In December 2019, Hong Kong’s original rap band LMF celebrated its 20th anniversary by organising its own music festival, LMF XX Year Fest, in Kowloon Bay, where the group reunited to perform its hit tracks for thousands of loyal fans. Along with the band appeared a group of rising and established artists, including JB, Dough-Boy, Tommy Grooves, Seanie P and Matt Force, a pivotal moment that saw the passing of a torch to a new era of Hong Kong rappers.
“We dreamt of the day when we would finally be able to play a whole night of Cantonese rap music, and now we could finally do that,” says LMF member Chan Wai-hung, also known as Phat. Adds Leung Wing-kit, who goes by Kit, “Some of the kids these days are really good. We have to consistently practise, to keep up and make sure they don’t overtake us.”
Today, many young rappers are following the road that LMF paved for them while performing with pop acts like Sammi Cheng and Josie & the Uni Boys. Phat and Kit have continued their push to popularise the genre, working with their current six-member hip-hop collective, 24Herbs, which they established in 2006, and on their solo acts. Phat and Kit recently released a Cantonese-language track with JB, a fellow acclaimed Hong Kong-born Filipino rapper, that translates to I Want to Play with You.
As the barriers to entry in the music world have been torn down by social media and streaming sites, several artists are breaking through with just a laptop and a mic purchased from Golden Computer Centre, the tech gadget mall in Sham Shui Po. Bakerie Music Productions, founded by a group of friends including Seanie P, Dough-Boy and Tommy Grooves, have also made a name producing some of Hong Kong’s biggest rap videos and songs. Their 2017 track Li Ka Shing, which speaks about living on a dime and hoping one day to make as much money as the richest man in the city, garnered nearly two million views on YouTube.
“When we started, we were booked by a dingy club in Tsuen Wan run by triads,” says Seanie P (real name Lee Chun Shing) loudly above the banging of busy waitstaff at a café in Tsing Yi Maritime Square. “We were going to be paid HK$9,000. But after the show, the owners told us we weren’t worth the money and didn’t want to pay us. Eventually they gave in, and begrudgingly threw the money on the table and watched me scramble to count it all. But years later, when we got a little more popular, they saw Dough-Boy on the street, and treated him to a meal and apologised to him.”