“On the internet, there is no real underground anymore,” writes graphic novelist and author Warren Ellis. Music today doesn’t rely on charts to remain relevant; some songs that have never experienced radio play have millions of plays on Spotify or YouTube. The internet has created an equalizing space for any artist to put their song out there, and hopefully make their mark in the world.
Conversely, people can get easily overwhelmed with all these music releases, which is why there are still channels people follow for new releases, little pockets of music people can live in. But today the question you should ask isn’t which music is the “best,” but rather which music you can relate to this very moment.
We take a look at local musical collectives that, one way or another, formed their own pillars in the music scene. There are artists that continually push sonic boundaries and there are artists that drive towards building a familiar brand. These are all voices worthy of being heard.
The Asian wave of trap music—made popular by Keith Ape’s It G Ma” and kept afloat by the likes of media outfit 88rising—finds its parallels in this record label founded by Blvck Lauren last year. The hallmarks are there: streetwear pieces meet rattling hi-hats and catchy hooks to show off the perennial hip-hop flex. Look around you. This is where pop culture has arrived, with hip-hop permeating all ends of our every day. It was only a matter of time before we had our own local representation, people we can refer to when we say “local trap music.”
That doesn’t mean to say PUSHTRAK is just a dig at what’s popular today. “If you look around we have heavy trap, we have vibes, but we’re also going to lo-fi pop, and disco,” says creative director 35VSNRY. The influences of Kanye West and Pharrell (Blvck Lauren’s idols) are there of course, but PUSHTRAK’s appeal is its impressive and diverse roster of members: music producers, rappers, graphic designers, and fashion designers form this tight-knit family. “Music is our forefront but it’s also about culture and the lifestyle,” Blvck Lauren says.
At its core, PUSHTRAK represents a new wave of creatives chasing success without compromising their vision. They know what they’re good at and they make the most out of it. In short, they hustle.
Video by Ivan Cocjin