The Higher Brothers
When: May 25, 8 p.m.
Where: Venue, 881 Granville
Tickets and info: $45.03 at ticketweb.ca
As the de facto music of international youth, it was only a matter of time before a hip hop evolution came to China. Chengdu crew The Higher Brothers are at the vanguard of a burgeoning scene that is going global. Purists can discuss the relative merits of trap as a rap genre.
There is no arguing that the delivery of MaSiWei, DZ Know, Melo and Psy P on the group’s breakout single Black Cab is as distinctive as any other MCs.
The group isn’t going through the motions. From it’s subject matter — Black Cab is all about the illegal taxi trade in the band’s hometown of Chengdu — to the copious tattoos and braids and sporty high-tops, they are in the game to stay. At a time of strained trade relations between the United States and China, the Higher Brothers are on the road selling out shows across North America.
Is Chinese rap poised to become the next musical cultural export from Asia, joining K-Pop in the international charts?
Postmedia spoke to Ma Siwei, a.k.a. MaSiWei, the 24 year-old leader of the band, about the group, the Chinese rap scene and Chengdu pride.
Q: Rap music is well-known for its regional hybrids with Atlanta hip hop sounding different from Houston or New Orleans, New York, etc. Does The Higher Brothers sound come straight outta Chengdu? As in, is it different from rap from Beijing or elsewhere?
Q: Chengdu is different, Chengdu has its own dialect, and the lifestyle is different. So what we express is different. In Beijing their music is more struggle-based, we are more lifestyle-based — that’s why we rap about 7/11 and WeChat.
Q: You are coming to Canada on tour in support of your second album Five Stars. On it, you collaborate with Soulja Boy, Ski Mask the Slump God and Rich Brian. Who else would the band like to work with?
A: A$AP Rocky, Rich The Kid, Migos and J.Cole.
Q: Vice called the group “Chinese Hip-Hop’s Greatest Hope.” But The Higher Brothers are looking to become big everywhere aren’t you?
A: Our goal is much bigger — we want our music to be heard all around the world. We want to use our music to give people positive energy everywhere.
Q: Black Cab broke the group internationally and certainly established it but I’m interested in 7/11 which is so totally different. How does the group find inspiration for its songs?
A: We find inspiration from our lives, what we talk about, from music, movies, etc.
Q: Trap seems to be the dominant style in China at the moment, what do you think will come next?
A: Trap and hip hop are still new in China, I don’t know what’s coming next but we like experimenting with new sounds.