"We’re small but extremely efficient and extremely, extremely scrappy.”
88rising’s inaugural group show (and the kick-off to their Asia tour) was scheduled to happen aboard It’s the Ship! The floating festival, which bills itself as the continent’s largest dance party at sea, would, indeed, have been an idyllically turnt backdrop for a first-time hangout. Four days and three nights of warm saline breeze, maritime hijinks and enough alcohol to incapacitate a pod of blue whales sounds like a natural fit for a label whose diverse soundscape can support both the perpetually energized stylings of Chengdu-based rap foursome Higher Brothers and the aqueous, lo-fi electro R&B crooning of Osaka-born New York resident Joji.
Yet as such things often unfold, everything did not go according to plan. At the last minute, Joji was unable to make it.
Attempt number two occurred in Jakarta, the home city of another 88rising signee Rich Brian -- who officially made the change from his initial stage name, Rich Chigga, in the infant days of 2018 -- and this time around, 88’s initial label-wide link-up was a rollicking success. Collectively, the artists headlined the behemoth Ismaya Live-organized Djakarta Warehouse Project, which sees between 70,000 and 80,000 attendees over the course of three days. It was there that members of the 88rising team -- some of whom had seen very little rest -- got to celebrate their hard-won moment of triumph that included stage dives from the Higher Brothers, swooning fans screaming for more of Joji and a massive sing-along to Keith Ape’s “It G Ma."