Hip-hop in Hong Kong is both a part of the city’s music scene since the first steps of hip-hop worldwide, and disconcertingly niche for a city of that scope. The very local crew LMF was amongst the pioneers of rap in the whole Chinese world, in the 90s, and had a remarkable success. On the other hand, none of what followed got popular enough to really be noticed, and the scene remained quite silent for almost 10 years. It is only recently that a new wave of Hong Kong rap is building up, and young artists start to have a solid base of fame, experienced, and productions to fuel the movement. Feeling the incoming tide, some venues start dedicating more and more space of their schedules to hip-hop. If all of these remain very grassroots and fragile, all artists agree on one point: “The scene has never been so vibrant”.
This guidebook is a series of articles to help the reader grasping the current state of the movement, its main players, and their music. It starts today with an overview of the scene at the time of writing.
At the time of writing, there is no place in Hong Kong that is fully dedicated to hip-hop. Here is a list of the most hip-hop friendly venues in town, but their line-up may vary from one event to another. Additionally, some venues which are not especially about hip-hop, or even music, might occasionally host among the biggest events in town as these might be organized by the artists themselves. The best way to find the hip-hop events happening in town is to follow the artists directly.
FLY – A club in LKF which hosts hip-hop events, DJs, and gigs regularly.
After Dark & Beyond – A basement club in LKF with an underground style which sometimes hosts hip-hop events, DJs, and gigs.
Racks – A pool bar-club in LKF which sometimes showcases hip-hop DJs.
Los Sotano – A latino bar-club in LKF which sometimes showcases hip-hop DJs and gigs.
OZU – A Japanese bar in LKF which plays quite a selection of the latest trap hits.
What follows is by no means a comprehensive list of the hip-hop artists in Hong Kong. There are rappers that have been influential in the movement who are not mentioned here, as they are not currently active. There also are rappers that are now active, but haven’t created much so far. This list gets together the most active and influential rappers in HK at the moment of writing.
Bakerie: Constituted of rapper and producer Dough-Boy, rappers Geniuz and Seanie P, and rapper-singer Tommy Grooves. If the four of them currently collaborate under the label of ‘Bakerie Music Productions’, they all conduct their own careers as well.
WildStyle Records: A crew which currently gather about ten artists of various styles and influence. Their music goes from Old-School boom bap with artists like Grymeman and Matt Force; trap with YoungQueenz and N.O.L.Y; lo-fi rap like Triple G; beatmaking like Floyd Cheung… These are the most active of the crew by the time of writing. WildStyle makes the most underground sound of the scene, at the moment.
24Herbs: Probably the oldest crew still playing in Hong Kong, they began in 2006 from the collaboration of various local hip-hop heads. Members include the rappers Phat and Kit who were both members of the OG crew LMF, the first hip-hop band in Hong Kong, and one of the first rap group in the Chinese world; rapper, DJ, and producer Ghost Style; rappers Drunk and SIR JBS; and producer Dor Yuk.
Xabitat: A newly formed trio quite active at the time of writing. Members are Kemikal Kris (from Nigeria), Wesley Jamison (from France), and Lord (from Benin). Kemikal Kris and Wesley Jamison already were doing music together under the name of Kris & Wes. The group is part of the super-crew Mama Told Me.
TXMIYAMA: AKA Jap-Boy, a Canada-born, originally Japanese, rapper going solo at the time of writing. His bars successfully blending English and Japanese are worth checking.
7on7: A 6-members crew of rappers from all over the world (Philippines, Togo, Colombia, Tanzania, and India) who started in 2017 only, but are probably the ones playing the most often in HK at the time of writing, despite too few releases so far.
MastaMic: A solo rapper, active since 2005, which got famous for his skills and fast flows.
Heyo: A solo rapper who releases mostly commercial music, but also makes hip-hop sometimes.
Skibs: An American-born rapper who made the buzz and stirred some controversy a couple of years ago around a clip that claimed to represent the ‘Hong Kong kids’, a claim with which some people took issue. He is much less visible today, but still active.
SAiNT CrossFade: A rapper of Filipino/Spanish origins, born in HK. He has been active for quite some time, although not as much recently as a few years ago. He is quite a skilled rapper, and notably one of the organizers of a series of cyphers worth checking. SCF is currently showcasing himself side-by-side with DJ Mojito.
Hong Kong’s rap scene faces today a penury of dedicated platforms. No major label is promoting local hip-hop, and there is no dedicated media.
This article was the first of a series about local hip hop. The next articles will go more in-depth into the genre, the history, and the scene. Stay tune!