Taipei music

9m88: “Love Is So Cruel”

Ranging from Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA & GZA to Austin’s own Slothrust, the first step to truly appreciating an artist is knowing how to say their name correctly. So even though 9m88 may sound more like a robotic bounty hunter to a Native English speaker, when we loosely translate from phonetic Taiwanese, the actual pronunciation rolls off the tongue much more easily, “Jo-m-Baba” or “Joanne Baba”. With a voice like a Taiwanese Alina Baraz, 9m88’s jazzy spin on pop-R&B jostled listener expectations in the best way possible on her 2019 debut LP Beyond Mediocrity.

In the two formative years since then, 9m88’s entered her thirties and jettisoned some of Beyond Mediocrity‘s playful juvenescence in favor of a more mature mindset. To match that elevation, 9m88 recruited producers from across the globe to contribute to her sophomore full-length 9m88 Radio, which just came out yesterday. And just like a good station, it’s tough to pick only one bop off 9m88 Radio as a personal favorite, but the accompanying music video makes it easy enough to nominate the lush, Arthur Moon-produced banger “Love Is So Cruel”.