These 4 non-American rap superstars will take you on a sound journey around the world.
Do you think rap is as American as apple pie?
Well if you’re reading this, it’s too late. Rap has taken over the world. After it made its way from Brooklyn the Bay, the genre snowballed into a global movement. Rap is more than sound, it’s an attitude-- a swagger, if you will. And it’s one that knows no borders. So if your iTunes library is looking a little domestic, it’s time to put your ears on vacation. Throw on those pimp chains and lace up those Nikes (or Reeboks, if we’re kickin’ it old school), because we’re going on rap’s world tour. Better pack your passport!
East coast rap doesn’t stop at Queens. It’s time to hop the AirTrain to JFK, because we’ve got a flight to catch. Savor the sound of the far Far East with Higher Brothers, the four man group based in Mainland China. True, their lyrics and style are somewhat Americanized, but maybe that’s what makes them as addictive as that Orange Chicken you just ordered on Seamless. But all we really want to know is how Kendrick feels about Higher Brothers’ international hit, “Bitch Don’t Kill My Dab.”
Rich Chigga, fka Brian Immanuel, is proof that you don’t step foot stateside to become a player in the rap game. The home-schooled, 17-year old viral sensation from Indonesia practically broke the internet with his video “Dat $tick,” which he directed and edited himself. But don’t let the pink polo shirt and pubescent looks fool you, his ironic persona belies some serious talent. Behind that borderline satirical façade is an illustrious freestyler, whose homespun approach is what Normcore rap lovers have been waiting for.
What do hip-hop and a German dancehall orchestra have in common? Peter Fox, aka Pierre Baigorry, naturally. The Berlin-born, NYC-based artist sowed his musical oats in the 11-member band, Seeed, before venturing solo. And as it turns out, Fox has mad flow-- quite the feat, considering he rhymes in a language that relies on more consonants than it does vowels. While his lyrics are as German as schnitzel, Fox’s unique brand of hip-hop draws on an array of musical flavors, from reggae to classical.
As long as we’re still in Western Europe, let’s pop over to the U.K. If you’re looking for a non-American addition to your iTunes library that’s Drizzy and Kanye approved, look no further than Skepta, the British Grime star of Nigerian descent, who’s cutting his teeth in the U.S. market with co-signs from two of American rap’s heaviest hitters. (Ok, ok. Drake is Canadian, but we like to think of him as American with better healthcare). Drake is more than Skepta’s co-signer, however. The two have definitely reached BFF status with tattoos in honor of one another. That’s quite the musical bromance.
Feeling jet-lagged? Don’t worry, you’ll recover. Now that you’re back home, it’s best you forget about those East Coast-West Coast rivalries. It’s clear that rap is a global medium, created and enjoyed by individuals in the farmost corners of the world. Will the United States remain a rap superpower? Not if these guys have anything to do with it.