Asian-American Pacific Islander artists have been at the forefront of combating prejudice and racism particularly in this country, and with the rise in racially-motivated attacks against AAPI, it is more important now than ever to amplify their voices. Though the fight isn’t over yet, AAPI artists are beginning to break through barriers into a new spot in western media. To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, here is a list of eight promising AAPI music artists bound to top the charts.
Born as Casey Luong to Vietnamese parents, keshi is known for his soft mix of R&B, hip hop and lo-fi beats. He learned how to play the guitar at 13-years-old and began writing music shortly after. While working towards a nursing degree in college, keshi posted his self-written and self-produced music on SoundCloud. His songs, including this one in his signature lo-fi hip hop style titled, “if you’re not the one for me who is,” garnered traction, fueling his decision to quit his job as an oncology nurse and pursue a full-time music career. Since then, keshi has released four EPs and racks up 4.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, a strong start to his multifaceted career.
From “drivers license” and “deja vu” to the recently-released “good 4 u,” Olivia Rodrigo never misses. The Filipina American singer-songwriter and actress has taken the world by storm in the past year, and if you haven’t been screaming your lungs out to her bops, where have you been? Each single so far has taken a new direction in genre and style as Rodrigo explores the versatility and extent of her talents. Having recently performed at The BRIT Awards and Saturday Night Live, Rodrigo is growing bigger and better every day. Anticipation is at an all-time high for Rodrigo’s debut album, “Sour,” coming May 21.
Raveena stepped into the spotlight in 2017 after releasing her debut EP, “Shanti.” Growing up in an Indian immigrant household in America, Raveena and her dreamy vocals blend R&B and soul with a hint of Bollywood. The singer-songwriter’s debut album, “Lucid,” follows the lucid trajectory of dwelling on, then letting go, her past trauma and pain. In her songs “Stronger” and “Salt Water,” Raveena opens up about her experience as a sexual abuse survivor, and “Mama” tributes her mother and grandmother’s journeys of escaping genocide in India. Raveena also sings about coming to terms with being bisexual and South Asian, two identities that she often felt clashed.
Born to a father of Samoan and Māori descent and a white mother, Alex Aiono released his debut single and EP in 2013. He gained more attention in 2016 for posting covers and self-produced mash-ups of popular songs on YouTube. By 2019, he signed to his second record label and released his genre-bending debut album, “The Gospel at 23,” the following year. Now, Aiono is working to expand his career while continuing to showcase his stripped-down R&B style and smooth riffs on YouTube, where he is nearing six million subscribers and a billion total views.
Born in Indonesia in 2000, Stephanie Poetri began her career in 2015. Her breakthrough came in 2019 with her single, “I Love You 3000,” released with her current record label, 88rising. The song gained worldwide attention with over 425 million streams online. Poetri won “Best New Asian Artist – Indonesia” at the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Award and later collaborated with GOT7 member Jackson Wang for the hit song’s remix, titled “I Love You 3000 II.” Following her success, Poetri released three more singles and her debut EP, “AM:PM,” blessing listeners with more of her fresh, sweet melodies marked by a warm acoustic tinge.
The oldest daughter of Oscar-nominated filmmaker and actor M. Night Shyamalan, Saleka grew up surrounded by art. Starting off playing classical piano, the Indian American musician expanded to singing and songwriting while studying at Brown University. In 2020, Saleka released singles “Clarity” and “Mr. Incredible,” proving herself as a rising R&B artist with her soft but powerful vocals and truthful lyrics. This year she released two more singles, “Graffiti” and “The Sky Cries,” along with a complementary music video directed by her sister and her father, respectively. With a strong start to her career, Saleka is set to release her debut album later this year.
Having attended a performing arts school, Aolani started out performing Hawaiian music with her ukulele at the age of 12, but has branched out to creating R&B music. The Hawaiian singer-songwriter released her self-titled debut album, the product of two years of work, in 2018. The album consists of eight songs full of intimate revelations based on her personal experiences in romantic relationships and love. Influenced by R&B music from the 90s and early 2000s, Aolani’s songs blanket listeners with a feeling of nostalgia and highlight her healing and soothing vocals.
A Black singer and rapper of Filipino descent, Dominic Fike first grabbed the public’s attention with his SoundCloud demos. He rose to fame in 2018 with his debut single “3 Nights” from his EP, “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos,” which he recorded on house arrest and released in jail. During his time in jail, Fike discovered a unique approach to writing music, experimenting with different sounds by banging on the sink. He signed with Columbia Records upon his release due to the EP’s success and released his first and top-charting album, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” in 2020.