Open Your Mind: Global Hip Hop 101

Travelling is one of the greatest ways to enhance your perspective on life. But plane tickets can be expensive and very few ever get enough vacation days to travel. The internet has had some negative effects on humanity but one of its most positive accomplishments is bridging that gap between cultures on a global scale. Music is universal and can also cross cultural barriers, uniting listeners through melody. But what about lyrics? How can I enjoy music I can’t understand? Well sit back and relax as I dive into why you should still give music from other countries a listen even if you can’t understand a word they’re saying.

Hip Hop is not just an American thing and has spread like wildfire throughout the globe much earlier than we give it credit. Trap music has been dominating the charts not just in the states but in other countries as well. If you love the vibes and dirty base from Trap aficionados like Travis Scott and Migos then you really need to widen your horizons to artists outside the U.S. Although 88rising is an American based production company, their roster is comprised of some of the most popularity Asian rappers on the map right now. Higher Brothers and Keith Ape have both been featured on numerous tracks with American rappers like Famous Dex and Wifisfuneral. These banger generators don’t need an English feature for you to enjoy their music, however, and despite the fact that most of their music videos have English subtitles, listeners can still head nod to their catchy beats. Music in different languages requires you to look up the lyrics in English and although that means putting in a bit more effort, I highly recommend you try it

Before I get further into this I strongly recommend you subscribe to Colors, a youtube channel that is absolutely dominating the youtube sphere with new and up and coming artists from all over the globe. Their most recent session features an Italian rapper named Nitro who literally sets fire to the booth with some of the fastest bars I have ever heard. Let’s hone in on two countries in Europe that I believe are killing the hip-hop game right now but still haven’t made big enough splashes in America yet.

First up, France. Some backstory. I took a total of 8 years of French in school starting in Middle School. My school system was the weirdest out there, and we ended up taking 4 years of Chinese in elementary before we could choose between French or Spanish. When I first started learning French I was obsessed with hip-hop and because of this, my French teacher turned me onto MC Solaar. This man is a legend in the French rap game and for good reason. The boom bap production coupled with witty and punchy lyricism had me listening to this man nonstop. I could barely understand the words but it made me appreciate them more because I had to research them. It also made me appreciate the beats more because they cared the song for me on first listen without the lyrics deciphered. French rap has grown exponentially since the late 90s and has even adopted the trap wave so definitely, don’t sleep on artists like Booba and Kaaris.

If you’ve lived under a rock your whole life then you probably haven’t heard of Grime. I really don’t understand why British rap hasn’t exploded in America yet. British rappers have been killing it for years now but simply don’t get the acclaim they deserve in the states. Yes, their accents make it difficult to understand their lyrics but that really shouldn’t stop you from quality hip hop. Big Shaq made waves in the states due to his meme-worthy parody of Grime which I really thought would open up the floodgates for American hip-hop fans. Sadly I was disappointed and it seems like a lot of American rap fans are still in the dark when it comes to rappers from across the pond. I have had my eyes glued to British rap for a while now from underground to mainstream, from Kojey Radical to Tinie Tempah. But now, in 2018, I really believe there is no excuse for rap fans to ignore some of these artists coming up the pipeline regardless of where you’re from.  Not3s is putting out lovely trap and R&B infusions. Stormzy has been dominating the charts for years with bars of steel. In the same vein, we have Mist who just as heavy with lyrical bars and bangers. Some honorable mentions to check out are Dave, IAMDDB, and AJ Tracey. I don’t want to get into too many name drops because there are just too many names to drop. Go do some research. You will thank me later. Never let differences stop you from experiencing new things.

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