By Hanna Fernan ’24 for Fall 2020 Issue
88rising, an Asian-focused record label and media company, has always been a platform to deepen Asian representation in the music industry (more prominently in Hip Hop and R&B) since 2015. With artists originating from places like China, Japan, and Indonesia, 88rising serves as a music collective, having these artists tour together in the Head in the Clouds concerts and release music together.
Though several historic plans for 88rising were halted due to COVID-19 (specifically their Coachella debut and Head in the Clouds festival in Indonesia), two prominent 88rising artists have continued to thrive: Indonesian singer NIKI and Japanese singer Joji. In early September, NIKI released her debut album Moonchild — a genre-fluid concept album, incorporating synth pop to transcend her previous R&B style. Here, NIKI matures and grows as an artist, creating an intricate storyline unlike anything she’s done before. Later that month, Joji released Nectar, an 18-track album reflective of Joji’s past lo-fi sound, with the addition of stronger vocals and bolder production. Later in October, Joji’s online concert “The Extravaganza” featured unique performances of Joji’s discography, with comedic skits, fresh outfits, and a variety of environments, demonstrating Joji’s prowess in captivating his audience.
Overall, 88rising has given NIKI and Joji, alongside other Asian artists, a strong platform to succeed outside the popular KPOP and JPOP realm of Asian representation. Therefore, even with hindrances and limitations, 88rising remains one of the more unique and captivating music labels in the music industry.