Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and I’m going to a concert soon! I’ve had the tickets since summer, so I am pretty excited about it. Surprisingly, this is only going to be my second concert (not including school concerts and The Wiggles). My first one was seeing JAY Z in December of 2017 at the Allstate Arena. Now, for the second one, I am seeing 88rising at the Aragon Ballroom. To those who aren’t familiar with the Chicago concert scene (if I didn’t live here I certainly wouldn’t be), then let me tell you that these two are very different venues. One is a large stadium that fits nearly 20,000 people and the other is a small, no-seating venue that maxes out at 5,000, so I’m expecting these two concerts to be very different experiences.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but if you couldn’t tell by the title, I am going to see 88rising at the concert. This Asian hip-hop media company/record label released a joint project a few months ago titled “Head In The Clouds”, which I reviewed here. If you have read it, you know that I gave it a very favorable review, and it’s high quality only made me more hyped to attend this shpw.
It is less than a week away now, so I decided it would be cool to list and explain some of my favorite songs from the label, not only to hype myself up more, but also to recommend some great music to my avid followers. There are eight acts that are supposed to play the tour–Rich Brian, Joji, Keith Ape, Higher Brothers, Kohh, NIKI, AUGUST 08, and Don Krez–so I will present to you my favorite song from each one of these artists, starting with Don Krez and ending with main headliner Rich Brian. I hope you all enjoy, and I hope to make my first concert review after I see the performance.
Don Krez: “Boomerang” (ft. Wifisfuneral & Ghostemane)
Don Krez is most likely the least known member of the tour lineup, mainly acting as an underground entrepreneur/promoter, but he has made some notable production, such as Rich Brian’s “watch out!” beat. On Apple Music, though, he has released three songs which he has handled production on. These include “Frontline” and “Droppin Bodies”, but his best is “Boomerang” with Wifisfuneral and Ghostemane. The production has a very underground style, but I feel like it can still be approachable for some mainstream listeners. The standout guest on here is Wifisfuneral, and while I said I didn’t like it when he brag-rapped on my 2018 XXL Freshman Class RANKED post, I do like the aggressive chorus he delivers. Ghostemane’s feature is less impressive, as I am not a fan of his yelping, strained delivery, but he is serviceable enough to make me like this song a lot. This is definitely a song for underground fans who like their trap dirty and grimy.
AUGUST 08: “Missed Calls”
AUGUST 08 stands out as 88rising’s only Non-Asian signee, but don’t let that detract you from his talent. His songwriting abilities have gotten him writing credits on songs like DJ Khaled’s “I’m The One“, and his voice is soulful and soothing. His best song, in my opinion, is “Missed Calls” from his debut project “FATHER”. The clanging percussion mixed with the ominous synths give this track a dark tone, which greatly juxtaposes most of the other songs on the project. AUGUST shows off his vocal chops on this song well, belting the chorus like it was the last thing he was ever going to sing. The lyrics, too, will attract any listeners that may have been turned off from it before, as its dirty themes will make hip-hop fans love it. I hope AUGUST 08 makes more songs like this, as I will listen to them all.
NIKI: “Say My Name”
While I do like NIKI’s voice and found her work on the “Head In The Clouds” tape to be exceptional, her solo work doesn’t hit as hard for me as some of the other artists on this list. She comes across as a safer version of Kali Uchis, and while she is also a great singer, there are many other people I would listen to before I turned her on. “Say My Name”, though, sticks out as the best of her discography, as the catchy chorus is easy to grasp. Her voice is as good as it is on her other songs, but I guess out of all her songs, this is the one I return to the most, so I have to mention this track here. While she might not be my favorite artist of this grouping, I still look forward with anticipation to her performance at the concert.
KOHH: “Living Legend”
To my knowledge, KOHH is the only artist in the lineup that is not actually signed to 88rising, but he is a prominent figure in the Japanese rap scene, and he helped Keith Ape earn his first bit hit with “It G Ma”, so he deserves to be performing with the rest in the list. Most of his music is sung in his native language, so while I don’t understand all of it, I would still say that “Living Legend” is my favorite track of his. The fast beat, backed by muddy synths and explosive percussion, help set up the aggressive mood that KOHH’s voice exaggerates. Out of his whole discography, this song makes me feel the most emotion; it’s a certified head-bopper, so I have to say it’s my favorite of his.
Higher Brothers: “Made In China” (ft. Famous Dex)
Higher Brothers are 88rising’s signature rap group, who have been making waves with songs like “Flo Rida” and “WeChat”, but my favorite track from them is their hit single “Made In China”. Again, much of it is in a language I do not understand, but the chorus they deliver is undoubtedly their best. It acts as a good brag-line for the chorus, but it also shows a direct connection between the group’s dominance in the Chinese rap scene and the dominance China has in the trading market. It’s a pretty clever comparison that makes the song very likable. While Famous Dex’s verse is pretty unnecessary (it’s hard to like him when the first two words he rhymes are “China” and “vagina”), it does not affect my love for this single.
Keith Ape: “Achoo” (ft. Ski Mask the Slump God)
Keith Ape reps the Korean area for 88rising, and while he is a good rapper on a technical level, I think much of his enjoyment comes from the guests he has on his songs. On this track, Ski Mask the Slump God (who is another rapper I talked about on my 2018 XXL post) assists Keith by delivering a memorable chorus and verse, using his fast flows and high-octane energy to great extents. The two have great chemistry, as the transition between artists is almost flawless. While you won’t be getting anything deep or profound from this song, it’s a great underground banger that stands toe-to-toe with songs by artists like XXXTENTACION.
Joji: “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”
Joji is one of the most popular performers of the lineup, boosting his music career off of his popularity from his YouTube personas Filthy Frank and Pink Guy. I had his EP in my Top 5 Best EPs Of All Time list, but his newest single stands out from all the songs on that project. While I am still a fan of all the songs from that EP, this single shows a great improvement in his style. The production is much more lively whilst still staying mournful and depressing enough to make the listener moody. Joji’s voice is also improved, as he delivers more power in his vocals than he has on every previous song. It is hard to not sing along to the potent, infectious chorus. I really hope this song is an indicator to the quality of his upcoming album, because if it is, I will probably be one of the best albums of the year.
Rich Brian: “Glow Like Dat”
And finally, last but not least, we have Rich Brian, whose sales prove him to be the most popular member of 88rising. Formerly known as Rich Chigga, his 2016 single “Dat $tick” shot him into international popularity, and he soon earned guest features from high profile names like Offset and XXXTENTACION. With all this fame, songs like “Glow Like Dat” ground Brian in reality, reminding us that he is still a normal human. “Glow Like Dat” is a love/heartbreak song with a unique string section and odd set of trap drum patterns. The track contains one of his best choruses, and hearing Brian open up to his audience like this is something of a treat, so this stands as my favorite song from him.
Thank you for reading my Best 88rising Songs list. If you liked this list, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future content. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.