88Rising Gives an Important Platform for Asian-American Artists

88Rising pose together during the shooting of “Midsummer’s Madness”.

By Trina Bernal

      When my friend played this upbeat heartbreak song “Midsummer Madness” by 88Rising in the car, I automatically swayed along to it. But when I realized the singers were Asian, I was proud and shocked, because today’s radio rarely streams any Asian-American artist. 88Rising is a new up-and-coming group featuring Asian-American artists, and this past summer their debut song “Midsummer Madness” played on a Bay Area radio station channel, 99.7 Alice. “Midsummer Madness” is one of the many songs in today’s radio that is opening up doors for Asian American music producers and artists. Agreeing, senior Chelsea Arangcon (12) thinks it’s “super awesome!!” and recognizes how diversity is very important and feels that there aren’t many famous Asian American artists.

    And sure, on the radio last year, the Top 10 Hits included Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” (taking first on the Hits with about 1.12 million spins), Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” (with 959,000 spins), and Maroon 5 and Kendrick Lamar’s “Don’t Wanna Know” (with 583,000 spins.) Looking at the rest of the Top Ten artists of last year, I noticed an interesting statistic of zero prominent Asian-American artists.

     But this year alone, 88Rising managed to accumulate 3.5million followers on YouTube, which is impressive considering their debut date was just this past summer, on June 7, 2018. Their debut single “Midsummer Madness” reached 20 million listeners on YouTube, and “Midsummer Madness” perfectly captures the carefree yet haunting feeling of mid-summer days.

    88Rising was created not too long ago in 2015 by artist manager Sean Miyashiro. The first signees to the unlabeled label were Filipino-American singer/choreographer Brian Puspos and Korean-American rapper Jonathan Park (formerly known as Dumbfoundead, now known as Dummie), and Josh Pan. The 88Rising Founder Miyashiro was adamant on the fact that 88Rising had no boundaries but rather it kept improving upon its last creation.

    And 88Rising does have an interesting journey, as the company was based on a group of friends. You could say the best groups are those whose bond not only strengthens their friendship but their brand as well. 88Rising essentially comprises of a hip-hop group made up of Japanese-American hip-hop producer Sen Morimoto, Mandarin-speaking trap quartet Higher Brothers from Chengdu, China, and Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, and the vocalists group, whose songs range anywhere from innocent love to mature heartbreak, Australian-Japanese singer Joji, Indonesian singer NIKI, Japanese singer Rina Sawayama, and LA-bred R&B singer August 08.

    This group has gone through many phases and used to be known as the “definitive media brand [that] represents and celebrates Asian culture, especially for millennials and young people,” according to music exploration digital medium Genius. But now Manager Miyashiro doesn’t believe it’s solely for Asian Americans, because 88Rising introduced a non-Asian vocalist named August 08. What some people may think is a flaw is actually a strength in their music association. Miyashiro states in an interview to Forbes, “We can toil around all day long with what our brand ‘is’ or ‘should be,’ but I think the best path forward is just to keep on creating stuff that feels right, with no rules.”

    Last Halloween, 88Rising performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, and most of the fans stayed in the General Admission Area, which is all floor, meaning fans can be near the stage where their favorite artists are performing. And 88Rising did not disappoint, always keeping the crowd hyped and ready for the next set. Even the fans knew some of the Mandarin lyrics the Higher Brothers were rapping to the audience.

    It’s safe to say that this 88Rising band helps pave the way for incoming and future foreign music influencers, producers, and musicians alike. Many of the 88Rising artists have various EP’s and albums out now: Higher Brothers with ‘Type-3’ EP back in February, August 08 with the ‘Father’ EP and Niki with the ‘Zephyr’ EP back in May, and Joji with the recently released ‘Ballads 1’ album (October 26, 2018). 88Rising consists of a wide range of music genres so you’ll be sure to find your next favorite artist from the amazing group.

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