I feel like Asian artists don’t get enough credibility in the entertainment industry. People don’t recognize their talents, and it’s disappointing because representation is such a big deal. Growing up, I never saw Asian musicians, and I never expected to. Thankfully, K-pop has become a huge trend and numerous groups have made it big (like my favorite group of all-time, BTS). However, I wanted more people to recognize other artists that don’t get the spotlight. Some of them are K-pop artists, and some of them are Asian musicians breaking down barriers. Here are four Asian artists you need to know right now.
Korean American artist Audrey Chu, who goes by Audry or Audrey Nuna, is making waves in R&B and hip hop. Her music can range from soulful singing in songs like “Party” or to straight rapping like in the track “Comic Sans.” There’s something so effortlessly cool about Audrey and the laid back personality she has. She’s breaking boundaries not only as a woman but an Asian woman stepping into hip hop, which is practically unheard of. With such a powerful and beautiful voice, there is no doubt in my mind she could become huge.
Hailing from Indonesia, Rich Brian became mainstream several years ago on YouTube and is now growing in popularity. At only 20 years old, he has made a name for himself as he continues to grow, especially because he is a part of 88rising, which is a company that focuses on Asian talents. His deep voice accompanies lo-fi tracks that have been streamed by millions. He is unapologetically himself, and he doesn’t try to fake a persona in his music. Brian has collaborated with other popular Asian artists like Joji, making his presence unstoppable.
Rapper Lexie Liu raps in mostly Chinese, but regardless of the language difference her talents are clear. Sticking to her guns and creating her own hip hop music, she says in an interview with Dazed that “I have more girl fans than guy fans, which I think is great. A lot of my songs, I write them for girls.” Her representation as a Chinese-American woman in the music industry is huge and speaks to me as a Chinese-American girl as well. Gaining some popularity because she appeared on the show Kpop – Star, she decided to pursue her own solo career. On her mission to break the glass ceiling, Lexie Liu is way too talented to ignore.
Indonesian singer NIKI has surged in popularity due to her amazing voice, lyrics, and production. Booked as a performer for this year’s Coachella, NIKI is using her platform to represent Asians in the music industry. She is a part of 88rising as well, and NIKI is a pop and indie singer who creates music that anybody would love. Reaching out to her fanbase on social media regularly, she understands the importance of her platform. NIKI’s presence in the music industry is more relevant than ever, as she keeps paving the way for more Asian artistry.
There are so many more artists that I could have listed, but these four have been gaining recognition quite fast. Representation is so important, and the lack of Asian representation in the media is quite disappointing. Luckily, Asian artistry is growing and creating a generation of representation and pride. I have seen it firsthand, and growing up in an age where barriers are being broken every day is absolutely encouraging. There is still much work to do, but I’m hoping there will be more representation of Asians in the media one day.