Indonesian-born Rich Chigga, whose viral hit "Dat $tick" has racked up more than 50 million views online, is the principal -- and some say unlikely -- face of a new generation of edgy, young Asian hip-hop acts, whose growing popularity among US audiences is helping to subvert Asian music stereotypes.
"We want to push the culture forward," said 88 Rising head Sean Miyashiro. "We're not trying to break stereotypes or change people's mindsets. We're showing people what we can do, by doing what we do."
Miyashiro, a Japanese-Korean Brooklynite, founded the label in early 2016 after leaving his job at Vice Media's electronic music platform Thump. "At first it's a wild visual to see, somebody Asian rapping that way, killing it in a video," said Miyashiro of the label's appeal.
The company, which is known for its slew of massive viral video hits and collaborations with established American artists such as Ghostface Killah and Skrillex, has reached a sort of cult status among fans, especially those in Asia.
"Our artists and our brand is the most influential in Asia because we aren't coming from some manufactured pop machine. We are the tip of the sphere of a new face of music," said Miyashiro. "The reason for that is we are the first label that actually is making impact in the West and East."
Japanese-Korean Brooklynite Sean Miyashiro
Straight outta China
But 88 Rising acts are not the first Asian faces to make inroads in America.
"It was good that Jin and people like that existed to trailblaze the way, but it's a completely different era now," said Miyashiro. "I think with social media, people are used to seeing Asian people in general ... and the world is more open."
Compared with MC Jin's debut single "Learn Chinese," Higher Brothers' online hit "Made in China" offers more of a nuanced take on modern Asian identity. Both songs mix English and Chinese lyrics, but the Higher Brothers go deeper, poking fun at themselves. (Sample lyric: "My chains, new gold watch, made in China. We play ping-pong ball, made in China.") In the video, which has so far racked up more than 3 million hits on YouTube, they don China Olympics track suits and Chun Li-style buns, all the while rapping in a slow Dirty South-like drawl.
We're "straight outta China!" said band member MasiWei of the band's unique style and attitude, adding that "nothing" is off limits to the group.
Higher Brothers, who have four singles off their latest album "Black Cab," attribute their new-found popularity with American audiences to 88 Rising.
"It's so exciting. We're all Asian, but we have a different culture and style," said MasiWei, of working with the label.
The 24-year-old added that while language can sometimes be a barrier, their goals are "the same."
Chengdu rap crew HIgher Brothers
"Generally, people are very supportive," said Rich Chigga, who is ethnically Chinese. "When I came to America [for his summer five-city tour] and I met with all these rappers I talked to online, they showed a lot of love ... There was probably just a few racist YouTube comments, but that was really it."
Brian Imanuel, better known as "Rich Chigga," in Miami
In some ways, their paths seem to be easier than their Asian-American counterparts'.
Joji, Keith Ape and Rich Chigga
88 Rising is also bringing American artists to Asia.
"People are coming to us to collaborate now. We're the