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Listen: Celebrate AAPI Month 2021 With This Playlist Featuring Artists Of Asian & Pacific Islander Descent
The experience of being Asian-American and/or of Pacific Islander descent cannot be contained in a word, phrase or corporate slogan. Each universe contains innumerable micro-universes; under a microscope, even more realms of identity and feeling emerge.
That said, it is incumbent on each of us to recognize and appreciate the contributions of AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) artists, even though the dialogue and introspection the term entails is astronomically larger than four letters can hold.
GRAMMY.com is proud to curate a playlist for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021. Uncontained by genre or racial identity within the Asian and Pacific Islander diasporas, the result is a sonic tour through wildly divergent genres: pop, jazz, classical and beyond. We've also compiled quotes from artists as well as Recording Academy staffers who self-identify as AAPI.
The aim of this playlist is not to artificially string together artists based on their appearance or perceived racial descent; rather, it is to demonstrate how artists within the AAPI world have enriched more styles of music than we can count.
Picks From Recording Academy Staff Members Of AAPI Descent
Kobukuro — "Winding Road"
Golden — "Hate Everything"
Lee Hong Gi — "Still"
"I love that this month gives us an additional platform to celebrate the APIDA community. The Asian American experience is filled with a lot of complexity and richness, so I'm grateful we've been able to shed some light on that through food, music and art, history, advocacy, and a heightened sense of community. Always excited to keep the energy going beyond this month!" —Taylor Kimiko Saucedo, Project Manager of Ticketing and Event Operations, Production Department
BTS — "Butter"
Stray Kids — "Back Door"
Eric Nam — "Honestly"
Radwimps — "Nandemonaiya"
Pierre Fitz — "T'lah Berubah"
Gabe Bondoc — "Filler"
"I'm so appreciative of our community and all those who support it, in and out of this month. My Philippine culture has always been a part of me, and while I always try to bring it out in everything that I do, this month I feel more welcomed to show it! During this month, I'd also love to encourage everyone to support local Asian businesses; not only have they been affected by COVID, but also the Asian injustice acts happening throughout the world." —Thea Marvic A. Domingo, Executive Office Coordinator
Rina Sawayama — "Bad Friend"
Mitski — "Your Best American Girl"
Yuna — "Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
H.E.R. — "Focus"
Suzuki Saint — "Sunday"
Japanese Breakfast — "Be Sweet"
"To be honest, I am used to AAPI Month being ignored by non-AAPI entities, so it's been a little strange to see so much about it this year. I'm getting promotional emails from companies highlighting AAPI-owned products, etc. I have a feeling the increased celebration of AAPI month is unfortunately tied to the rise in hate crimes targeting AAPI people, and so I have mixed feelings about it—not about the month itself, but about non-AAPI folks suddenly acknowledging it when they haven't before." —Jane Kim, Coordinator
Crush + Pink Sweat$ — "I Wanna Be Yours"
DPR Live — "Cheese & Wine"
Phum Viphurit — "Lover Boy"
NIKI — "Indigo"
Rich Brian — "Kids"
"I'm glad that many people have been promoting Asian American culture this month! From the food and languages to more serious issues such as discrimination and #StopAsianHate, it's been an enlightening few weeks." —Chris Chhoeun, Accountant, Business Affairs
Quotes From Artists Of AAPI Descent
Joey Alexander — "Under The Sun"
"While it's often customary in Asian culture to remain silent when faced with adversity, it is encouraging to see how all the Asian communities have banded together to speak out against the violence that's been inflicted on our elders, brothers and sisters, not just recently but systematically because of how we look. I am hopeful for a future of harmony where there is an open dialogue about our cultural differences and how as humans, we are all seeking peace, happiness and prosperity." —Joey Alexander
Vijay Iyer Trio — "Children of Flint"
"It's not that any particular album is political, but at almost any moment in my musical life, I'm listening to what's happening outside and that is informing what I do, why I do it and with whom I do it. And for whom I do it. The first two pieces on the album [2021's Uneasy] are probably the most 'political.' But it's more like each of them was serving a specific purpose—serving a specific cause. And by serving, I mean literally serving. Trying to support an existing movement on the ground." —Vijay Iyer, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021
Bhi Bhiman — "Magic Carpet Ride"
"I'm happy to see it. I think it's important for the younger generation of kids—Asian kids, but maybe more importantly, non-Asian kids—to see that we are just a normal part of the country. We don't need special sections for our movies on Netflix or a temporary showcase on corporate retail websites. We just wish to be treated with the same respect as our European-American counterparts in real-life situations. We want to be judged on the content of our character, not the color of our skin. But there are some strong stereotypes in America about Asians, and in my case, Indians. My parents are from Sri Lanka, which floats on the edge of the Indian subcontinent. As a musician, I'm often on the wrong end of conscious and unconscious bias, unfortunately. The plight of the perpetual foreigner is that our superpower is invisibility in plain sight. It can be challenging, especially when I know I am one of the best out there at what I do. But I love seeing people embracing their heritage and culture and having pride in it. I see the world changing and stereotypes fading away, which is good news for the next generation." —Bhi Bhiman
Yo-Yo Ma — "Amazing Grace (Prelude)"
"I value the perspective that time can give as well as different disciplines. We can look at ourselves biologically. If we look at ourselves genetically, the huge chasms in racial-ethnic differences become minuscule." —Yo-Yo Ma, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021
Jihye Lee — "Struggle Gives You Strength"
"I sincerely appreciate the many organizations celebrating AAPI Month. I am thrilled to see some of the Asian musicians getting special exposure, including myself. I am beyond thankful for the support. Although I am aware all the actions come from genuine intention, I still want to be seen just as a composer. I hear the name Toshiko Akiyoshi as a comparison just because of my ethnicity. Even though I have tremendous respect toward her, I don't think it's my music that reminds them of Toshiko but my look—and I am not even Japanese. Maybe people want to name the same skin color of musicians they know as a nice and kind gesture, just like I hear 'Ni hao' on the street—and I am not Chinese. I am an Asian female composer, but when it comes to music, I wish my music to be heard without any preconception and wish to have AAPI support focused on our works—not on being Asian itself. We are in the middle of making changes, and I hope these efforts lead us to a world that doesn't need the word AAPI." —Jihye Lee
Jen Shyu — "Lament for Breonna Taylor"
"I'm an artist who really embraces my ancestry. I go deep into it. That's my path. But I know how frustrating it must be for other Asian artists who people might expect that of them. They just want to make music, you know? It's just being the other. I've never let it stop me because I'm so hard-headed. I just go forward." —Jen Shyu, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.
Tomoko Omura — "Revenge of the Rabbit"
"They're stories you can relate to, those folk tales. They've been told for a long time for reasons, right? Because we're humans at the end. Those children's folk songs and folk tales have lived so long because the messages are strong. I think it's a great way to connect us as humans." —Tomoko Omura, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.
Min Xiao-Fen — "Annica (Impermanence)"
"This world is small, you know? People should be open-minded." —Min Xiao-Fen, speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021.
More Artist Picks By Recording Academy Staff
Jay Som — "Tenderness"
Mxmtoon — "Creep"
Tyler Shaw — "North Star"
Steve Aoki feat. BTS — "Waste It On Me"
TOKiMONSTA — "Bibimbap"
Giraffage feat. Japanese Breakfast — "Maybes"
RayRay — "Outer Space"
Yaeji — "Raingurl"
Peggy Gou — "It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)"
"As a person of color myself, I know the struggle of feeling foreign or being 'othered' in my own home country. Yes, I am of two lineages, but I am as equally American as I am Mexican. I feel the plight of my AAPI brothers, sisters and nonbinary friends during this difficult, scary time. And while we are celebrating AAPI artists and cultures all month long, we must keep the conversation going all year long. #AAPIAllYear." —John Ochoa, Managing Editor of GRAMMY.com
Raveena — "Tweety"
Hayley Kiyoko — "Found My Friends"
—Jenn Velez, Editor of GRAMMY.com
ZHU ft. Yuna — "Sky Is Crying"
TOKiMONSTA ft. Yuna — "Don't Call Me"
Lastlings — "No Time"
Yaeji — "WAKING UP DOWN"
—Ana Monroy Yglesias, Editor of GRAMMY.com