“Lyrically, We’re Probably the Best in China”: @higherbrothers on Their Back-to-Back Chinese and American Fame
We’re the Higher Brothers, and we’re a rap group from Chengdu, China.
We met on the internet, through a social media music website similar to Soundcloud, but it’s called Wangyi. Before we were a group, we made music individually. Then we started making music together.
The first rap music we heard was on CD’s, because a lot of Chinese pop songs mix in some hip-hop style. Then, we started using the internet to find more hip-hop-style music. We loved everything about American hip-hop. We learned everything from this – music videos, movies, style, everything. When people look at us, they think we dress swag and cool, and that’s what we want. (The clothes) were ALWAYS oversized when we were younger – now we like to wear tight clothes.
We grew up listening to Nas, Big L , Big Daddy Kane… In the old days, the music was very different. Music is all the same now – there’s no East Coast or West Coast music. Everything’s connected because of the internet. In New York, you can make Dirty South music. In China, we make trap music!
In China, the only place you can see someone with tattoos or earrings or braids is by watching the NBA. We like rap, sneakers, and Jordans all because of basketball. Before rap music, we watched the NBA, and we would watch it every day when we woke up before school. We like the Rockets! Or the Kings – the purple! Allen Iverson is swag – he was the only one who kept it real in the NBA. We like James Harden too.
Some Chinese rap we like is by an artist named AsnrJ. We listened to his song “Chengdu Gangsta,” which was over Dr. Dre’s “What’s the Difference” beat. He rapped a story about a gangster robbing him. He used Chengdu(nese), which is a local dialect of Chinese. We thought that was really cool. There’s a legacy of rap in Chengdu that goes back more than ten years.
At first, only a few people would come to our shows, but now, we do a lot of shows in Chengdu. Back then, only 100 people would come – now there are at least 1,000 people. We’ve been doing it for a long time, and we’ve gained a lot of supportive fans.
In China, the mainstream may not be supportive, but within the rap community – the real fans – they know us. We’re pretty underground in China.
In May of 2016, we landed in Shanghai and opened an email from 88Rising. We were like, oh my god! From then on, we started to connect.
We feel the support here in the US, but that’s something new – a start. We can feel the American love, though. We’re respected by all different types of people in the streets of New York – there are people of all races saying what’s up and taking pics with us.
At one of our last shows in LA, Chief Keef came on stage with us, which was a fucking dream. We’ve loved Chief Keef for a long time, and that was just crazy. Atlanta surprised us as well – everyone was swag and dressed so cool. We liked the strip clubs too!
We just rap about whatever we’re feeling in the moment – lyrics about everyday life. We talk about milk sometimes – once, we were drinking it and it was so sweet, so we wanted to make a song about it. We write down our ideas, then go to the studio. We just want it to be natural.
We like interesting lyrics – we think we’re best at that. Lyrically, we’re probably the best in China. We don’t have a type of flow we favor. We make it all our own.
We don’t overthink things – we just want to live our lives and keep making our music better and better. When we’re back in China, we gotta take over everything. When we find success in America, we go back to China and just find more success. It just goes back-to-back, and we get bigger and bigger each time we go back and forth. Double, triple, back-to-back-to-back.
That’s how we do it.