May marks Asian Heritage Month—it’s a straightforward title that represents the incredible diversity and art that comes from the region’s creators. To celebrate the music of Asia’s multiple cultures, from the Philippines to Pakistan, we’re amplifying a wide range of voices through two playlist takeovers.
“Growing up with one foot in the West and one in the East, Asian Americans have had to navigate the hyphens of their identity,” says Himanshu Suri, Spotify’s Senior Editor, Indian Culture. “This month, with playlists like Beast Meets West and No Borders, we get to celebrate our culture and see artists who speak for us and our experiences. Visibility is important!”
The first playlist, Beast Meets West, brings together East Asian creators of all genres, from K-Pop idols like BTS and BLACKPINK to indie singer-songwriters like Mitski. No Borders, meanwhile, highlights the South Asian diaspora across genres and geographies. The playlist features talented South Asian Americans, Brits, Canadians, and more.
“It’s through celebrating our culture, our heritage, and our identity that we’re able to encourage people who look like us to dream big and pursue whatever they want—especially in arts and entertainment,” says Korean American singer-songwriter Eric Nam.
Nam is just one of the artists we spoke to for Asian Heritage Month. We also asked several other East Asian and South Asian creators for a song—whether their own or another Asian artist’s—that represents both the culture and spirit of this month. Read on for some of their recommendations.
Far East Movement: “Our homegirl Tia Ray is one of the most incredible singers we’ve had a chance to work with. What’s beautiful … is that she’s singing in Mandarin and English—it’s really a cross between two cultures and represents what our future album is going to be.”
Yuna: “I chose my track ‘Forevermore’ because it’s very Malaysian, and very close to me. In the beginning of the song I start with an old Malay poetry melody that I used to listen to a lot growing up. Even the music video is a tribute to my hometown and my home country. Always be proud of who you are and where you come from.”
Epik High: “Growing up and living as Asians was a beautifully unique experience for us. But at the same time, we had to struggle through the pressures and expectations unique to our heritage. We hope our song ‘Eternal Sunshine’ can be a shoulder to rest on for those who feel the same way.”
Tiffany Young: “One of my favorite artists right now is Peggy Gou. I love how innovative and fresh she is and how effortlessly she blends all the cultures she grew up in, whether it’s through her lyrics, her choice of instruments, her production, or her amazing fashion taste.”
Jay Sean: “Fifteen years ago, I started writing songs that were fusions of bhangra, R&B, and hip-hop. Since then, I’ve always tried to blend different sounds from around the world. My new single, ‘With You,’ featuring Gucci Mane and Asian Doll, is probably the most unique R&B/trap/hip-hop fusion that I’ve ever done.”
Arjun: “My song ‘Closer to Home’ is all about being true to your roots and your culture. It’s in four languages: English, Hindi, Arabic, and Ghananian.”