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An international media collective and record label focusing on Asian talents, 88rising was founded in 2015 by Sean Miyashiro and fosters Asian artists like Indonesian musicians Rich Brian and Niki, Japan-born singer/songwriter Joji, Chinese rap foursome Higher Brothers, and more. Building their grassroots empire with focused fan interaction and international culture festivals, the label also promoted their roster with the Head in the Clouds compilations and even handled soundtrack duties for 2021's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Initially known as CXSHXNLY, the collective's early signees were Filipino-American singer/dancer Brian Puspos, Korean-American rapper Jonathan Park (fka Dumbfoundead), and Josh Pan. After Pan discovered Keith Ape's "It G Ma," Miyashiro recruited A$AP Ferg, Waka Flocka Flame, and Dumbfoundead for a remix, which later went viral. Rebranding as 88rising in 2016, they drafted other viral acts to join the team, including Rich Brian, who found early success with his viral single "Dat $tick"; Joji, the artistic outlet for one-time Internet jokester George Miller; and the Mandarin-speaking trap quartet Higher Brothers from Chengdu, China. 88rising later enlisted Indonesian singer NIKI, Japanese singer Rina Sawayama, Japanese-American hip-hop producer Sen Morimoto, and Los Angeles-bred R&B singer August 08. 88rising spent 2018 touring the world, focusing on Asian markets along with a U.S. trek. To coincide with the journey, they released a debut single as 88rising, "Midsummer Madness," which racked up millions of streams. The track landed on the debut compilation Head in the Clouds, which featured a wealth of guests such as Yung Bans, 03 Greedo, BlocBoy JB, Playboi Carti, and more. The label's first inaugural music festival, also dubbed Head in the Clouds, was held in Los Angeles that year, showcasing an Asian-centric roster that included Zion T, Duckwrth, Laff Traxx, and the 88rising crew. The concert was such a success that another was held less than a year later. The second installment starred members of the roster including Rich Brian, Joji, and Higher Brothers, as well as K-pop group Ikon and Indonesian singer Stephanie Poetri. A sequel compilation, Head in the Clouds II, landed the same year, and included the hit "These Nights." In 2020, notable releases from Niki (Moonchild) and Joji (Nectar) kept the brand at the forefront as the COVID-19 pandemic delayed live Head in the Clouds festival dates. Online versions -- Asia Rising Forever and Double Happiness -- were also streamed that year, with a dedicated 88rising satellite radio station for Asian artists launching that December. As restrictions began to ease and live music returned, 88rising earned a slot at the 2022 installment of Coachella, showcasing K-pop greats CL and 2NE1, Japanese pop icon Hikaru Utada, and roster favorites Jackson Wang, Warren Hue, and more. Sell-out tours from Niki and Joji also accompanied critically-acclaimed releases from each artist.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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