Taiwanese hip hop

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Taiwanese hip hop music started in the early 1990s, popularized by the early hip hop trio L.A. Boyz.[1] A distinctive style of rap emerged using Taiwanese Hokkien as opposed to the Mandarin Chinese used in Mandopop.

Cultural context[edit]

A mid-70s movement titled the Modern Folksong Movement sought to reclaim hip hop for the Taiwanese people. Artists such as Yang Xian and Li Shuangz inspired a new generation of localization of music which strove to strip away the years of American cultural imperialism. This movement paved the way for more Taiwan-specific music and allowed for new Taiwanese to take from local traditions and language and create their own national music.[2]

Early years: Harlem Yu[edit]

The first Mandarin rap song was performed by singer-songwriter Harlem Yu in Taiwan, who is known for being one of the first artists to experiment with R&B and rap in the Mandopop music industry in the early 1980s, which was parallel to the early New York 1980s rap songs.

1990s: L.A. Boyz[edit]

L.A. Boyz is a Taiwanese pop/rap group composed of two brothers and their cousin. They were raised in Irvine, California, and met at its University High School. They first became involved in music through their interest in hip-hop dance moves learnt from parties around Orange County and Los Angeles, and fashion from Compton and South-Central LA. Their dancing, and entry into various competitions, eventually led them to be scouted by a representative of Pony Canyon, in Taiwan.[3] They released 10 albums, starting from their first, SHIAM! which sold more than 130,000 copies in 1992. Their second album, released the same year, was similarly received. The group was very successful in the 1990s until their break-up. They are credited for starting the trend that would spread into Taiwan and the rest of the Mandarin-speaking world.[citation needed]

2000s to present day[edit]

In 2001, MC HotDog arrived in the Taiwanese market. He is known for his use of explicit lyrics in his songs. He is known for his two famous hits, "我的生活" (My Life) and "韓流來襲" (The Korean Invasion).

In 2002, Dwagie released Lotus from the Tongue (舌粲蓮花), regarded as the first full rap album in the Chinese-speaking world.[4]

Since then, many Taiwanese rappers have emerged, including Jae Chong, Machi, and Nine One One. Women are a minority in Taiwanese hip-hop. Meredith Schweig wrote in 2010 that "there are no professional female MCs on the island" other than Miss Ko, who was regarded as a "newcomer" at the time.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dunn, Ashley (5 April 1993). "Rapping to a Bicultural Beat : Dancing Trio From Irvine--the L.A. Boyz--Scores a Hit in Taiwan". The LA Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ Schweig, Meredith (July 2014). "Hoklo Hip-Hop: Resignifying Rap as Local Narrative Tradition in Taiwan". Chinoperl. 33 (1): 37–59. doi:10.1179/0193777414Z.00000000016. ISSN 0193-7774.
  3. ^ Wester, Michael (1994-06-01). "Trilingual Rappers". Taiwan Review. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). Archived from the original on 2014-03-10. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
  4. ^ Yen, William (28 June 2019). "Taiwanese hip hop star an activist on mic". Central News Agency. Retrieved 29 June 2019. Republished as "FEATURE: Rapper Dwagie explains role of activism in his work". Taipei Times. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  5. ^ Schweig, Meredith (2016). ""Young Soldiers, One Day We Will Change Taiwan": Masculinity Politics in the Taiwan Rap Scene". Ethnomusicology. 60 (3): 385. doi:10.5406/ethnomusicology.60.3.0383. With the exception of one artist—Miss KO, a Taiwanese-American newcomer to the scene—there are no professional female MCs on the island, and only a handful of professional female hip-hop DJs. Note: Although the article was published in 2016, it covers events that took place shortly after the 2010 Taiwanese local elections.