In an effort to bring you more joy, we wanted to share a few of our favorite music videos—both the coolest new releases and older clips from AAPI artists we think just don’t get enough mainstream play. This week’s theme: Kickin’ it old school. Have a video you think we should know about? Hit us up at email@example.com.
‘Comic Sans’ by Audrey Nuna featuring Jack Harlow (2019): Crazy flow with a 90s vibes
As a kid, Audrey Nuna always used to make up songs. Initially bound for New York University, the New Jersey native put her college education on hold to pursue music. With her ability to sing and spit rhymes—seamlessly flowing from one to the other—the Korean American has even caught the attention of BLACKPINK’s Rosé. In an interview for Vogue Korea, the K-pop star named Nuna as an artist she likes to listen to—specifically pointing out her rapping abilities. And if singing and rapping weren’t enough, you can add making videos to Nuna’s resume. Since she discovered iMovie in fifth grade, she’s gone on to co-direct two of her own music videos before the age of 21.
In “Comic Sans,” off of her 2021 debut album a liquid breakfast, Nuna showcases her mad rapping skills, with a fast flow and a deadpan delivery. Her baggy clothes and the fisheye lens gives me 1990s hip-hop vibes (Missy Elliott, specifically).
‘Slide’ by H.E.R. ft. YG (2019): Top down, moving to the beat
It took some time for H.E.R. (born Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson), the daughter of a Filipina mother and Black father, to figure out her identity and where she fits in the music industry. She has since found her voice—a blend of her two heritages—and points to her father’s side gig as a musician and her Filipino family’s love for karaoke (sometimes the stereotypes are true) for getting her into music. She adopted the moniker H.E.R. (Having Everything Revealed) because she wanted her music to speak for itself. And with multiple Grammy nominations and wins, a Super Bowl performance and an Oscar win, I’d say it does.
“Slide,” the lead single off of H.E.R.’s debut studio album Back of My Mind (2021), is a car song—not only because she’s dancing in the passenger seat of a candy-painted convertible. There’s just something about the song that makes you want to crank it up, roll down your convertible top (or just the windows) and just cruise around town. The lyrics also include nods to a few hip-hop classics including fellow Bay Area artists Luniz’s “I Got Five on It” and E-40’s “Tell Me When to Go.”
‘Echo’ by KATIE (2020): A new voice with old school vibes
The Los Angeles-based singer Katie Kim — also known as KATIE — was born in South Korea and raised in New Jersey. She realized she wanted to be a singer when she was in high school, and applied for the South Korean reality competition show K-pop Star. She won and signed with industry juggernaut YG Entertainment, but Kim isn’t really a K-pop artist. Stepping away from K-pop gave her more creative freedom and it shows — her sounds pull from her influences in jazz and old-school R&B, as well as new school R&B artists like H.E.R. and Frank Ocean.
“Echo,” released as a single, showcases all of this as KATIE croons about falling for someone new and wondering if they’re feeling the same (we’ve all been there). The song is paired with a music video of pretty people dancing in the desert. You’ll be playing this video on repeat, like me.
‘Callin’ Out’ by Lyrics Born (2018): You wish you were this cool
The first time Lyrics Born (Tsutomu "Tom" Shimura) heard “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang, he knew hip-hop was for him. The Bay Area rapper, who was born in Tokyo, has been releasing music since his first single “Send Them” in 1993. He has come out with more than a dozen albums and EPs and was even in the rom-com Always Be My Maybe (backing up Randall Park in their fictional band, Hello Peril). Lyrics Born’s influences include James Brown, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins and you can definitely tell: his sound is the funkiest hip-hop I’ve heard in a long time and I’m annoyed I’ve only just discovered him.
As Lyrics Born sings in the chorus, “Callin’ Out,” which is off his 2003 album Later That Day, is about making shit happen, right here, right now. But he also speaks to what it took to get to where he is now as he calls out (see what I did there?) the “pain and all the mistreatments” and the “little box they try to wiggle me in.” The song is a jam you can’t help but dance to. Then there’s Lyrics Born’s threads. From the fur-trimmed and leather-fringed jackets, to a royal blue kimono and sunglasses, it’s nothing short of swag. And when you pair all that with the song’s funky sounds and the sepia-tinged look, it’s like something right out of the 1970s.
Published on November 14, 2022
Words by Samantha Pak
Samantha Pak (she/her) is an award-winning Cambodian American journalist from the Seattle area and assistant editor for JoySauce. She spends more time than she’ll admit shopping for books than actually reading them, and has made it her mission to show others how amazing Southeast Asian people are. Follow her on Twitter at @iam_sammi and on Instagram at @sammi.pak.