Photo Courtesy of 88rising
PARADISE RISING: How 88rising's New Label Is Pushing Filipino Music And Culture To The Forefront
GRAMMY.com caught up with 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro and Filipino artists Kiana V and Leila Alcasid to talk about how PARADISE RISING is spotlighting the blossoming music scene in the Philippines
From the start, 88rising was always a passion project, with founder Sean Miyashiro at the forefront of a dream. In 2015, he started the company, which takes its name from the Chinese symbol for "double luck and fortune," hoping to create a label that could represent and showcase the talent of underground Asian artists. Fast-forward five years later, and 88rising has become a global brand, bridging the gap between Eastern and Western pop culture and representing some of the most fervent Asian acts in the music industry. But was it really "double luck" that propelled them to the top?
Regularly collecting millions of views per video on their YouTube channel, 88rising has launched multiple newcomers into superstardom, in turn creating a space for Asian rappers, singers and artists to thrive in music. The company's roster includes Rich Brian, the Indonesian-Chinese rapper/singer behind the 2016 viral song and video "Dat $tick"; Chinese hip-hop quartet Higher Brothers, who have been revered for bypassing several censorship regulations in their homeland with their lyrics; and Indonesian R&B songbird NIKI, who, at 21, has opened for Taylor Swift, Halsey and other major stars on tour.
88rising artists have also secured high-profile collaborations with some of the biggest names from the East and West, including Hong Kong-native rapper and K-pop idol Jackson Wang, Korean rock/pop group DAY6 and former EXO member Kris Wu as well as rap giants likes 21 Savage, Playboi Carti and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah.
Both the artists and the mass media company itself have grown cult-like followings via their groundbreaking music and the globally inclusive multimedia world they've created, which collectively celebrate Asian and Asian-American culture and identity. 88rising's annual Head In The Clouds Festival, dubbed the "Asian Coachella" by Rolling Stone, emphasizes the importance of representation, one of Miyashiro's main goals behind the label. (Head In The Clouds was due to debut in Jakarta, Indonesia, this past March before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 88rising was scheduled to host its Double Happiness event series at this year's Coachella before the festival was postponed in June.)
"88rising is a culture that people want to get behind," Miyashiro explains to GRAMMY.com via email. "It's the type of movement that makes people wanna get tattoos of the logo on their bodies. That doesn't just happen to any media company or record label. We mean something intangible to people."
Now, the collective is expanding into Southeast Asia with the launch of its new sister label, PARADISE RISING.
In July 2020, 88rising partnered with Globe Telecom, the Philippines' biggest telecommunications company, to create PARADISE RISING, a label focused on highlighting Filipino artists and culture. The imprint's inaugural mixtape, semilucent, released last month (July 31), spotlights the rising artists putting the island country on the music map, including Jason Dhakal, Leila Alcasid, Massiah, Fern., and Kiana V. Collectively, semilucent embodies the individual artists' Filipino heritage and culture.
GRAMMY.com caught up with 88rising founder Sean Miyashiro and Filipino artists Kiana V and Leila Alcasid to talk about how PARADISE RISING is spotlighting the blossoming music scene in the Philippines, the rising influence of Asian artists in R&B and hip-hop, and the ongoing journey toward "true Asian representation in pop culture."
How did 88rising start?
Sean Miyashiro: 88rising started with a small dream in a parking lot in the Bronx. That's what makes it so crazy. We had no idea what we would become. We're still a small team, and it's always been DIY for us. Being small and scrappy has allowed us holistic creative control of our brand, our vision and our future. We put out things into the world that we believe in.
You have a very wide array of artists who are given the freedom to express themselves as they see fit. Has this always been your vision with the label?
Miyashiro: We're all family. We provide our artists the space and creative freedom to do what they want. At the end of the day, what we want is the same: to make dope music while trailblazing the way towards a future with true Asian representation in pop culture.
88rising has collaborated with many artists who are already so successful in the East, including Jackson Wang and Kang Daniel. How do these collaborations come to fruition? Do you think this helps blur the lines that might exist between artists from the West and the East?
Miyashiro: Everything that happens has been serendipitous and natural. We never force anything, but when we see an opportunity, we put our whole hearts behind it. And in the process, if it brings more people together, then we've done our job—and more.
What prompted the creation of PARADISE RISING?
Miyashiro: It really just made sense for us. The synergy with Globe was there. With their local expertise paired with 88rising's global infrastructure, PARADISE RISING brings talented emerging Asian artists to the forefront of global youth culture. We're just continuing to do what we do best.
The label's debut EP, semilucent, highlights the broad diversity of Filipino artists and styles. Is there something about the Philippines, in particular, that led you to explore the artists and music from there?
Miyashiro: The Philippines has such a vibrant music culture, and there are so many young talented artists who are emerging. We want to amplify this on a global scale.
What parts of your Filipino culture and heritage do you bring into your music, lyrics and songwriting?
Kiana V: I'd say being a Filipino, we're very passionate people, and you hear that in our music; [whether it's] songs that are lively, our ballads or in our folk music, the vulnerability stands out. That's something I definitely bring into my music.
Leila Alcasid: I always pay attention to my process; Filipinos always want to give every part of themselves. The way that this translates in music is that we're very vulnerable. If you look at the music that we listen to, it's really all to do with digging deep and having music that relates to the human condition ... I guess I'm trying to be as vulnerable as possible, trying to open myself up.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Kiana V: I was always drawn to Solange. When she was able to break away and do her own thing, I followed her immediately. I'm a huge fan of her storytelling and her way of writing. I grew up listening to a lot of Brandy, JoJo and Aaliyah, too. [Laughs.] Oh my God, I'm such a millennial. A lot of R&B and jazz artists. I'd say those are my main musical influences.
Alcasid: Different aspects of my music are informed by different artists. Norah Jones, a lot of Nelly Furtado, that's an example of who I look to on how to approach my vocals. I'm not a belter, I'm a lot more relaxed when I sing, and I think that was heavily influenced by those artists. From 88rising, I am so inspired by NIKI. I think she is such a talented writer. Her lyrics are so witty, but they're also incredibly poetic; I'm a huge fan.
Between 2017 to now, which is the bulk of when I started learning how to write songs and figuring out what my sound was, I started listening to a lot of Korean music. There was a point when I was obsessed with BTS, and I feel like my love for BTS was a big part of why I attempted to string a narrative through everything in my first EP. A lot of their work is very narrative-heavy, and I was inspired by that. I wanted to do that for my EP, and it kind of even happened and continued in "Clouds," my song on semilucent.
The sounds on semilucent are mainly R&B and hip-hop. Can you speak a bit on the rising influence of Asian artists in this space?
Kiana V: R&B and hip-hop has been a growing sound in the Asian community. I believe it's always been there. With technology and social media, people have been given a space to grow their own platforms, and these talented artists are finally being able to shine in their own space. As far as evolution is concerned, I think there's just room for so much growth and a burst of more and more artists.
Alcasid: There's such a huge collective of people here [in the Philippines] that focus on those sounds. I wasn't very aware of the hip-hop scene here, but as I've been here longer, I'm noticing that the one thing they're really informed by is politics. I feel like on one end, it can be a bit risky. But on the other, it's a way to express yourself in a way that's very honest and runs historical.
I learned a lot about how Filipinos are approaching hip-hop through my boyfriend, who's a rapper here. It's been interesting to see what inspires hip-hop and how they're influenced by the West. They're tying in the sounds of the West, but it's still authentically them as possible ... In all different parts of Asia, we're influenced by the West and what's already been done, but you can identify the styles and the way in which they're transformed to become inherently Asian.
What does the future look like for 88rising and PARADISE RISING?
Miyashiro: We have a few super-exciting [artist] signings on the way and more mixtape drops incoming.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images
Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream
Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund
This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”
Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.
Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup
Find out who's bringing the heat to the hip-hop fest returning to L.A. this December
Today, Rolling Loud revealed the massive lineup for their final music festival of 2019, Rolling Loud Los Angeles, which is set to take over the Banc of California Stadium and adjacent Exposition Park on Dec. 14–15.
This iteration of "the Woodstock of Hip-Hop," as the all-knowing Diddy has called it, will feature Chance the Rapper, Lil Uzi Vert, Juice WRLD, Young Thug and Lil Baby as Saturday's heavy-hitting headliners. Sunday's headliners are none other than Future, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, YG and Playboi Carti.
L.A.'s own Blueface, Tyga and Doja Cat, are slated to perform, as well as representatives from the diverse rap scenes across the country, including Wale, Juicy J, Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Tyla Yaweh, Machine Gun Kelly and Yung Gravy.
The lineup announcement follows the successful wrap of Rolling Loud Bay Area in Oakland this past weekend. The event's flagship Miami event took place in May this year, and the New York and Hong Kong debut editions will both take place later this month.
Some of y’all not ready for these moshpits https://t.co/3nlaudjapq— Randy (@randyt0321) October 1, 2019