NINNO is a Filipino poet and wordsmith, whose debut album Third Culture Kid received positive reviews. His influences include Rakim, Aesop Rock, Eminem as well as video game music and rock. With a distinct hip hop and electronic-fueled sound that demands to be listened to, NINNO naturally commands the crowd as an enigmatic, high-energy performer who is also a storyteller and creator of his own world. NINNO is also part of Filipino hiphop outfit Shadow Moses, together with beatsmith MurderDeathKill and Six the Northstar and also helms the leadership at Logiclub, a creative collective of producers, musicians, DJs and artists based in Manila. 2017 will see the release of NINNO’s sophomore album, Confessions of Dangerous Entities.


Chinese hip hop & rnb artist Lexie (刘昱妤 려위위) was a contestant on popular K pop show, “K Pop Star 5” where she made it to the top 4. She recently collaborated with Korean-American rapper Nafla on her debut single, “Coco made me do it”. In fact, many have also likened to being China’s Rihanna. She is currently signed to Hot Sauce Music Group.


UFO is a newcomer to the Thai hip hop scene originally from Lamphun, Thailand. As he grew older, he started to get inspired by Thai underground hip hop label 8GARAD in Chiangmai. Currently a student at Rangsit University in Thailand, 2017 will see UFO who counts popular rapper J.Cole as a huge influence, working on his debut album.


P$J is currently one of Thailand’s hottest rappers from Thaibeats records.  
Hailing from Songkhla, located on the South of Thailand led to him being influenced by popular Thai hip hop crew, Southside which allowed him to kickstart his career into hip hop music.


Youngohm is a member of the Ekamai Raiders hip hop crew in Thailand. He plans to make the shift from remixing songs to producing his own original beats in 2017. Youngohm counts Thai rapper Illslick, as well as international rappers J.Cole, Bryson Tiller & The Weeknd as his influences.


Quaimo is a South Korean rapper dropped his lit debut mixtape ‘G.U.R.N’ under the Prima Music Group label, helmed by producer Primeboi. Quaimo is also a member of Korean hip hop crew 크림빌라 (Cream Vanilla).

Đen Vâu

Underground rapper Đen Vâu had his first hit song in late 2015 with “Đưa Nhau Đi Trốn” featuring Linh Cáo of the rap group Chicken & Fox. Đưa Nhau Đi Trốn is a song that quickly became popular online with the Vietnamese youth for its relatable theme about wanting to run away with your love one and escaping the drudgery of everyday life. Đen Vâu’s musical style can be best described as a smooth and relaxed rap style similar to the style pioneered by West Coast rappers like Snoop Dogg. With the recent release of his first mixtape KOBUKOVU, which stands for Không Buồn Không Vui (Not Sad Not Happy), Đen Vâu is in a position to shake up the Vietnamese rap scene in 2017 with his G-funk-inspired songs that would make West Coast pioneer Dr. Dre and the new king of West Coast rap Kendrick Lamar proud.


95Generation (95G)

New Vietnamese rap group 95Generation (95G) first started making noise in the Vietnamese rap scene in 2016 with songs like SG Homie squad and Nam Kỳ Flow. This Saigon-based rap group is looking to put Southern hip-hop on the map. Taking cues from other Asian rappers like Keith Ape and KOHH, 95G is bringing the sounds of the Dirty South to Vietnam. 95G is one of the most promising upcoming names to look out for in 2017. With their first year as a rap group under their belt and a year grinding it out in a newly constructed studio, 95G looks ready to bring the heat in 2017 with some brand new Vietnamese trap tracks.


Saigonese rapper LDleKING of the rap group SouthGanz (Wowy, Nah, LDleKING) is looking to make a comeback in 2017. Now living in the United States, this rapper now known as Trappy Donny is looking to bring that H-Town swag to the Asian rap scene. With a newly released music video for his song “Châu Á Trẻ,” a song about being a young Asian in America, LDleKING continues to rep his Asian pride for all the world to see. Like 95G, Trappy Donny seeks to bring Southern Saigonese trap to the forefront. Trappy Donny’s newest mixtape was released free on SoundCloud last month, making LDleKING a rapper to look out for in 2017.

ZDev Feat. PhunkyFeel

I have to admit, I do love some good old Beijing rap. Ever since the first time I heard “The roots” by two young artists ZDev Feat. PhunkyFeel (LaFamilia R.O.C. crew) I felt some good vibes, and I’ll love to hear more from them in the future. With a simple and naïve approach they give us a sense of trueness. The stress on the roots, their own roots, Beijing, but also the roots of the music they love (the beat echoing the typical chilly jazzy sound of New York rap in the Golden Age), shows us that Purple Soul already have some talented scholars following their path, for the quest of bringing back the purest hip hop of the origins.

Tam Ka PKL

Vietnamese rap group Tam Ka PKL consisting of JGKiD (Thơm), KraziNoyze (Khoa), and EmceeL (Long) had the honor of being nominated for the favorite underground artist award by WeChoice in 2016. With their new found fame thanks to the popularity of their song “Bài Ka Tuổi Trẻ,” these three rappers from Hanoi are bringing a new flavor to the Vietnamese rap scene with their reggae-inspired brand of hip-hop. Will Tam Ka PKL’s more mild and relaxed approach to rap lead them to success in 2017? Only time will tell, but Tam Ka PKL have easily established themselves as artists to look out for in 2017.


U180 is a hip hop crew made up of rappers 捷克, 能嫩 and producer Chopurmind from Hangzhou, China. They released their EP “The Theory of Evolution” in late 2016 and have been nominated in the Abilu 2016 awards – China’s annual premiere music awards show. Apart from hip-hop, listen out for the fresh funk elements that’s always present in their songs.Using  philosophical lyrics and “modern funk” beats to create a new world through 3 songs “lazy us fuck”,”reboot” and ”the last of us”. In this world, humans go astray by the developing of technology and destroying the planet. Follow U180 on their journey as they try hard to find way to “reboot” and create something new.


The Cali’ based photographer turned rapper Junoflow is a lyricist to be taken seriously. Influenced by the Jazzier corners of hip-hop, the former SMTM5 contestant honed his skills after meeting KillaGramz back in High School and even recorded with him during stint at Yonsei University. However, the artists career really began after gaining attention online following a tribute to late  influence Nujabes. Now signed with pioneer Tiger JK’s Feel Ghood Music, his sound has evolved and with an album set for release in 2017 the artist seems perfectly poised to make this year a big one.


T- Pablow is an exciting artist who reflects the edgier side of city life. Having grown up in the Kawasaki neighbourhood of Buraku, his music reflects the challenges of growing up in a heavily polluted and difficult side of town.

Rapping with twin brother Yzerr under the name 2win, the two share tales of illegal adventures and Yakuza shedding light on the face of Japanese youth culture rarely exposed. T-Pablow and his sibling are also part of a wider musical family Bad Hop, a crew formed with friends from his high-school.

As well as being an accomplished recording artist T-Pablow has a fierce reputation among the Japanese rap battle circuit competing on reputable platforms such as ‘Summer Bomb; and ‘Freestyle Dungeon’ against the scenes leading names. Expect more thrilling battles and collabs with the crew from the Kawasaki native later this year.

Jony J

After several remarkable mixtapes, from 2013’s JHOOD to 2016’s “物女金” (Materialism, Girls, Money), this guy, whose Chinese stage name means “bean sprout” (豆芽) actually sprouted into becoming the most prominent rapper from Nanjing. With a clean and smooth flow, good master of technique, high quality of the productions and predilection for lyrics about reality, consciousness and inner feelings are the ingredients we can find in songs like “My City” feat. Jie Gu, ”Belief”, “I’m not Kool” and “Change” feat. Damnshine. Recently Jony J seems willing to approach trap music, but always with his own style and with attention to the quality of the music, as we can notice in song “Fantasy” feat. Lexie.


C-Block is a rap crew based in Changsha, Hunan Province. Active since 2007, they have been delivering some fine hardcore rap combined with Chinese traditional music and kungfu movies soundtracks. A sort of Mandarin version of Wu Tang Clan! Even though deeply rooted on their own birthplace culture (they often rap in Hunan local dialect), they are well-known among underground fan throughout China. Damnshine (大傻) is the front man, who features several collaborations with top rappers across the country, but recently also crew member Kungfu-Pen (功夫胖) got greater attention thanks to a solo album and to a powerful hit, “The Master of the future”, cover of a famous 80’s rock song. Lately the trio released two new songs, “Kill the ninjia”, and “The flow of Jiang-Hu”, confirming them as one of most convincing hardcore rap crews in China nowadays.

Additional contribution from Fabio Nalin(Hip Hop in China) Lex’s Asian Rap World, Rap is Now and VpopFan.


Jillian Tan

View all posts