With the pandemic, life has felt like it’s on pause; we can’t move, visit, interact or grow as freely, and time continues to flow despite us being trapped in this lockdown state. We’ve somehow made our way to 2021’s Lunar New Year & Valentine’s Day. Today’s hip-hop & R&B playlist will feature five Asian artists singing & rapping about love & affection. Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or somewhere inbetween, I hope that person will be your valentine!
This list will feature YouTube links as well as Spotify ones; some of these songs aren’t on streaming services, and some of them have videos to better articulate their affectations.
Giriboy – Hogu
South Korea’s Giriboy released Hogu back in 2016, which was my introduction to the hip-hop virtuoso. My 2020 most played artist on Spotify (I was in the top 0.01% of listeners last year!), Giriboy preludes the song with Japanese, a girl affectionately asking a bunch of questions, “Did you just wake up? I just woke up, too. But I’m kinda sleepy… Giri-kun, what are you doing today? Um… did you eat already? Aren’t you going outside?…” He immediately undercuts this with a song of unrequited love and being the other man. After all, Hogu translates to Pushover.
Dean – Bonnie & Clyde
After hiding behind the booth as a producer for years, Dean erupted onto the scene in 2015 with bangers featuring the likes of fellow South Korean countrymen Zico and Anderson .Paak. Dean’s quick rise to fame came with his release of Bonnie & Clyde, which was released as a single from his 2016 EP, 130 mood:TRBL. Bonnie & Clyde features Dean singing about a ride or die relationship, one that burns as fiery as it ends.
Slodown – Khaled
One of my favorite discoveries of the past couple of years, NYC-based Singaporean Slodown samples old Asian beats with warm, modern, lo-fi take. To me, Slodown is highly underrated – Khaled plays homage to DJ Khaled’s “You smart, you loyal” with the title and throughout the smooth chorus of this song, with another side of unrequited love. Whatever the reason, Slodown doesn’t want to be locked down in a relationship right now, so she shouldn’t “give all [her] all to someone who can’t give [her] the same”. Sometimes, you “[start] out just fucking” but for Slodown, Cupid’s arrow is his penis.
Crush – Sometimes (Yerin Baek Cover)
Yerin Baek originally posted a cover of Crush’s Sometimes in 2014 on soundcloud, but this link will have to do. One of my most listened-to artists, Yerin Baek is a South Korean R&B singer-songwriter who originally debuted as part of a duo, but later branched off as a solo artist in 2015. Yerin’s cover game is my favorite aspect of her musicality, and her cover of Sometimes is one of my top five favorite covers, showcasing her impressive range. Missing someone has never sounded so good!
Keshi – Talk
I was first introduced to Keshi through an ex in 2019; Casey Luong, who goes mononymously as Keshi, is an American singer-songwriter-producer hailing from Houston, Texas. Albeit his demonstrable growth as an artist with his productions, Keshi truly shines with his live covers, and his live rendition of talk trounces his album version in every way to me, showcasing his talent and musicality. Talk is the beginning of the end; illustrating the bargaining phase of denial, Talk shows desperation to cling onto the relationship, in hopes that talking it out can save them.