Being bold and rebellious has made The Low Mays a crowd favourite. The six-member independent hip-hop group first emerged in Hong Kong’s music scene in 2015 and within the following year, amassed a loyal following for their satirical themes and rhythm-centric approach to music.
Consisting of rappers Creme Supreme, Lil Hanwo, Butcher Fong, Matty Bospel, Yung Bumbleblee and Healthy Lin, The Low Mays pride themselves as the Godfathers of Cantonese trap music and Hong Kong’s Mong Kok (MK) youth counterculture. Since going viral in 2016, the group has sold out every single show that they performed in. In 2018, they released two highly-anticipated albums and recently made their comeback this year with a new viral single, a sold-out concert in Ocean Park and the release of their third album.
Now, The Low Mays is set to perform at Gluestick and Chivas’ upcoming Wet & Wild hip-hop independent festival on December 3. Ahead of their much-awaited performance, Tatler catches up with the group about being an indie hip-hop act, their approach to music and their hopes for the Hong Kong music industry.
What’s it like being an independent group in Hong Kong these days?
There was never really a question of whether or not we should remain independent for The Low Mays.
The traditional function of record labels to print and distribute physical records died with the digitisation of music. Anyone with a USB microphone and GarageBand on their laptop can make hits and become famous on a big platform like YouTube and Spotify or Apple Music—which is what happened to us in 2016. Thanks to the internet, we never needed any record executives or marketing team to develop or push our music and public image, everything has been organic.
That being said, we’d have to take up the functions of a record label on our own. For example, Nile Bun is basically the Artist & Repertoire (“A&R”) overseeing the artistic development of the group, and our manager, Justin deals with all the marketing and business aspects. It’s also important to have a good working relationship with talented music producers, video directors and photographers since the raps alone are nothing without them. It’s definitely hard work, but we’re probably the only 24 year-olds in Hong Kong who own all our master recordings.
You debuted in 2015. Has the independent music scene changed much?
Definitely. Over the past few years, significantly more Hongkongers have been paying attention to the “non-mainstream”, which is basically anything outside of ballad-oriented Cantopop and folk music. It definitely marks a cultural shift where people are tired of the old values and social conventions of a pre-covid and pre-political unrest time, and want to find new answers from local artists willing to break the mould.
In local hip-hop and R&B, we’ve seen a lot of new artists making it in the scene influenced by our past work and cultural impact. We’ve had younger artists come up to us saying we inspired them to stop overthinking and to start putting music out there. Not going to call them out by name though; we’re not trying to take credit for their success.
There are six of you in the group. How do you find the balance?
The Low Mays is sort of like a hive-mind. It’s the centre point between us that no one can claim to be on their own creation, so there’s very little ego involved. If someone has an idea, they throw it out into the group and everyone tries to manifest the vision together.