HipHopDX Asia recently launched “The Regionals,” the first-ever Pan-Asian cypher series that pairs some of the biggest Hip Hop names in each territory with some of the West’s premiere rap producers.
The latest installment in the series rolled out on Friday (September 23), spotlighting four of Taipei’s top talents: NICKTHEREAL, Karencici, Julia Wu and Kumachan. Soundtracking the cypher is none other than Grammy-winning hitmaker Hit-Boy.
Karencici kicks things off with a confident verse showcasing her sultry vocals and elevated taste. “Woke up in Bali, Saint Laurent and Louis / Cashing out the benjis, I know that you don’t got these / Yeah I’m up on my scheme, can’t keep up with my speed / Benz, Maserati, bump it up to my heat,” she raps over Hit-Boy’s lively, speaker-rattling beat.
NICKTHEREAL, who also directed the accompanying music video, picks up the baton and gives the producer some (“Hit-Boy’s on the beat, this track’s on repeat”) while switching his flow throughout his verse.
Julia Wu brings some R&B flavor to the cypher with her airy vocals before fluidly sliding into a duet with Kumachan, who represents his roots by rapping in Mandarin, as well as English.
“Being able to participate in this project is very meaningful to me, and I also enjoy the whole process of working on the lineup and the direction of this collaboration,” NICKTHEREAL tells HipHopDX Asia of the cypher.
“I think it was super fun to have all 4 of us on this song and to have this chance to work with Hit-Boy and HipHopDX Asia,” Wu adds. “I think everyone has their own unique style for each part. Each of us shines through the song sonically, and it was really dope to put everything together.”
Karencici shares: “I was already a big fan of Hit-Boy’s work and I feel honored to be on [his] track. And I hope [that] through ‘The Regionals,’ [we get] to spread our culture and introduce Asian artists to listeners worldwide.”
The Regionals launched earlier in September, with the inaugural cypher bringing together Filipino artists JRLDM, Jon Protégé, Arkho, Mhot and Loonie over a hard-hitting beat from multi-platinum producer !llmind (who has Filipino heritage himself).
“[I’m] absolutely mind-blown and happy at the fact that our people can come together and do something impactful like this,” !llmind told HipHopDX Asia in an interview last month. “There is so much talent back home in the Philippines and it’s stuff like this that can really start creating momentum.”
He added: “I wanted to create a modern-day cypher beat, but not something ‘boom bap’ or what you’ve heard a bunch of times already. I come from the boom bap era, but I wanted to create a vibe that’s relatable to a bigger audience. Something simple but with rhythm. Enough to keep the focus on the rappers because they are going crazy!”
As for Hit-Boy, “The Regionals: Taipei” adds to a busy year for the “N-ggas In Paris” hitmaker. The Inland Empire native has released full-length collaborations with Dreezy (HITGIRL) and Pacman Da Gunman (Bulletproof Soul), while picking up production credits on Beyoncé’s Rennaisance and The Game’s Drillmatic: Heart Vs. Mind, among other prominent albums.
Hit-Boy also partnered with music distributor UnitedMasters in April to launch a beat marketplace called Beat Exchange, which allows up-and-coming producers to monetize their work through beat sales and licensing opportunities.