Six-piece collective Balming Tiger is about to set fire to the hip-hop scene.
Taking their name from the iconic Asian ointment “Tiger Balm”, the self-proclaimed “K-Pop band” has somehow remained one of SoundCloud’s best kept secrets, with hundreds of thousands of streams on their debut mixtape Balming Tiger vol. 1: 虎媄304. What’s even more amazing are their wacky off-the-wall videos that make quite the first impression. “I’m Sick”, which has racked up 2 million-views, features Balming Tiger’s rapper Byung Un freaking out in a delightfully chaotic and messy video–going head-to-head with the group’s hardcore beats quite beautifully. On their latest venture “Armadillo”, they’re on the brink of another major breakthrough.
This time around, Un is joined by fellow rapper Omega Sapien, a recent addition to the collective. But on the hard-hitting “Armadillo”, the two trade verses over a grimy beat like they’ve been doing it for ages. Somehow, Balming Tiger have made a song that’s effortlessly hip. Goofy one-liners (“spicy bimbimbap-itty boo,” “already a sex tape, I’m a sinner”), random references (Nutella, green gorillas, Kylie Jenner, Google/YouTube), and out-of-place lyrics (“fish ladies need omega-3”) just add to the magic of the track. It’s quite the return for the group.
Also aiding with the track is a fantastic yakuza-themed music video by Japanese director Pennacky (who also directed one of our favorite videos of the year so far, Sobs’s Astronomy), which features Un and a green-haired Omega Sapien wandering around Japanese rooftops, ramen bars, and abandoned streets. Pennacky’s video captures a contemporary Japan on film, which can only be described in one word: cool. We’re fans.
Personality is a big part of hip-hop, and “Armadillo” is proof that Balming Tiger is just doing their own wild thing… whether we’re all watching or not.
Li-Wei Chu is a recent graduate from UC Davis who majored in Cinema and Digital Media who also briefly studied film at Queen Mary, University of London. Li-Wei is obsessed with horror films (especially the ones that give him nightmares), films from East Asia, and really, any film that makes you stop and think.
He loves talking about film and indie music with others. He’s also a record collector and cross-stitches when he has free time. In the future, he hopes to be able to write about film and wants to find a job in the film industry that can support his record buying habits. Maybe one day he’ll also be able to play the guitar.