being a bilingual hip hop fan, rappers who rap in languages other than english is a particular interest of mine, so i figured id create a thread for folks to contribute. specifically to spotlight Yung Raja, who’s the best Tamil-English rapper I’ve ever heard, but for other stuff too
this week been getting acquainted with southeast asian trap (malaysia/singapore) - very proud to see Yung Raja from singapore repping tamil and as a native speaker i can tell he knows the language at a deep level - making references to classic movies, hindu mythology, classical oratory, all kinds of stuff. here’s a freestyle supercut
just wanted to transcribe some of that first one, the end of this 16 is legit on par with anything i’ve heard from big L in the 90s. one thing that’s impossible to convey to a non-speaker, is using english slang literally translated into tamil as wordplay, e.g. “spit fire” becomes “neruppu thuppu” even tho in native tamil that makes no sense because ‘spit’ isn’t really used to mean ‘say’.
tamil rap hasn’t reaaally been a thing outside of some abortive attempts in the early 2000s, altho i will ride for this one yogi b x natchatra song. apparently now there’s a tamil trap music label in tamil nadu, they did a remix of a yung raja song that was worse.
contemporary korean rap (k-rap or krap, as i like to call it lovingly) I’ve been Listening to for up to a decade by now didn’t really bring forth a real superstar where I’d be following every release, so it probably is me who’s at fault here.
however, what i can always recommend is:
Epik High, which have been around a long, long time in K-time scale:
here doing a collab with artists you can use as a starting point to dig deeper.
their collab partners got more high profile over the years, e.g. getting IU to Feature, or CL from 2ne1 fame
Lee Young Ji up next, she seems to have a personality I’d normally not be a fan of, but liking her output.
The first bilingual rap group I ever listened to (and occasionally have in my rotation) is Delinquent Habits, a Spanish/English rap group whose members are of mixed Mexican descent. A big part of their early sound was sampling Mariachi horns:
Giant Pink made it through some TV shows (iirc, unpretty rapstar*) and, Miryo aside, is probably the most famous of the lot - just listen:
Bray, however, is rippin in those two ciphers. K Jun produced some other songs and has some cameos:
(alongside one of Red Velvet Mega-stars, no less)
Red Velvet means SM Music tho, and unfortunately, as soon as SM music got involved, Bray nosedived and … well … search for Movie on Weekend, not gonna post it here because it such a mess.
Or, just look at what they made out of Giant Pink
… well, at least there are some features
*: re unpretty rapstar:
Miryo as well as GP rockin’ here, but i recommend … staying away from the show itself, aside from an urge to experience cringey TV formats you never wanted to know about. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I’m a big fan of Japanese hip-hop - an obsession initially kick started by Japanese hip-hop SDP’s featured slot on De La Soul’s Buhloone Mindstate.
Scha Dara Parr are, of course, absolutely iconic - with a distinct sound that anyone would recognize from this Japanese Zelda commercial which was a staple repostable meme video on old web forums.
But far from goofy sell-outs, SDP are instead widely recognized as the godfathers of hip-hop in Japan, with their track Summer Jam '95 being a sort of small scale Japanese language stand-in for La Di Da Di - perpetually referenced, remixed, recycled, sampled, covered, and generally integrated so densely into the scene that it’s hard to know how far it’s been stretched.
Of course, La Di Da Di is universal and rears up in Japanese hip-hop too…
…but I’ll save my long-time-simmering written thoughts and unadulterated gushing about M-Flo for another post/thread.