Feel the Frenetic Fun and Passion of Pan-Asian Hip-Hop

WeTransfer profiles 88rising collective in ‘Work in Progress’

The dizzying cool of Pan-Asian Hip-Hop YouTube: WeTransfer

File-sharing service WeTransfer explores pan-Asian hip-hop in the second episode of its “Work in Progress” video series that celebrates creative collaboration.

The seven-minute clip, produced with Pi Studios, dropped yesterday and provides a fast-paced, fun and frequently profane overview of innovative music and media platform 88rising.

Many of the label’s artist’s appear in the video, but company founder Sean Miyashiro (aka Sean 88) is the real star of the show. His enthusiasm and passion shine through as he discusses how 88rising serves as “a gateway that spotlights Asian youth culture.” Interviews and music-video snippets of his artists help bring the energetic oeuvre into sharp focus.

“88rising is such a compelling team to highlight because they can’t be easily contained to one genre, category, or even continent,” Jamal Dauda, global head of Music at WeTransfer, tells Adweek.

“Their seemingly disparate, yet totally cohesive partnership feels emblematic of how technology, innovation, and passion have unified us all in the global musical landscape of 2018,” he says. “It’s the type of connectivity and transfer of ideas we’re fortunate to celebrate at WeTransfer. They are widely regarded as the preeminent hip-hop representatives in Asian youth culture and possibly the first to successfully bridge the gap to the Western world.”

The film doesn’t delve too deeply into the mechanics of the label’s various collaborations, nor does it explain how the artists use WeTransfer products and services as they work together.

But that’s cool. The lack of overt branding makes the story — driven by a frenetic mashup of bold beats and dazzling images — that much more compelling.

“It would be excruciating if halfway through the film, (88 rising artist) Keith Ape stopped to send a big file,” says WeTransfer vice president of content Rob Alderson. “We’re confident enough to tell stories that reflect what the brand is about, rather than what the company does in a very literal way.”

It’s an approach that works exceptionally well here, just as it did in the first “Work in Progress” episode, which debuted in March. (That clip, spotlighting singer Bjork and filmmaker/artist Jesse Kanda. generated 600,000 YouTube plays.)

The second episode marked “the first time that the whole of 88rising had been in the same place IRL,” says Pi Studios chief Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock. “It was kinda cool documenting the first physical meeting of artists who had been long-term collaborators virtually.”

Predictably, things got rowdy at times.

“It was the Higher Brothers’ first time in America, and filming them in LA was nuts,” says Hitchcock. “They had a pimp Airbnb. They made such a racket that the neighbors called the cops and we had to stop filming. That didn’t make the cut, sadly.”

Ultimately, the 88rising crew’s intense cultural pride and dedication to creating chill content lends the production considerable depth, positioning WeTransfer as a collaborator that helps turn dreams and visions into reality.

“It’s just such a precious thing,” Miyashiro says of the collective’s efforts near the end of the new installment, “and I feel like I would die for this.”

Tracks in the episode:
“Wudidong” – Higher Brothers
“Occupied” – Rich Brian
“It G Ma” – Keith Ape
“Ding Mogu” – Higher Brothers
“Bitter Fuck” – Joji
“Aston Martin” – Higher Brothers
“Dat Stick” – Rich Brian
“Watch Out!” – Rich Brian
“Chaos” – Rich Chigga
“See U Never” – Niki
“Young Master” – Higher Brothers

Series Creator: Lukas Nieuwenhuijsen
Executive Producer: Jamal Dauda

Pi Studios
Executive Producer: Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock
Producer: Alice Lewis
Production Manager: Kim Buttery

Bullion Productions
Director: João Retorta
Director of Photography: Trevor Wineman
Producer: Jon Mealing
1st AC: Erick Aguilar
2nd AC: Brian Austin
Production Assistant: Eve Burton
Executive Producer: Flo Clive / Hannah Gracie

Executive Producer: Matthew Green
Line Producer: Josiah Bultema
Production Assistant: Julian Matulich
Intern: Christina Mac Eachin
Editor: Charlie Reddie at Homespun
Edit Assistant: Finn White-Thompson

Audio Mixer: David Ross
Soundmix: Gus Collins at House of Noise

Colorist: Tim Smith at Electric Theatre
Visual Identity & Title Design: WeTransfer Studio


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Michael Marshall

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.