Beijing-based singer-rapper-songwriter Lexie Liu always comes back to music. Whether taking a year off from school in 2015 taking part in South Korean talent show K-Pop Star 5, being the last female finalist on The Rap of China in 2018, and eventually dropping out of university altogether to dedicate herself to her craft, the need to express herself sonically has driven her life so far. Now signed with 88rising – the Asian-American platform who’ve worked closely with artists like Rich Brian and Yaeji – Liu’s star looks set to rise across both east and west.
Her music is as mercurial as her journey to pursue it. Even within the eight tracks on her debut EP 2030, we get a unique mix of dancehall-inflected tunes (“Strange Things”), the futuristic, cyberpunk “Nada”, poppy and upbeat “Love and Run”, and dreamy Mandopop ballad “Sleep Away”. Switching seamlessly between her native Mandarin and English, Liu crosses genres and cultures with effortlessness, ethereality, and freshness.
It’s this quality that has already earned her the title of “the voice of a Chinese generation”, something she acknowledges as “a double-sided thing”, but also one that ultimately inspires her to keep doing better. “Staying up all night wishing my life was not my life,” she sings on “Bygone”, a track that resonates across a diaspora of Asian kids trying to follow their passions without hurting their parents, and one of the more personal songs on 2030. Her outlook now is much brighter: she says she’s looking forward to touring and making more music to reach “a random person in a random place on this planet and trigger them to think about something that never came to them before”.