There is nothing else out there quite like 88rising. More than just a hybrid management, record label, video production, and marketing company, the collective of artists and creatives is nothing short of revolutionary. 88rising is catapulting Asian culture into new dimensions and mainstream culture, and their latest crew album is a brilliant showing of what they have to offer the world of music at large.
Head In The Clouds II follows 88rising's debut crew album, Head In The Clouds, and in similar fashion, features both international stars and some of the collective's biggest heavyweights. From Chinese superstar Jackson Wang to viral Thai artist Phum Viphurit, the list of featured artists reads like a who's who in the world of Asian music, but Head in The Clouds II also finds unexcepted yet welcomed collaborators in the likes of Major Lazer and Rae Sremmurd's Swae Lee.
Impressive tracklisting aside, the collaborative album itself is a sweeping range of sonics, moods, and themes that never suffers for a lack of outward cohesion. Rather, Head In The Clouds II plays out like an evolving picture of a carefree, idyllic summer night. Rich Brian and Chung Ha set the tone in the album's opening track "These Nights," a retro-tinted joyride whose combination of trap drums and '80s sounds gives the entire affair a sense of out-of-place timelessness. And while the sun begins to set in the somber "Strange Land," which features NIKI, Phum Viphurit, and breathtaking production that could moonlight as a Jamie xx affair, the real change-up arrives in "Shouldn't Couldn't Wouldn't."
The NIKI and Rich Brian collaborative track signals a noted thematic shift in Head In The Clouds II, as NIKI takes her claim as 88rising's queen to heart amongst a moment of stripped-back pop-meets-soul for the ages. More than anything, "Shouldn't Couldn't Wouldn't" is the first apparent moment where the monumental range of the collective's depth is fully on display - a notion Head In The Clouds II almost seems to revel in as it jumps straight into the house track "Just Used Music Again."
The remainder of 88rising's crew album plays out in similar unpredictable fashion, launching between larger-than-life melodic hip-hop, moments of outright acoustic intimacy, and everywhere in between. Yet, no matter what creative inclination or direction 88rising's Head In The Clouds II may follow throughout its expansive 16-track run, it never feels like a misguided venture. The end result is a crew album that is as diverse as its collaborators.
Listen to Head In The Clouds II below:
For more on 88rising, revisit the time we headed to the collective's annual music festival to ask festivalgoers 88 things they love about the revolutionary collective.