Looking for lyrically driven non-english rap that will melt my face off
September 1, 2019 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Preference given to Spanish (non-reggaeton? unless it's really damn good), Mandarin (other Sinitic languages welcome though), Japanese, but I'm down for anything

Obviously melting faces is very subjective, but I want to lean into that. If you have a non-english rap act that you think fits the bill, I want to hear it.

That said, I think my interests are a bit broader than that :) I like aggressive stuff, but I also like melodic stuff that might not necessarily be face melting. I like funny stuff, laid back stuff. The key for me is just that it's organized around the vocals, and it's not super repetitive. Basically, I don't want the pop-rap that is organized more like a pop song...nothing wrong with that! Just not what I'm looking for right now :) (this is also why reggaeton really depends on the artist...I have enjoyed a lot of older Calle 13, for example...I have no idea what his current stuff soudns like) I'm interested more in the hip hop style of stuff where the song has a whole progression etc.

Keeping this somewhat broad because I want broad recs!
posted by wooh to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Suprême NTM maybe?
posted by juv3nal at 12:47 AM on September 1, 2019

The GTA: Vladivostok soundtrack had some Russian pieces. (SLSpotify)
posted by Mogur at 1:13 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Baker boy is great and raps in Yolnu Matha (and English), an Aboriginal language from Northern Australia
posted by hotcoroner at 2:34 AM on September 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Could I interest you in some Francophone stuff?

SiannAllemagne (several more of her 'Tour du Monde en Freestyle' tracks are on YouTube)
Go Fast

Keny Arkana [she's Argentine-French so you'll hear Spanish sometimes]:
Capitale de la Rupture
J'ai Osé
On s'met bien (with Queen K-lifa and Outlaw)



A kele n'ta
Afro Trap Part.7 (La Puissance) [the rest of his 'Afro Trap' series is also on YouTube]
posted by theory at 3:03 AM on September 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Amsterdam Klezmer Band performs their Klezmer rap song 'Chassid in Amsterdam'. Lyrics (in Dutch/Jiddish) in the description.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:57 AM on September 1, 2019

As seen in Breaking Bad, 1977 by Ana Tijoux
posted by mmoncur at 4:30 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not 100% sure it'll meet your requirements structure wise but I really enjoyed Mejor que el silencio by Nach. Look up Hambre de Victoria for a representative cut, just to see if it floats your boat.
posted by doctorpiorno at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2019

A small sampling of Korean artists

Giant Pink:
Mirror Mirror
Bub *

BTS: Mic Drop*

Jeon Soyeon: Scary*

I think only the BTS has English captions, but you can search youtube for any of the others for english translations.

*somewhat pop song structured, but still might be worth checking out.
posted by forforf at 6:22 AM on September 1, 2019

Sang Fezi by Wyclef Jean is in Haitian Creole
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:41 AM on September 1, 2019

This might be a stretch, but -

The cover/rewrite of Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" done by the Irish-language immersion summer camp TD Lurgan. The backstory: there are a number of Irish-language immersion schools and summer camps throughout Ireland, started in an effort to support education of the Irish Gaelic language. The camps have a varying level of strictness in their adherance to an Irish-only policy, and have Irish-language classes in addition to the usual camp activities.

This camp started doing Youtube videos where they do Irish-language covers and adaptations of various pop songs, and they've become huge viral-video hits. Sometimes the translations are pretty faithful, and sometimes they're rewrites. This particular song is one of the rewrites - they totally chucked all the English lyrics and Macklemore's original rap and came up with their own thing. My Irish friend says that the Irish lyrics are a rallying cry to Irish teenagers to take ownership of learning Irish themselves instead of relying on the boring-as-hell school language classes to do all the legwork.

(That main link is a lyrics-only video; if you want to see the original viral video that's here, and has a surprise cameo from Macklemore himself.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on September 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Russian - Basta
posted by pyro979 at 7:00 AM on September 1, 2019

La Excepción sing in caló-inflected Spanish (but Spanish really, with some caló words thrown in here and there):

- Jambo Loco
- Oye Compay
- Besolla F.S.
- Chula (with singer Poochyeeh)

Pan Bendito represent!

The last song is more of a pop crossover, but I hope that you can still enjoy their flow.
posted by kandinski at 7:14 AM on September 1, 2019

Candle Chant - DJ Krush (Japanese)
posted by umber vowel at 7:22 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Check out Argentina's Wos and Venezuela's Canserbero.
posted by dr. boludo at 7:22 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Brazil's Criolo is great.

Duas de cinco + Cóccix-ência (two songs strung together with a short film that is basically a futurist City of God taking place in 2050)
posted by umbú at 7:30 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The cool(/white as in not Bushido etc) kids of German Rap:
My son lately was grooving on this: Käpn Peng & die Tentakel von Delphi
Very cool lyrics.

I always really like
posted by From Bklyn at 7:54 AM on September 1, 2019

Can't believe nobody has mentioned Aristophanes! Her guest verses on Grimes' last album completely stole the show as far as I was concerned - I literally turned off the album after that and went to listen to Aristophanes instead.
posted by potrzebie at 8:13 AM on September 1, 2019

Säye Skye raps in Farsi, often about LGBTQ+ rights- here’s a song called TNE
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:25 AM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

There is some great new Israeli hip-hop, if Hebrew rap interests you.

- Nechi Nech
- HaDag Nahash
- Peled (probably the most face-melting of the group)
- Quarter to Africa, and
- Cafe Shahor Hazak ("Strong Black Coffee") - both of these groups are guys who emigrated to Israel from east Africa, so there are some great African influences in both of them.
posted by AngerBoy at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2019

Casey - Libérez la bête is an oldie (2010) but goodie.

Orties - Plus putes que toutes les putes french horrorcore as heard in the film Raw.

Sefyu - Interpelation

Sefyu - Seumi One of the smartest french MC around.
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:53 AM on September 1, 2019

MC Solaar might fit the bill, French hip hop with a great groove
posted by supermedusa at 10:13 AM on September 1, 2019

Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo is great and also has a recorder line that makes my 8-year-old asshole heart rejoice. (Also thank you for asking, because I hadn't seen the video and that is delightful.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:29 AM on September 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Jay Chou (when he's not doing ballads):
Chinese Herbal Manual
Huo Yuanjia/ Fearless (from the movie OST)

The J-rap song I absolutely adore:
Nujabes - Battlecry (aka the Samurai Champloo OP)

Die Fantastischen Vier are veteran German rappers:
Einfach Sein
Ernten was wir säen
posted by sukeban at 11:02 AM on September 1, 2019

(Nujabes was awesome but not what you were looking for so... disregard that line, please)
posted by sukeban at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2019

Suboi is a Vietnamese rap artist, who does incredible lyrical work.
posted by alathia at 12:48 PM on September 1, 2019

Keeping this somewhat broad because I want broad recs!
Ojos de Brujo are better known as a nuevo flamenco collective but maybe this would be an outlier?

El Comfort no Reconforta
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:53 PM on September 1, 2019

Their vocals may or may not fit your definition of rap, but I'd say Negu Gorriak.
posted by farlukar at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2019

Art Melody is a rapper from Burkina Faso (Ouagadougou, to be exact) who raps in Mooré and sometimes in Jula. His sound is generally heavy and not at all pop-rap, but individual tracks vary a lot.

Tok toko
Yamb Sabaab

One of his albums can be previewed/bought on Bandcamp.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:34 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Aristophanes might be worth checking out. She raps in Mandarin!
posted by dbx at 3:21 PM on September 1, 2019

"Cwcwll" gan Beganifs. Un o'r caneuon gorau yn yr iaith Gymraeg (yn 'y marn i)!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:42 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the realm of francophone hip-hop that takes a lot from Wu-Tang, there is IAM. Here is one of their more typical tracks, and a catchy one that was a big party hit.
posted by witchen at 9:42 PM on September 1, 2019

Swadesi are an Indian collective who rap in both Marathi and Hindi, and this track is unquestionably the song of the year.

Anything from Azadi Records is worth a listen - covers a lot of Indian languages, from Tamil to Punjabi.
posted by beijingbrown at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your one-stop-shop for shockingly great Dutch rap is the 2015 New Wave compilation.
posted by nerdfish at 4:38 AM on September 2, 2019

Give La Cátedra by Residente a try.
posted by komara at 7:21 AM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tha Blue Herb. Amazing group from Hokkaido. Definitely fulfills the face-melting requirement.
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 8:05 PM on September 2, 2019

Rubberbandits traditionally rap in English, but they do some tracks as Gaeilge, like the great version of 'I Wanna Fight Your Father'

Bougaloo work some excellent lo-fi chillhop in German.

Opgezwolle rolls dark and heavy in Dutch - see 'Hoedenplank'
posted by FatherDagon at 9:24 AM on September 3, 2019

One of my favorite cooking YouTubers got his start by making rap videos in Mandarin. Though it might be more melodic than you're looking for.
posted by serathen at 7:23 AM on October 2, 2019

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