Why 88Rising is the Next Big Wave in Pop Culture from Asia

09-30-2019Michael Vitug and Kelly Nguyen

Growing up a hip-hop fan in the ‘90s, Sean Miyashiro was waiting for artists that looked like him and break into the scene. Fast forward to 2015, Miyashiro founded 88rising and created a platform for Asian talent to be recognized and celebrated globally in the hip-hop genre. From signing Keith Ape whose breakout single “It G Ma” made history in the Asian rap scene to Indonesian rapper, Rich Brian’s viral single with “Dat $tick” in early 2016, 88rising has gained fans all over the world. The company further secured its audience with its roster of breakthrough artists from Indonesia, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Canada.

“88rising is a constant daily evolution” - Founder Sean Miyashiro.

Defining 88rising as just a record label or a management company is quite misleading. This past August marked the second year of 88rising’s Head in the Clouds music festival. The event is the first Asian-centric music festival established in the U.S. The 2019 one-day festival drew over 23,000 festival-goers. In addition, the company also releases social content using platforms like Youtube. Their channel consists of reaction videos from established Western rappers and even cooking videos featuring their very own artists.

Head in the Clouds music festival, image from Billboard

88rising’s most recent endeavor is fashion. They have collaborated with Guess and Japanese artist Sorayama for an exclusive clothing line that debuted during this year’s Head in the Clouds festival. From talent management, to event and content producers, to fashion collaborations, 88rising continues to expand boundaries--finding new creative platforms to further engage and connect with both their artists and audiences at a comprehensive level.


Chinese-Canadian artist & rapper, Kris Wu & American rapper & song writer, Travis Scott performing their collaboration song, “Deserve” live.  Image from Insight

Miyashiro was able to tap into the unexplored world of Asian hip-hop talent and gave his artists a pedestal to make a name for themselves in the mainstream world. Asian fans rarely saw artists who look like them stand alongside established rappers like Travis Scott, 21 Savage, and Ski Mask the Slump god while they were growing up. Yet 88rising was able to make it happen. These collaborations with some of the biggest established Western stars added to 88rising’s legitimacy in the hip-hop stage and their success into the U.S. market.


  • Asians are at the forefront of trends. Asian creatives are stepping into the music scene and are garnering rapid interest from fans globally. 88rising is continuing that success and has created a platform for their artists to tell their own stories. 88rising’s increasing popularity has made it possible to close the gap between minorities and the mainstream media.
  • Brands need to start recognizing Asian success. Rolling Stone called the Head in the Clouds festival that was held in Los Angeles the “Asian Coachella.” According to Forbes, this year’s event costed roughly $1M dollars to produce but is expected to generate $3M in revenue. This is huge considering that this is just the second year that Head in the Clouds has taken place.
  • There is a broad global appeal. Considering the multicultural landscape now, 88rising is mainstream. Talent is not limited by borders and audiences are global. 88rising is a reflection of our new worldview, in which musical influences flows from different parts of the world and appreciated en masse.