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Taiwanese hip hop music started in the early 1990s, popularized by the early hip hop trio L.A. Boyz.[1] A distinctive style of rap emerged using Taiwanese Hokkien as opposed to the Mandarin Chinese used in Mandopop, which before democratization the regime actively promote the use of Mandarin and suppressing the use of Taigi.

Cultural context

A mid-70s movement titled the Modern Folksong Movement sought to reclaim hip hop for the Taiwanese people.[contradictory] Artists such as Yang Xian and Li Shuangz inspired a new generation of localization of music which strove to strip away the years of American cultural imperialism, which at the time, the United States was supporting Taiwan as Cold War ally. This movement paved the way for more Taiwan-specific music and allowed for new Taiwanese to take from local traditions and language and create their own national music.[2]

Early years: Harlem Yu

Main article: Harlem Yu

The first Mandarin rap song was performed by singer-songwriter Harlem Yu in Taiwan, who is known for being one of the first artists to experiment with R&B and rap in the Mandopop music industry in the early 1980s, which was parallel to the early New York 1980s rap songs.

1990s: L.A. Boyz

Main article: L.A. Boyz

L.A. Boyz is a Taiwanese pop/rap group composed of two brothers and their cousin. They were raised in Irvine, California, and met at its University High School. They first became involved in music through their interest in hip-hop dance moves learnt from parties around Orange County and Los Angeles, and fashion from Compton and South-Central LA. Their dancing, and entry into various competitions, eventually led them to be scouted by a representative of Pony Canyon, in Taiwan.[3] They released 10 albums, starting from their first, SHIAM! which sold more than 130,000 copies in 1992. Their second album, released the same year, was similarly received. The group was very successful in the 1990s until their break-up. They are credited for starting the trend that would spread into Taiwan and the rest of the Mandarin-speaking world.[citation needed]

2000s to 2010s

In 2001, MC HotDog arrived in the Taiwanese market. He is known for his use of explicit lyrics in his songs. He is known for his two famous hits, "我的生活" (My Life) and "韓流來襲" (The Korean Invasion).

In 2002, Dwagie released Lotus from the Tongue (舌粲蓮花), regarded as the first full rap album in the Chinese-speaking world.[4]

Since then, many Taiwanese rappers have emerged, including Jae Chong, Machi, Leo Wang [zh], (蛋堡) [zh], and Nine One One. Women are a minority in Taiwanese hip-hop. Meredith Schweig wrote in 2010 that "there are no professional female MCs on the island" other than Miss Ko, who was regarded as a "newcomer" at the time.[5]


The moment that the Golden Melody Awards granted an award to both Leo Wang and Soft Lipa announced the official arrival of Taiwanese hip-hop into the mainstream. In addition to being recognized in general pop-music circles, in 2021, MTV received a subsidy from the Ministry of Culture's Film, Television and Pop Music Industry Bureau to produce "The Rappers". The judges were Dwagie, Kumachen, Razor Jiang, and Leo Wang. This show is aiming to broaden the audience for Taiwanese hip-hop, and season 2 is set to premiere in January 2022.[6]

The future of Taiwanese hip-hop appears to be promising, and there are many talented musicians working hard in this industry. However, with the development of the Internet today, topicality and traffic-flows are no less important than whether the content of the work is high-quality, and marketing has become a new concern for rappers.[7]

The Four major Taiwanese rap labels

1. Kung Fu Entertainment.(人人有功練)

Founded by Dwagie in 2003. In the beginning, it was a community of friends gathering to promote hip-hop culture.[8] Its regular members include Dwagie, JY, RPG, BR, Kumachan, and Professor H, all of whom are engaged in music production, performances, teaching, and cultural promotion.

2. KAO!INK.(顏社)

Founded in July 2005, KAO!INK’s Founder Dila Pang, aimed to promote Chinese rap music and create a brand new rap hip-hop music label in Taiwan. KAO!INK has since cultivated many rappers through various means, including Soft Lipa, Gordon, DJ Didilong, Jerry Li, DJ JIN.


Co-founded by 911 and Right Eye in 2015. It has been successful in recruiting artists such as Monkey, 187 INK and others who have worked together in the past, but has also signed up various artists from the new generation of hip-hop groups like: Cocky Boyz, Cautun Boyz and BCW. AINOKO ENTERTAINMENT continues the "Taichung Love" inherited by the predecessor TTM, and also allows the vitality of Taichung hip-hop to continue to spread.[9]

4. True color.(本色音樂)

Established in 2004, It was co-founded by George, and the singer A-Yue. True Color promotes itself as being a champion for Chinese hip-hop pop music. Some of the members which they work for include MC HotDog, and MJ116 (also individually as E.SO, Kenzy, and Muta). In 2015, True color formed a group of its artists together to begin a world tour, and after the world tour, True Color felt that it had contributed to the expansion of the influence of hip-hop within the mainstream music industry of Taiwan.[10]


See also


  1. ^ Dunn, Ashley (5 April 1993). "Rapping to a Bicultural Beat : Dancing Trio From Irvine--the L.A. Boyz--Scores a Hit in Taiwan". The LA Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ Schweig, Meredith (July 2014). "Hoklo Hip-Hop: Resignifying Rap as Local Narrative Tradition in Taiwan". CHINOPERL. 33 (1): 37–59. doi:10.1179/0193777414Z.00000000016. ISSN 0193-7774. S2CID 161957960.
  3. ^ Wester, Michael (1994-06-01). "Trilingual Rappers". Taiwan Review. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). Archived from the original on 2014-03-10. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
  4. ^ Yen, William (28 June 2019). "Taiwanese hip hop star an activist on mic". Central News Agency. Retrieved 29 June 2019. Republished as "FEATURE: Rapper Dwagie explains role of activism in his work". Taipei Times. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  5. ^ Schweig, Meredith (2016). ""Young Soldiers, One Day We Will Change Taiwan": Masculinity Politics in the Taiwan Rap Scene". Ethnomusicology. 60 (3): 385. doi:10.5406/ethnomusicology.60.3.0383. With the exception of one artist—Miss KO, a Taiwanese-American newcomer to the scene—there are no professional female MCs on the island, and only a handful of professional female hip-hop DJs. Note: Although the article was published in 2016, it covers events that took place shortly after the 2010 Taiwanese local elections.
  6. ^ MTV音樂頻道MTV音樂頻道 (2020-07-01). "MTV音樂頻道 | THERAPPERS2". MTV音樂頻道MTV音樂頻道. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  7. ^ "台灣也有嘻哈!從地下到金曲獎,瘦子、頑童 MJ116、蛋堡、 Leo 王、MC HOTDOG...台灣饒舌的起源,全靠網路?". Wazaiii. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  8. ^ Wang, Sihan; 王思涵 (2018). Xi ha nan : Taiwan rao she gu shi = Taiwan hip hop kids. Zhixiang Deng, Guanheng Chen, 鄧志祥, 陳冠亨, Yan she, 顏社. (Chu ban ed.). Taibei Shi. ISBN 978-986-97051-0-3. OCLC 1082881154.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Wang, Sihan; 王思涵 (2018). Xi ha nan : Taiwan rao she gu shi = Taiwan hip hop kids. Zhixiang Deng, Guanheng Chen, 鄧志祥, 陳冠亨, Yan she, 顏社. (Chu ban ed.). Taibei Shi. ISBN 978-986-97051-0-3. OCLC 1082881154.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Wang, Sihan; 王思涵 (2018). Xi ha nan : Taiwan rao she gu shi = Taiwan hip hop kids. Zhixiang Deng, Guanheng Chen, 鄧志祥, 陳冠亨, Yan she, 顏社. (Chu ban ed.). Taibei Shi. ISBN 978-986-97051-0-3. OCLC 1082881154.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)