loota on Keith Ape’s track ‘It G Ma,’ and KOHH began to gain international recognition and praise. In 2016, the artist was featured on impressive works such as ‘Nikes,’ by Frank Ocean and ‘Bōkyaku’ by Hikaru Utada.
Most successful tracks: Dirt Boys, Paris, Business and Art
Career High Point: At the 2016 Space Shower Music Video Awards, KOHH was awarded as the Best Hip Hop Artist.
Current Status: KOHH remains on the hip-hop scene under Gunsmith Production; working with several other talented artists.
5. P-Lo: Bay Area Filipino Rapper P-Lo was the co-founder of The Heartbreak Gang, a hip-hop group including Iamsu!, Sage the Gemini and more. P-Lo met Ismsu! in 2005 and joined forces with the producer creating a duo known as 'The Invasion.' P-Lo is known for his effortless swag, way with words and his producing capabilities that have contributed on Wiz Khalifa’s song, ‘Bout Me' and Yo Gotti’s ‘Act Right.’
Most successful tracks: Put Me on Somethin’, Never Sorry, Feel Good
Career High Point: P-Lo’s career barely has any low or average points; however, his highest point would probably be the release of his two solo tapes: MBMGC and MBMGC 2.
Current Status: P-Lo most recently released a solo album of 15 songs named More Than Anything on May 11, 2017.
4. G-Dragon: Another rapper from Seoul, South Korea got his start at the rare, young age of 11. G was signed to YG Entertainment and joined a popular music group known as ‘Big Bang’ years later. The creative artist produced and wrote a great deal for his group until he would release his own EP in 2009 called Heartbreaker, which turned out to be a raging success. In 2010, Dragon would reunite with former Big Bang member TOP and collaborate to create the album GD & TOP, followed by a solo EP release One of a Kind. The Dragon's most recent release was ‘That XX,’ in September of 2012, completely topping charts and not surprising us with talent.
Most successful tracks: Crooked, One of a Kind, That XX
Career High Point: G-Dragon’s debut solo album Heartbreaker was one of the most commercially successful albums of the year, also winning the artist the Mnet Asian Music Award for Album of the Year. Another high came from his EP release of One of a Kind; that generating even more sales and granting the artist Record of the Year at the 22nd Seoul Music Awards. In 2013, the artist outdid himself again, winning Artist of the Year at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards, as well as World’s Best Entertainer and Album at the 2014 awards show.
Current Status: G-Dragon is currently in the works of a new album and concert tour to be released in 2017.
3. Snacky Chan: The Jersey-born natural talent made a name for himself primarily in Boston in the early 2000s, and now resides in NYC collaborating with huge names ever since. Chan now belongs to his own record label called Dynasty Muzik and has most recently collaborated with former Wu Tang Clan member GZA. Chan’s focus is not on the money or compensation of his hard work but rather the actual acquirement of his dreams.
Most successful tracks: Dummy For My Daughter, What I Like to do, Part of Nation
Career High Point: After his first album release in September 2001, the artist became widely recognized as one of the most skilled MC’s around. He was also nominated for Best New Rap/Hip-Hop Act at the 2001 Boston Music Awards.
Current Status: Since 2011, Chan has owed his own record label ‘Dynasty Muzik,’ and is currently working as a solo artist.
2. The Mountain Brothers: This Philly-based trio consisted of CHOPS, Peril-L and Styles Infinite; it made history as one of the first ever Asian American hip-hop groups entirely producing their own music. The group met in college at Penn State University in 1994 and gained popularity for their pioneering sound as MC’s and producers. The group released three albums in the 90s, and soon after joined the major label Ruffhouse. The trio parted ways before they could release an album under the new management, and as a result never blew up commercially. CHOPS is the sole member of the group who went on to successfully work in the music industry.
Most successful tracks: Galaxies, Paperchase, Fluids
Career high point: The trio’s highest point would be their release of Self Vol 1 and Triple Crown in 1999, holding some of their most prized work.
Current Status: CHOPS went on to accomplish a great deal in the industry, producing beats for artists like Lil Wayne and Kanye West. CHOPS has also compiled the music for the MTV reality television show ‘Rob and Big,’ as well as several soundtracks for popular films. Styles Infinite is now a working physician, and Peril-L is similarly a medical researcher.
1. Jin: It is only fair that the most well-known, talented and best-selling Asian-American rap artist gets the number one spot. Jin was the first ever Asian rapper to rap on a major label like Ruff Rydaz and gained massive respect from his peers in the emerging world of hip-hop. Jin proved his natural ability with the many freestyle competitions he has won such as the Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame and Fight Klub in 2004 and 2005. Though his rise to fame fell short due to poor direction toward mainstream singles like ‘Senorita,’ the artist remains focused on the bigger picture: his music, and he has been making music independently since.
Most successful tracks: Kagerou Days, It’s Definitely You, Outter Science
Career High Point: The artists peak was probably when his debut album was released selling about 200,000 copies.
Current Status: Jin is currently living in Hong Kong as an independent rapper. He releases mixtapes and singles to a loyal fan base.