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In late 2015, Grimes released her fourth album, Art Angels. On the third track, her voice gave way to a hyper-speed rap torrent -- in Mandarin. Enter Taiwanese femcee Aristophanes. For an introduction to a Western audience, this was a fortuitous start. Overnight, she was a desired commodity with curious fans scrambling to learn more. Unfortunately, most of the information on the Internet was in Chinese, making her online song postings the only taste new fans could get. Born Pan Wei-Ju in Taiwan, the artist also known as Li Mou (which translates to "civet") initially wanted to be a novelist. Until her rapping and artistry gathered momentum, she was a creative writing tutor in Taipei. Influenced by Western writers and thinkers from Milan Kundera and Bohumil Hrabel to Adler and Satir, she decided to leverage her love of the written word and try rapping. Her cultural literacy informed much of her lyrical density and philosophy, as she tackled topics like feminism, homophobia, national politics, traditional Chinese folk stories, and sexism in a male-dominated industry. There was a clarity to her cadence and her flow -- which whipped from seductive coo to growling and yelping -- unique for the Taiwanese hip-hop scene. She caught the ear of Grimes, who invited Aristophanes to take center stage on "Scream," which they eventually performed together live at Terminal 5 in New York in late 2015. In early 2016, Aristophanes released her debut EP, No Rush to Leave Dreams. The following year, she returned with the single "Humans Become Machines," produced by Grimes.
© Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo


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