Over the past few years, thanks to a persistent web presence and a determination to take risks, Chinese trap dynamos Higher Brothers have steadily become the most famous hip-hop group in their home country — and one whose name is known far and wide in the West as well. “Rap is becoming more popular in China, because the Internet is making the world closer,” member MaSiWei told Paper in June 2017. “Higher Brothers is representing China and we want to continue putting Asia on the map.”
That same month, a viral video of rappers like Migos, Joey Purp, Denzel Curry, and more watching the group’s “Made in China” music video became an essential part of their story. All of them unsurprisingly dug the song and the four members’ energies. Some even said they’d be open to working together in the future.
Now, less than two years later, Higher Brothers have released their second album, Five Star, and included in its 14 tracks are collaborations with rap heavy hitters like Curry himself, Schoolboy Q, J.I.D., Rich Brian, Soulja Boy, Ski Mask the Slump God, and more. It’s out today (February 22) and features the singles “Open It Up,” “16 Hours,” and the Chinese New Year celebration anthem, “Gong Xi Fa Cai.”
Each track on Five Stars is helmed by a different producer, allowing for all four Higher Brothers — MaSiWei, DZKnow, Psy.P, and Melo — to showcase their flows across a panoply of atmospheres, from airy and breezy “Flexing So Hard” to slick and poppy on “Sunshine” to yearning trap&B on “Need Me Now” to smoldering on the Ski Mask/Curry collab “One Man Punch.”
Though Higher Brothers have been active for years, this new album feels like a proper arrival. “Just a couple of years ago when we were all living in one room together with nothing at all — and not knowing any English,” the group tweeted from the 88rising account right before the album dropped. “We couldn’t have imagined to come this far. This album represents our dreams.”
Stream Higher Brothers’ Five Stars in full below.