“We rap about our lives, real life. We don’t talk about being rich or anything like that,” How-Z says. “We’re just honest. If we don’t have any money or girls, that’s what we’re going to rap about.” His friends BatOne and RedLee both laugh. They’re all crammed together on a train station bench in Taipei, leaning into How’s phone for our video chat as commuters filter hurriedly by all around them. This is 8Ball, the Taiwanese rap trio.
“我们只唱我们的生活，真实的生活。我们不谈论富裕或那些东西。” How-Z 说。“我们很诚实。如果我们没有钱也没有女朋友，那这就是我们会唱的东西。”他的朋友 BatOne 和 RedLee 都笑了。他们三人挤在台北一座火车站里的长椅上，靠近 How-Z 的电话和我视频聊天，背后还有通勤者的身影匆匆走过。他们是台湾说唱三人组合 8Ball。
Listen to some of our favorite tracks from 8Ball below / 点击即可试听 8Ball 的几首歌曲
Those commuters’ indifference is typical—rap is still pretty underground in Taiwan, even among the kids. And Taiwanese rap, specifically, is even farther off the map. “Taiwan doesn’t want to support Taiwanese rappers, because we’re not famous or cool. They can’t discuss us with their friends,” How-Z explains, furrowing his brows in frustration under a winter cap. “Chinese rappers are way more popular than Taiwanese rappers, even here in our hometown. Higher Brothers and WILD$TYLE? They’re very famous here. They’re even more popular than American rappers.”
This doesn’t mean 8Ball doesn’t have an active fanbase though. During a recent event at Kaohsiung’s Cocco & Co., as part of a mini-tour in support of their newest album, Never Too L8, 8Ball had a stylish young crowd bathed in neon lights animatedly jumping up and down, screaming the hook to their song as loud as they could. They’re also part of Brain Zapp, a popular local label.
The underground nature of Taiwanese youth culture means artists form tight bonds across the borders of genre or medium. When rappers perform at nightclubs, it’s usually as part of a night featuring all kinds of music, not limited to one style. Skaters and graffiti writers also make up a big part of the scene, with lots of overlap between them. “I was originally invited to do some graffiti for one of their videos and just became a part of 8Ball after that,” BatOne says. “They inspired me to pick up rapping, and four years later I’m still doing it. Hip-hop is a big part of graffiti and skate culture here, but you don’t have to listen to hip-hop to do either.”
台湾的地下青年文化，是由一群跨越流派和媒介的艺术家之间的紧密联系所构成。当说唱歌手在夜店表演时，它通常只是当晚众多音乐风格表演的一部分。而滑板玩家和涂鸦艺术家也是形成此场景的重要元素。“我最初是被邀请为他们的视频做一些涂鸦创作，之后就加入了 8Ball。” BatOne说。“他们启发我开始说唱，四年后我仍然在做这件事。嘻哈是涂鸦和滑板文化中很重要的一部分，但听嘻哈音乐并不是做这两件事的前提。”
This connectivity was captured in 8Ball’s video for “Can’t Catch Me” (“你抓不到我”), which follows lone skater through the streets of Taipei dressed in all white with a backpack full of spray paint. BatOne’s verse is dedicated strictly to that graffiti life, referencing cops, beefs with other graffiti writers, and the local aerosol brand PP. “It’s not that difficult to paint in the streets here,” he says. “The police still don’t really know about it. And it’s not really a big crime either.” His parents still don’t know he does graffiti, or even that he raps. “I just want to avoid that trouble.” he laughs.
嘻哈和涂鸦的连结性在 8Ball 的音乐视频《你抓不到我》里有很好的呈现。一位滑板玩家身穿全白，背着一个装满喷漆的背包穿越台北的大街小巷。BatOne 的创作专注于涂鸦生活的大小事——躲避警察、和其他涂鸦艺术家的不合、当地气雾漆品牌 PP 等等。 “要在台北街头涂鸦其实并不困难。”他说，“警察不太了解这件事，这也不是太严重的犯罪。”但他的父母仍然不知道他会涂鸦，也不知道他玩说唱。 “我只是想尽量避免麻烦而已。”他笑着说。