Meet the Higher Brothers, four young rappers who have emerged to become the new face of Chinese hip-hop, or more specifically, the face of Chinese trap music. Based out of Chengdu, aka the “Dirty South” of China, the four-man rap crew – comprised of Masiwei, Dzknow, Psy. P, and Melo – is hungrily ambitious, working with a vicious determination towards their vision of elevating China’s hip-hop scene onto a global level.
Take a listen to some select tracks from Higher Brother’s upcoming album below:
In a country where the airwaves have long been dominated by sappy pop ballads, the Higher Brothers’ signature Chengdu-flavored trap sound is a disruptive force to be reckoned with. But even with having established their name beyond the Great Firewall – lauding props from hip-hop heads around the world in spite of the language barrier – they’re still a relatively underground act in the country, barring a devoted following in their hometown of Chengdu. On Youku and Tencent Videos, China’s answers to the now-blocked YouTube, their accumulated video views remain in the tens of thousands. Meanwhile, on YouTube, they’ve already amassed over four million views across their videos in the past few months alone. “We’re still lagging behind,” Masiwei says. “It’s still hard for people in China to access the latest and freshest music. And even when they are able to access it, they might not be willing to give it a chance because it sounds unconventional.”
在中国，多愁善感的流行音乐占据主流，Higher Brothers的标志性成都味的trap音乐打破了这种局面，是一股不可忽视的新生力量。凭借独特的曲风，他们的音乐跨越了防火墙的限制和语言的障碍，获得了来自全球嘻哈音乐爱好者的赞赏。然而，虽说在国际上已获得一定程度的关注，但他们的音乐在中国来说还尚属地下音乐，只在家乡成都拥有一批忠实歌迷。他们在优酷与腾讯视频上的MV观看量甚至远不及在国外视频网站 YouTube上的观看量。过去几个月的时间内，他们在Youtube已经获得超过400万的观看次数。聊起中国当下的音乐行业，马思唯说：“我们相对还是脚步落后。在这里，很难接触到新鲜的东西 。即使他们听到了新鲜东西也不太愿意接受。”
Prior to the formation of the Higher Brothers, the four rappers were already well-respected members of the Chengdu Rap House (CDC), a renowned Chinese rap collective. In January of 2016, they decided to form their own four-man rap crew under the CDC umbrella, and just two months later, in March, they released a 19-track, self-titled mixtape, a mixtape that set the foundation for their signature Sichuan trap sound. Despite local success, their big break didn’t happen until Howie Lee of Beijing’s Do Hits Records played a track off their mixtape at a party, catching the attention of the Asia-focused media platform 88rising. “We started chatting with 88rising after that,” Masiwei recalls. “Not long after, our good friend Bohan Phoenix flipped them the music video for our new song ‘Black Cab,’ and we’ve been working together ever since.” The 88rising YouTube channel has since started debuting exclusive new tracks from the young rappers, thrusting them in front of an international audience alongside other Asian rap powerhouses like Rich Chigga and Keith Ape. “The number of fans who love our music and the number of haters who hate our music have both gone up,” Melo says. “But it’s dope that more and more people are listening.”
在成立Higher Brothers之前，他们四人已经是国内有名的说唱团体——成都说唱会馆（CDC）的成员。在2016年1月，他们决定成立自己的四人说唱组合。仅仅两个月之后，也就是2016年3月，Higher Brothers就推出了首张19首曲目的mixtape，奠定了他们四川Trap的独特音乐风格。尽管在当地大获成功，但直到北京电子音乐厂牌 Do Hits的Howie Lee 在一次派对上播放了他们混音专辑中的音乐，并引起了专注于亚洲的媒体平台88rising的注意，他们才获得真正的突破。马思唯回忆道：“在那之后，我们就开始和88rising搭上了线。然后我们的好朋友Bohan又给88推荐了我们当时的新MV《Black Cab》，我们就和他们展开合作了。”自此之后，88rising的YouTube频道便开始定期独家发布Higher Brothers的新歌，将他们与像Rich Chigga和Keith Ape这样的亚洲说唱巨头的一起推广给全球的听众。Melo笑着说:“作品有更多人关注，喜欢和不喜欢我们的人明显增多。”
Even with global recognition and much hype leading up to their debut LP, the group acknowledges that their work is far from over, especially in China. Psy. P says, “To be successful, it’s important to never be satisfied.” Nodding, Dzknow adds, “Being successful is all about doing what others see as impossible.” And at times, when considering how the musical taste of Chinese locals have been shaped over decades, it might indeed seem like an impossible task to introduce their unorthodox sound into the mainstream. But for the four young rappers, their aspirations of validating hip-hop culture in China is just as important to them as bringing Chinese hip-hop to rest of the world.
即使他们的首张 LP获得了大量宣传和获得了全球的认可，但Higher Brothers觉得，他们离目标还很远，特别是在中国。Psy. P 说：“要取得成功，关键是永远不要满足。”Dzknow 点头表示同意，他补充说：“成功就是完成不能完成的任务。”中国人们现在的音乐品味已经经过了几十年的塑造才形成的，这样来看，要将他们的trap 音乐带入主流，的确像是一个不可能的任务。对这四位充满激情的说唱歌手来说，比起让他们自己或他们的音乐更知名，更重要的目标是最终将嘻哈文化变成中国的主流文化之一。
The upcoming album, Black Cab, is a fitting showcase of the group’s versatility and entertaining personas. From their title track “Black Cab,” a visceral, Sichuan dialect-laced trap anthem, to “7-11,” their sensual ode to the convenience store chain, it’s easy to hear a more refined and well-developed sound out of the four when compared to their mixtape from just a year prior. With an ever-growing global audience, their initial plan to release a short five-track EP has also changed. Masiwei says. “We now have 14 tracks. With this album, we want the world to see what the Higher Brothers are all about. We on some worldwide shit.” Black Cab drops on May 31st. Click here to pre-order now on iTunes.
他们即将推出的全新专辑出色体现了这个组合的多元风格和有趣的个性。从融入四川方言的trap风格歌曲《Black Cab》，到他们以7-11便利店为主题打造的歌曲 《7-11》，不难发现，他们的音乐比起一年前的mixtape更加成熟。随着他们在全球范围内的听众越来越多，他们也改变了原来仅推出含五首歌曲的EP的计划。马思唯说:“我们现在有十四首歌。这张专辑真正实现了Higher Brothers 环游世界。We on some worldwide shit。” 《Black Cab》专辑将于5月31日登陆iTunes商店，请点击这里进行预购。