Header image courtesy of Matt Force (via Facebook)
While we generally think of Cantopop or indie rock and shoegaze bands
when considering the local music scene, Cantonese hip-hop (a.k.a. Cantohop) is
a thriving genre in its own right. Born in the early 1990s, Cantohop grew in
popularity with the rise of groups like LMF later in the decade. Today, many local acts—both
signed and independent—continue to contribute to Hong Kong’s diverse hip-hop scene. From jazz-inspired artists to bilingual talents with a flair for trap beats, here are some of our favourite Hong Kong hip-hop and R&B artists today.
Matt Force is a born-and-bred Hongkonger whose sound is inspired by jazz hip-hop acts like Nujabes and Shing02, as well as the 1990s style of Nas and Mobb Deep. Force was inspired to learn music production in 2016 after a jam session with his friend and fellow producer GrymeMan, and made a point from then on to only rap over his own tracks.
In 2019, he released his self-produced debut album on Wildstyle Records, featuring rising artists like N.O.L.Y., YoungQueenz, and more. Despite the restrictions on live performances during the pandemic, Force continued to go from strength to strength, debuting the single “Hostile Planet” on a live-streamed episode of Clockenflap Sessions.
Up-and-coming Hong Kong-based rapper Mildsauce plays around with industrialised drum sounds in his catchy track ”Boomtrap.” Through the use of snares, floor toms, and hit-hats, you can practically hear the sonic atmosphere of the city’s industrial neighbourhoods like Kwai Chung and Kwun Tong. If you listen closely, you may be able to distinguish the source of this sound as the fusion of electronic drum pads and a live kit. As part of Hong Kong-based hip-hop collective 7on7, Mildsauce has also collaborated with other local artists like Donutcorp, Txmiyama, and more.
Growing up in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Haysen Cheng had a music-filled childhood. After stints in the school choir and orchestra, Cheng took a break from his musical career to train for college-level basketball. His experience training with athletes from all over the world influenced him to change directions and embrace hip-hop and music production instead. Despite having only started his music career in 2018, Cheng picked up a co-sign from rapper Trouble—a collaborator of Drake and The Weeknd—and collaborated with other local artists, making him an act to watch. Check out his latest track, “Restart,” where he seamlessly switches from Mandarin to English rap without breaking a sweat.
Looking for the perfect summer music? Hong Kong artist Derek Chan has got you covered. His effortless, melodic vocals and charged beats give his music a breezy, easy-going feel. Chan and frequent collaborator Haysen Cheng have helped accelerate each other’s music careers, gaining listeners who are new to Hong Kong’s surprisingly vast music scene. While the music video for his hit track “Fine Wine” came out in December, its summery visuals and dreamy sound make us long for junk trips and days spent splashing around in rock pools.
Raised in the northern suburbs of Paris by his mother, a professional singer, music was an integral part of Wesley Jamison’s upbringing. When he first moved to Hong Kong, he had no intention of becoming a musician—but the musical bug bit after a friend from local hip-hop collective Xabitat asked him to guest on a track, and he hasn’t looked back since. When he writes music, Jamison’s lyrics flow like rap, but have a melodic lilt thanks to his R&B-influenced vocals. Working both as a part of Xabitat and as a solo artist allows Jamison to give each style its respective space to develop. Listen to Jamison’s soulful voice in his newest release, “Evening Glow,” in the music video above.
Rapper, personal trainer, founder of workout community Sunday Shred HK—Jason Richard wears many hats. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Jason Richard lives, breathes, adapts to the city’s grind culture. When he’s not in the gym holding classes or training, you can find him in the studio cooking up something good, snippets of which he often shares with his Instagram followers. You can hear his lyrical finesse in his latest full-length studio album, “Loose Leaf.”