Words and Illustration by MC Galang
‘Cigarette and Condom (She Got It)’ – BIBI (KR)

A day before Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” music video dropped, I was humming along to South Korean singer and FEELGHOOD music signee BIBI’s “Cigarette and Condom (She Got It).” The wordplay “She Got it” (and the “clean” title, I suppose) is, at the very least, a safe-sex PSA (“I can feel some rubbers under my back / You have to pack, pack of cigarette and condom / Where are you, ah, in my bag”), but its implications reach far. After all, here’s a fringe R&B-pop track—complete with all the bubblegum-ness and visual sparkle of mainstream K-pop—that subtly and overtly references sex. Break the ceiling!

In a week (and past centuries) where women who claim agency and pleasure in healthy, human acts are deemed “raunchy” or in need of medical attention for invoking female sexuality, there is much to celebrate and perhaps a moment of self-reflection that (straight) men need to go through, beginning with this question: why so threatened?

Stream on Spotify

‘Disco (Bad dance doesn’t matter)’ – chelmico (JP)

The Japanese rap duo are back with an ostensibly pop-funk single that comfortably embraces their fast-paced rhythmic delivery and lyrical spiritedness they’ve cultivated over the years (most recently with “Terminal”). 

Chelmico further navigates pop’s dimensions with their willingness to adopt its most appealing qualities: its accessibility and extroverted playfulness, as well as its decisiveness when it comes to presenting themselves. Although “Disco” pokes through the crossover realm, the duo sure knows how to maintain their sense of identity without compromising more than is needed. 

chelmico are set to release a new album, maze, on 8/26

‘Our Ballad’ – Hiperson (CN)

Chengdu’s Hiperson does not fit neatly under one category. Apple Music, ever the least reliable, categorizes the band’s excellent album (and Album of the Year contender) Bildungsroman as indie pop. Despite my misgiving about often-unhelpful (inaccurate) categorizations in streaming platforms, this should not distract from the fact that the artist and this record in fact blazes through contemporary rock and traditional Chinese folk music brilliantly, deftly plumbing through melodies and demonstrating impeccable songwriting instinct. 

“Our Ballad” is a visual distillation of Hiperson’s artistic identity: one that “reject[s] the shackles of recent history, harkening back to the essential, sensitive, poetic golden age of rock’n’roll.” It is an unsparing autobiographical work (as with the rest of the album) from stem to stern. Absorb it in full below.

Purchase the album

‘Ruled by Devices’ – Mazerboy (PH)

On “Ruled by Devices,” Mazerboy self-examines and castigates through the lens of societal greed, failure, and their consequences. Driven by acute paranoia, the track hems its lyrical and sonic structures from Huxley and post-punk, respectively. It’s not interested in masking its dread and offers no hope. It is what it is.

Read: Get to Know Mazerboy