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Review: 88rising Celebrate Hip-Hop Globalism on ‘Head In the Clouds’

The New York-based crew — which includes members from China, Japan Indonesia and South Korea — teams up with internet favs like 03 Greedo and Playboi Carti for a wide-ranging, up-to-the-minute sound.

The streaming age has – happily – broadened hip-hop’s boundaries, allowing U.S. and English-speaking listeners to easily discover how other cultures have put their own spin on the genre. The New York-centered collective 88rising is representative of hip-hop’s ascendant globalism: It includes acts from Indonesia (rapper Rich Brian and R&B singer NIKI), Japan (R&B singer Joji), China (the rap/pop group Higher Brothers) and South Korea (rapper Keith Ape), as well as L.A. artist August 08. The crew’s debut echoes of-the-moment sounds, particularly on the thumping trap of Higher Brothers, Rich Brian and August 08’s “Disrespectin” and the candied pop waves of NIKI and Joji’s “La Cienaga.” Higher Brothers easily glide between Chinese and English alongside Memphis rapper Blocboy JB on “Let It Go”; crew tracks like “Swimming Pool” and “Lover Boy 88” are further proof of how collectives like 88rising and Brockhampton are remaking pop-rap with ecstatic glee (and a bit of Glee). Cameos from Internet faves like 03 Greedo, Playboi Carti and Goldlink solidify this album’s wide-ranging appeal.

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