Although Asian hip-hop has been around since the 1980s, it would have been difficult to compile a list of the best Asian American rappers even 20 years later. The emergence of keen Asian rap fans has come with industry growth. Keep reading to learn about the best Asian American rappers.
Besides rapping, Apl.de.ap runs a production label and a charity foundation. He got his success through involvement in a street rap group. Different from most rappers, he embraced performing with a live band. Furthermore, his style was nothing like that of other underground gangster rappers.
In 2011, the rapper dropped his first mixtape, followed by two singles in 2012. His record label came into the business in 2014 to sign Asian artists and give them an American style through collaborations with other hip-hop stars.
The rapper has expressed his desire to mentor his signees while offering them positive criticism. He also wishes to share his personal experiences, including what he’s gone through in the entertainment industry and what it takes to achieve one’s goals.
Since his first appearance in 2001, the rapper has worked up to become a global figure. He doesn’t shy from showcasing his culture and has many songs in his native language. His recognition increased after becoming a signee of a renowned record label. Under their management, the rapper’s first album had over two hundred thousand sales.
In the early stages of his career, his debut single also earned widespread recognition prompting the label’s interest in signing him. The rapper has also made several appearances on TV shows and films. For the rapper’s followers, his swift journey to prominence is iconic because it all began with participation in rap competitions.
Jin’s passion for rap music grew when he was a child. After leaving high school, he decided to channel his focus into rapping. Today, he’s among the most commercially successful rappers.
Fahd Azam, better known as Mr. Capone-E, was born in 1976. The rapper has been in the game for over two decades and runs a record label. At some point, he got into crime, a move that saw him spend some time behind bars. The detention pushed him to take his rapping more seriously, but he didn’t drop his first album until 2000.
A renowned record label took notice of the album’s popularity and sealed a three-year contract with the rapper. He dropped his second album under their management in 2001. Later, in 2003, his third album came out, arguably one of his best productions. The rapper is still active and has done multiple collaborations with different artists.
Bohemia was born in 1979 and began his career as a singer, songwriter, and rapper in 2001. Today, many consider him to be one of the best Pakistani rappers. When he was barely thirteen years old, his parents relocated to the United States, where he became attached to rap music.
He released his first album, Vich Pardesan De (Among Foreigners), only a year after joining the industry. His other albums include Pesa Nasha Pyar (Money, Intoxication, Love), Da Rap Star, Thousand Thoughts, and Skull & Bones: The Final Chapter.
Though he’s been around for a while, Dumbfoundead never stops releasing hot tracks as a solo artist. He’s part of the Korean comm
unity on the West Coast, particularly in Los Angeles’s K-Town scene, and also incorporates his culture into his songs.
His Grindtime freestyle battles, particularly one against Tantrum, gave him his first breakthrough on YouTube. As evidenced by his latest singles, “All Alone,” “Inside,” and “Outside,” the rapper successfully transitioned his sound into a more relaxed and chill vibe without sacrificing his beautiful flow.
If you enjoy Keith Ape’s music, you should thank Okasian because he enlisted the “It G Ma” hitmaker for his rap group, The Cohort. After his 2015 appearance on “It G Ma,” he began to receive greater recognition in the United States.
Okasian is unique in that he sounds more like less aggressive 21 Savage. “Get That Money” and “Walkin (Remix)” remain among the rapper’s successful releases.
Mountain Brothers is a hip-hop band comprising Chinese-American rappers Chops, Peril-L, and Styles Infinite. While they’re not so much in the mainstream arena, Asian rap and hip-hop fans recognize them as the genre’s trendsetters.
The band’s most successful track is “Paperchase,” released in 1999, with more than 85,000 streams on Spotify. They made history by signing with a big record label (Ruffhouse Records) in 1996, rendering them the first Chinese-American rap group to reach such a milestone.
The group split up in 2013, with only Chops remaining in the game. He has collaborated with iconic hip-hop figures like Chamillionaire and Lil Wayne.
Junoflo is a Southern California native who attended UC San Diego before devoting himself to rapping. Soon after graduation, he flew to South Korea, where he quickly rose to fame after appearing on the popular South Korean rap reality TV show “Show Me the Money.”
Besides launching his career, the show earned him a record deal. Junoflo returned to the United States and released a new Smiles and Tribulations album featuring Korean American rapper G2 in 2021.
Rekstizzy has been in the rap industry for some time now. In 2016, the rapper appeared in the documentary “Bad Rap,” featuring Lyricks, Awkwafina, and Dumbfoundead. On June 24, 2021, he released his first Korean album, Killer Smile.
The rapper’s ultimate goal is to feature on the cover of the most popular rap magazine without losing his underground appeal. His most recent release, “Whatever You Say,” was voted one of the best American albums. His goal was for everybody to acknowledge that an Asian face is an American face.
Ted was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. His family went to Korea for a year when he was in eighth grade. Then, he began to appreciate music as a means of coping with culture shock and loneliness. When the rapper returned to the US for high school, he would drop freestyles and homemade music videos to establish himself.
Later, the rapper dropped out of school before his senior year and took a bus to New York City. He spent some time homeless, but his breakthrough came after releasing two records titled “Hello, Who Is This?” and “Me Love.” The songs became internet sensations in the same year. The rapper is unique in that he switches between styles without losing his signature sound.
New Jersey’s native Roy Kim, better known as Snacky Chan or just Chan, has his roots in Boston, but he presently lives in New York City. The rapper has worked with other artists like Jin and GZA.
He dropped his debut album Politickin w/ Chan/ Big in Japan in September 2001 under Detonator Records. The rapper was a nominee for Best New Rap/Hip-Hop Act at the 2001 Boston Music Awards. He dropped a second album titled Part of the Nation (2004) under his record label Dynasty Muzik.
In February 2005, the rapper dropped a music video for his single “Lonely Road,” becoming his first-ever song with video production. Chan is still active in the game and has numerous collaborations.
Filipino-American rapper and activist Bambu (real name Jonah Deocampo) was born in Los Angeles, California. The rapper’s involvement with criminal gangs saw him go to jail at only 16 years.
Bambu’s songs often address social issues such as economic disparity, racial discrimination, and extrajudicial killings. His music frequently references left-wing leaders, such as Karl Marx and Mao Zedong. For instance, his album I Scream Bars For The Children (2007) has a track titled “Chairman M.” In 2020, he dropped a seven-track album titled Sharpest Tool In The Shed.
Dane Amar is a producer, singer, songwriter, and rapper who makes a distinct blend of hip-hop, R&B, and Pop. He dubs his music “Disney Heartbreak Pop.” His songs integrate raw and gloomy lyrics with uplifting chord changes.
The rapper began recording music at the age of 12. He developed his signature fusion style after purchasing a midi keyboard and learning pop chord progressions in 2014.
In 2017, Dane dropped his first self-produced album, Yellow Umbrella, referencing the popular TV show “How I Met Your Mother.” The album did receive Twitter appreciation from the show’s creators.
Roscoe is a Filipino rapper from Koreatown, Los Angeles. His Filipino heritage is essential to who he is, and he has spent a lot of time in Korea working with the band Drunken Tiger.
Roscoe’s lyrics and style are influenced by LA gangster bounce, rendering him one of the rappers with the best commercial style on this list.
Audrey Chu, popularly known as Audrey Nuna, is an American R&B singer and rapper. She found her breakthrough into the mainstream scene after releasing her single tracks “Comic Sans (2019)” and “Damn Right (2020).”
Born and raised in New Jersey, the rapper took a break from studies to concentrate on her music career. Her music is renowned for fusing different styles, including pop, R&B, rap, and trap. She’s currently under Sony Music Entertainment’s Arista Records.
Park Jun-Won, famously known as pH-1, is among the most successful Asian-American rappers. In 2017, he signed a record deal with H1ghr music. In 2018, he appeared on Show Me the Money 777, gaining widespread recognition.
The rapper dropped his first single track, “Wavy,” in 2016. Later in 2017, his first extended play, “The Island Kid,” came out. The rapper dropped his first album HALO in 2019, while his second album, titled But for Now, Leave Me Alone, came out in 2022.
Paolo Rodriguez, professionally known as P-Lo, is a Filipino-American rapper in Bay Area, California. The rapper began making music in the 2000s while still in school. In 2008, he co-founded the HBK Gang (the Heartbreak Gang). In 2013, he released the mixtape MBMGC 2.
In 2017, the rapper dropped his debut album, More Than Anything, a big collection of club-ready tracks. His subsequent album, titled Prime, came out in 2018. He then returned in 2019 with an EP titled Somthin’ Light.
Yoonmirae is among the best Asian American female rappers and is part of the hip-hop band MFBTY. Yoon made her breakthrough in 2001 under the name “T” with the release of her first album titled As Time Goes By.
Later in 2002, she released two albums, Gemini and To My Love. In 2013, her track “Touch Love” came at number one on Billboard’s Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart. Her single “Angel” topped four different charts in Korea in 2014.
Killagramz (real name Lee Joon-hee) is a Korean-American rapper born in 1992. He participated in Show Me the Money 5, earning him recognition in the mainstream hip-hop scene.
The rapper dropped his debut album titled Faint in 2017. His most successful hits include “Birthday” featuring Kidkat and “Dirty Dog.”
Jay Pak, better known as Flowsik, was born in 1985 in Queens, New York. The rapper made his debut with the hip-hop group Aziatix in 2011. His first track, “The Calling,” came out in 2015. In 2016, he was a contender on the fifth season of Show Me the Money. In 2017, he dropped the hit “Wrath of God,” featuring Teri Miko and Varien.
Jessi was born in 1988 in New York and grew up in New Jersey. Jessi was among the co-founders of hip-hop groups Uptown and Lucky J but left.
The rapper came into the limelight in 2005 after releasing her first album, Get Up. Her second album, titled The Rebirth, came out in 2009, after which she left the scene for a short while.
Raymond Yu, known by his stage name China Mac, is a rapper, performer, activist, and ex-gang member. 2017 saw the release of his debut album titled MITM. He became a vocal critic of Lil Pump’s single Butterfly Doors in 2018 for using a discriminatory ching chong slur.
In 2019, he dropped the dual EP Yin and Yang. As part of his activism, the rapper dropped the song “They Can’t Burn Us All” in 2020.
Born in 1988, Ruby Ibarra doubles up as a rapper and producer from San Lorenzo, California. Her raps center on her heritage and identity as a Filipina in the US. In 2015, the rapper signed a deal with Beatrock Music.
Come 2017, she dropped her debut album Circa 1991, under the label’s management. In 2018, she appeared in a television ad for MasterCard’s Start Something Priceless campaign.
Top Asian American Rappers Of All Time, Final Thoughts
Undoubtedly, the Asian rap culture is flourishing. Even though American and European rappers dominate the market, assuming they’re the only ones is wrong. There has been a steady rise in Asian rappers over the past few years, with their music penetrating the mainstream and underground scenes. We hope you enjoyed reading our list of the best Asian American rappers.