If you've somehow managed to avoid falling in love with Higher Brothers, Chengdu's greatest rap export, over the past 18 months, consider this your last stand. The quartet's new single, "Open It Up," premiering at the top of the page, is their first real trip into hazy, old school beats—a far cry from their exuberant collaborations with Ski Mask the Slump God and their low-key brilliant remix of Desiigner's "Panda." It's also their best single yet, a confident, dextrous, irrepressible slice of throwback hip-hop that sounds completely natural as it slides between Sichuanese and English. Just about every line is brilliant and gently poetic in translation, but MELO's second verse stands out: "The bright lights, big city, and hedonism can't numb me / A cheap rental, working, hiding in the corner / It's been tough, but now there's so much glitter."
In an email to Noisey this morning, MaSiWei wrote that the single was inspired by Playboi Carti's set at Rolling Loud, which Higher Brothers visited for the first time last year. "It was our first time going to Rolling Loud—the most hip-hop music festival in America," he wrote. "Right after we arrived, Playboi Carti was playing. He spent half his set saying 'Open it up, open that shit up.' It was surreal. So we were inspired to take this new school phrase and pair it with an old school beat. It can pump up the crowd but it can also mean to open your heart up. It just depends on what it means to you. And that’s what hip-hop's about."
This is the first single from their new album, Five Stars, which is due out February 22. Watch the video for "Open It Up" at the top of the page, and pre-order Five Stars right here.
Alex Robert Ross plucks out the stars to make midnight trimmings. Follow him on Twitter.