Photography Zhuzi

in a rare interview, higher brothers rank their favourite 7-11 snacks

China’s biggest rap crew provide quick fire As to our Qs.

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Nov 22 2017, 1:13pm

Photography Zhuzi

Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province is fucking old. It’s been there since the 4th century BC and is currently famous for facilitating giant panda sex at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. That and being the home of cHiNa’S bIgGeSt RaP cReW and their pet cat. Biggest as in best, and best as in; their debut album Black Cab showcases some of the most well-produced high-energy hip-hop we’ve heard this year, their videos rack up millions of views, and they’re even more famous in the western world than they are in their home country.

Higher Brothers are named after the electrical brand Haier Group’s totally adorable, possibly gay mascot boys, a pair of robot kids created by a wizard that, in an accompanying cartoon made in 1995, travel around the world exploring unknown cultures and trying to prevent natural disasters. Or something. Unlike the underdressed mascots, our favourite Chinese rap foursome (Masiwei, Psy.P, Dzknow, and Melo) are yet to go on a world tour -- but it’s close. With NY-based purveyors of Asian music 88rising on board, the future of Higher Brothers is looking bright as hell, with their first US shows on the horizon for 2018.

“Rap music? China? What are they even saying?” opens their Richie Souf-produced single Made In China ft. Chicago rapper Famous Dex. The video, which is currently sitting at almost 7 million views on YouTube, sticks a middle finger up to Asian stereotypes while pointing out that literally all your favourite shit comes from their country. Last Christmas, their gift to us was 7-11, a festive love song to the greatest convenience store of all time that left us hoping for a Family Mart version this December. WeChat ft. Keith Ape points out that where they’re from, “There’s no Skype, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, we use WeChat!” before the group proceed to video call their South Korean 88rising labelmate using the app to score his much-revered guest verse. Post-album release, it was YouTuber turned 88rising artist Joji that the group called on for the chorus of this summer’s mellow Nomadic, while their urgent new tune Flo Rida (to a visual full of bums and fail videos) features husky-voiced Florida rapper Ski Mask The Slump God. Before they head off on the epic sounding 88rising Asia Tour (on which they’ll hit up Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta alongside Rich Chigga and Joji) we dodged The Great Firewall of China to put some Very Important Questions to the Higher Brothers themselves.

Hi brothers! What’s this track with Ski Mask all about then?
It’s about ego.

What’s the best thing about Chengdu?
It’s lit.

Why do you think your hometown has birthed such an exciting hip-hop scene?
Because of the Higher Brothers.

Which fictional crew are you guys most like?
The four main characters from Journey to the West and the Akatsuki group from Naruto.

Nice. What do your parents think of your music?
They don’t get it, but they support us.

How have your lives changed in the past year?
We’re busier, better looking, and make better music.

And how’d you link up with 88rising?
Howie Lee played our song at a party and 88rising heard it. After that, 88rising reached out to us in email.

You’ve said before that Migos are the US Higher Brothers… in what sense?
Because we’re both groups, but more importantly, because we really like Migos.

Which other Chinese rappers should we be listening to?
CDC (Chengdu Rap House).

The Haier Brothers have global adventures. When will you tour the rest of the world?
Should be next year.

How will you know when you have made it?
We don’t know, because we still haven’t made it.

What is your cat's name?
Tom.

Rank your top 3 favourite 7-11 snacks.
White wine > salad > onigiri.