10 Asian and AAPI Artists to Listen to Now

It takes a lot to break into the music industry. This statement is even truer for international acts seeking to acquire mainstream success, and for Asian and AAPI artists—an inclusive term referring to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders—breaking the barrier has taken hard work and dedication.

Nonetheless, the invisible brick wall separating Asian entertainers from music fans worldwide has been crumbling year over year, sprouting from seeds planted decades ago by acts such as the pioneering Kim Sisters of the 1950s.

Now, as cultural representation in music continues to prove itself integral to listeners, and with access to a wider range of songs, thanks to digital streaming platforms and social media, Asian and AAPI artists have begun to dominate the music scene, presenting, gaining nominations and winning awards at global events, as well as, collaborating with some top names in the industry.

In recent years, a mega shift has taken place. After all, the South Korean group, BTS is currently hailed as the biggest boy band in the world and has been compared to the best-selling music act of all time, The Beatles, on multiple occasions.

Consequently, although once heavily marginalized, Asian acts are now repeatedly landing spots on the Billboard Hot 100 and performing sold-out shows at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, using social media to their advantage to connect with fans globally.

And so, as the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic subsided, album launches, music festivals, world tours, and concerts re-emerged in full swing, presenting the perfect opportunity to get familiar with even more talented Asian artists.

For music lovers, your playlist can truly never have enough good music and that’s exactly what these acts produce. Here are 10 Asian and AAPI artists you need to start listening to now

1. Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast first started releasing music in 2013, using the blogging site, Tumblr to gain recognition. Now, a Grammy-nominated quartet formed by Korean-American Michelle Zauner, Peter Bradley, Craig Hendrix, and Deven Craige, the group, known for its fresh sound and sweet vocals, has released three studio albums, their latest being Jubilee—noted by Rolling Stone among the 50 best-selling albums of 2021.

2. Raveena Aurora

Born in Massachusetts, USA, Raveena Aurora uses her love for music to blend the Western influence on her life with her Indian heritage. A Warner Records signee, the 70’s and 90’s era-inspired entertainer fuses R&B with soul and pop, which has led to her highly acclaimed sophomore album, Asha’s Awakening, released in February 2022. A noteworthy mention, she is also the first Indian woman to perform at music and arts festival Coachella.

3. AleXa

Alexandra Christine Schneiderman, known as AleXa, is an American singer based in South Korea. Making her debut in 2019, the K-Pop sensation has released three albums and is the first winner of the United States’ version of Eurovision, American Song Contest, thanks to her EDM track, Wonderland, which went viral on TikTok, skyrocketing AleXa to her crowning moment.

4. Anderson .Paak

CAPTION: “Anderson .Paak – Øyafestivalen 2016” by NRK P3 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Anderson .Paak, rose to the heights of his career after forming the band, Silk Sonic along with Uptown Funk singer, Bruno Mars in 2021, spawning the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single Leave the Door Open. Born of South Korean descent, he is an eight-time Grammy award winner, praised for his super-charged R&B and soft soul musical flavor.

5. Joji

Japanese singer, Joji, gained popularity from his online comedic skits, using the alias “FIlthy Frank” on his YouTube channel, DizastaMusic, which now has over 1 million subscribers. Following his success as an internet personality, he adapted the stage name Joji, releasing his first commercial project, an EP titled In Tongues, which peaked at number 58 on the Billboard 200. In 2018, he became the first Asian-born artist to claim the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart with his debut studio album Ballads 1.

6. Mitski

Dubbed the “best young songwriter” in the United States by The Guardian, Mitski is a Japanese-American indie-rock sensation. She has released six albums in her 10-year career, earning a Grammy nomination in 2019 for her pop-punk-inspired project Be the Cowboy.


Thai rapper and singer, MILLI, earned success early on in her career. After showcasing her talent on the Thai television show, The Rapper 2, she went on to release her hit debut single, Phak Kon, in 2020, followed by the Hip-Hop rap single Sud Pang. An Mnet Asian Music award winner for Best New Asian Artist, MILLI also graced the Coachella festival in 2022, becoming the second Thai artist to do so.

8. Rich Brian

Rich Brian is an Indonesian rapper, singer and record producer who rose to stardom following his breakthrough single Dat $tick. Released in 2016, the Hip-hop trap record was later certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America—adding to the young Asian star’s many accolades, as two years later his debut studio album, Amen, would land him the No. 18 spot on the Billboard 200. Rich Brian’s latest project is his four-track EP, Brightside, released in January of 2022.

9. Rina Sawayama

Named one of Vogue Japan’s women of the year in 2019, Rina Sawayama continues to make waves as a model, as well as, a musical artist. The Japanese star who released her first album in 2020 titled Sawayama, launched her solo career in 2013. Now a BRIT Awards nominee, Rina is expected to release her second studio album Hold the Girl, in September 2022, with excitement also surrounding her film debut—Rina is slated to appear as Akira in the upcoming John Wick 4 alongside Keanu Reeves.

10. mxmtoon

Born in Oakland, California, vocalist, musician, and YouTuber, mxmtoon, received her Asian roots from her mother who is Chinese-American. Acclaimed for her prowess as a singer and ukulele player, mxmtoon’s first EP, Plum Blossom has acquired over 100 million streams to date, and is a noteworthy precursor to her 2019 debut album, The Masquerade, and her most recent studio album, Rising, released in May 2022.