Evidenced by how few Asian acts have broken into the American mainstream, it’s clearly quite difficult to achieve crossover success in the States. Higher Brothers have defied the odds though, becoming China’s biggest rap group and impressing audiences stateside throughout their journey. Five Stars has been expected for a while and finally, the East Asian quartet have delivered with tons of high-profile features and their original Far East flavor.
Higher Brothers rap in a chaotic mix of Mandarin and English, weaving together Western brand names and pop culture references into their verses before rapidly going back to spitting bars in their native tongue. The first half of Five Stars is a cohesive series of bangers. Album-opener “16 Hours” has the group rapping over a cheerful, momentous beat and highlighting their distinctive personalities. The feel-good momentum carries over to “Open It Up.” Rapping along to Luca’s funky textured beat, Higher Brothers pull off one of the more polished and catchier moments on the project along with “Sunshine” and “Won’t Believe” featuring ScHoolboy Q.
Track 07: Sunshine / 2:26
Track 10: Won’t Believe featuring ScHoolboy Q / 3:35
The album also brings forth an impressive group of guests. “One Punch Man,” featuring Ski Mask the Slump God and Denzel Curry, has every rapper relishing in weirdness. “Won’t Believe,” featuring ScHoolboy Q, and “Do It Like Me,” featuring J.I.D., are also strong efforts that demonstrate the group excelling as collaborators.
Five Stars probably won’t be Higher Brothers’ crossover into the mainstream. But even if the quality occasionally dips, their sophomore album rarely lacks charisma and we’re giving the Chinese rappers a solid four out of Five Stars for this effort.
Five Stars Track List:
1. 16 Hours
2. Open It Up
3. Flexing So Hard
4. One Punch Man (feat. Ski Mask the Slump God & Denzel Curry)
5. Do It Like Me (feat. J.I.D)
6. Top (feat. Soulja Boy)
8. We Talkin Bout
9. Gong Xi Fa Cai
10. Won’t Believe ( feat. ScHoolboy Q )
11. Need Me Now (feat. Guapdad 4000)
13. No More (feat. NIKI)
14. Zombie (feat. Rich Brian)