Those who openly scoff at the idea of Asian (let alone Singaporean) hip hop music will get a quick rejoinder, complete with groundbreaking beat-boxing and witty raps, by the army of zealots from 1or8 Faction who swear by the US-originated musical art form.

The leader of the pack, Japanese rapper Taisuke Yamamoto, for one, would riposte, “Listen to our sh*t, because it’s dope!”

Founded by the otherwise affectionately known Monkey King, 1or8 Faction is a Singapore-based independent record label with a mix bag of 6 international artistes from Singapore, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka and East Africa.

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From left: Zushan, Dawn Jay, Kwizyne, C-Nil, The Monkey King

According to him, the label is in the midst of formulating an “epic” hip-hop festival here, in collaboration with international artistes and labels by year-end.

“We plan to bring in acts from the US, UK, Thailand, Japan, Korea, China, everywhere literally. I’d like to collaborate with T.I., I think he’s one of the realest rappers out there.”

They will also be releasing 2 mixtapes online, one by Zushan and the other by Kwizyne, in addition to the launch of the Monkey King official album, in conjunction with their tour around Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

“All of us have different styles of music. We come from very different backgrounds and we do very different stuff such as rap, R&B, hip hop and electronic music,” says Zushan, one of the founding members and artistes of the label.

Diverse yet versatile, these guys are on the front line of the local hip-hop music movement, defying all the negative stigmas of Asia, especially of our multicultural metropolis. The label prides itself in “writing raps, which inspire people and relate to their struggles, [and] pushing boundaries for what it means to be Asian”.

They have a key weapon: a resolute and unmistakably business savvy CEO. Filled with optimism and faith in Singapore’s music arena, he leads the 1or8 Faction artistes in embarking on a musical revolution.

“[The local scene] is diverse and niche. Some people say it’s too small, which it is, but that brings about a lot of unique ideas, room for adaptation [and] growth, and space to define what Hip Hop is to Singapore,” attests Yamamoto, who owes his British accent to his early years in the UK (United Kingdom).

Previously, 1or8 Faction had raised the benchmark for rappers here by hosting No Sheath Holster, Singapore’s first premier rap battle league at Home Club in March.

They also joined forces with Soul Theory Studios in May and pulled off a radical Ladies of Hip Hop event where they aimed to redefine Ladies Night— a promotional event at clubs or pubs where female guests enjoy a complimentary entry. Their mission: to boldly “go against the stereotype of [women being] just being video vixens, chorus singers and one verse lyricists”.

“1or8 Faction will expand to include more of the arts; dancing, art, literature works, musicians. As far as business wise, we’ll expand it across Asia first, building a 1OR8 headquarters in the regions of Japan, Sri Lanka, and the US,” adds the affable entrepreneur.