PIVOTAL ASIAN FEMALE ARTISTS
A Discussion and Playlist of Asian Female Artists You Need to Know
by Anh Nguyen
Before I begin my love letter to the Asian female artists who have impacted my life, I want to acknowledge that I love these artists not singularly because they are Asian and female. It would be too simple to categorize them all as one, and unfair to uphold them to the phenomenon that artists of color all too often have to face – the constant marked-ness of their identity, one that won't allow them to just be "artists" but rather "Asian female artists".
However, these are the faces of some of the women I look up to – whether I heard them growing up or simply people I found as I developed my taste in music – and have helped me understand my creative identity, as well as my identity as a Vietnamese woman.
Creativity doesn't (nor should it have to) always stem from identity, but our experiences often shape it. Because of this, I think it is plausible to say that many of these artists' experiences have informed their creative choices.
Yaeji is an artist whose experimental and addictive beats have become my standard of party anthems over the past few years. I admire how she takes pride in her Korean American identity – and it's an added bonus that people around me also seem to agree that her music is special. Many Asian and Asian American creatives nowadays can look at Yaeji and feel connected to how she executes her art: in a very young and fashionable style.
Another artist that will always hold a special place in my heart is Suboi. She was the first Vietnamese female artist to make it big globally. I developed an affinity towards hip-hop and rap from a very young age. I remember seeing videos of Suboi from her early career on YouTube and feeling an immense sense of admiration because I perceived her as a boundary-breaking Vietnamese woman, unlike so many people I was seeing on TV at the time. Even though her style at that time consisted of neon pink tank tops, butterfly backpacks, and baseball caps, I saw her as a role model. As I've developed my taste in music, I've noticed that she has also grown as an artist to be comfortable in her own skin. This is evident in how she is willing to be much more experimental with her music style and creative direction.
As 2021 comes to an end, and you're looking at your Spotify Wrapped wanting to diversify your listening activity or perhaps look for new (and maybe better) artists to listen to, here are some recommendations.
Whether it's a playful DJ with immaculate style like Peggy Gou or a sharp lyricist whose music can serve as activism like Ruby Ibarra – this is a list of a few Asian female artists with unique styles who I love dearly.
The artists on this list range from long standing artists in the industry to up-and-coming stars to look out for. There is an endless world of artists to discover, and hopefully, this is your ticket to many more.
My Song Recommendations:
Raingurl – Yaeji
I Go – Peggy Gou
Like this – Park Hye Jin
Comme Des Garcon – Rina Sawayama
Ngay Lai Ngay - Suboi
Us – Ruby Ibarra, Rocky Rivera
SNOWCONE – REI AMI
Bad Girls – M.I.A.
Baby Blues – AUDREY NUNA
Temple – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
She Plays Bass – beabadoobee
Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast
Pillars – My Anh
Temptation – Raveena
See You Again – Leah Dou