Kris Wu Talks 'Antares,' Being Louis Vuitton's Brand Ambassador, and Mental Health in Hip-Hop


On Tuesday (Nov. 6), Kris Wu celebrated his 28th birthday by internet hosting an invite-only album launch occasion at a personal location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district. It was put collectively by Interscope Records and Beats, offering a packed house of his principally feminine followers a possibility to see the Chinese-Canadian star carry out songs off his debut album Antares, launched the prior Friday.

Wu got here by on the freight elevator, making a swift entrance together with his entourage. He stopped to greet followers, associates, and media who got here out to assist him. Established as considered one of Asia’s largest stars, he was beforehand a member of Korean boy band EXO, dipping into performing and modeling whereas constructing his identify as an artist who desires to bridge the hole between East and West. His model continues to realize extra recognition, driving this convergence of followers who both love him as an envoy for luxurious manufacturers, his performing roles, or his music, to the middle. When all of them come collectively, it's hysteria.

At round 11 p.m., Wu hit the stage to carry out a fast set that consisted of “November Rain” (coincidentally, it was raining in New York that day), “Deserve,” and the Chinese model of “Tough Pill” a cappella, which lots of his followers knew the phrases to already. With assist by DJ Wizz Kidd and DJ Whoo Kid, Wu simply wished to wrap up performing so he may hang around together with his followers and have a couple of drinks. Before leaving the stage with “Like That,” he thanked everybody for popping out this night.

“This is my first time spending my birthday out right here within the States. And often, on my birthday, I've an enormous birthday live performance. This yr, I’m with you guys and everyone seems to be particular,” he mentioned. Later, he obtained a birthday cake adorned with the Antares cowl, through which he blew out the candles to a spherical of cheers.

Wu’s Antares formally dropped on Nov. 2 within the United States. The album was not launched in China till Nov. 6, and the delay triggered controversy when Ariana Grande followers suspected he was utilizing bots to maintain Antares tracks within the prime spots on the U.S. iTunes gross sales chart -- stopping Grande's "Thank U, Next" from reaching the chart's prime spot -- making a wave of speculative headlines to the purpose the information was being reviewed by Nielsen Music and Billboard.

Scooter Braun, Grande’s supervisor, has personally reached out to Wu to clear up any confusion and wrote a prolonged assertion on Instagram, claiming that Wu's rankings have been on account of his Chinese followers buying his music the U.S. iTunes, and recognizing that “the music group is worldwide and now not held by borders.” Wu, too, maintains it's precise people who're shopping for his music, even poking enjoyable at a “Kris Wu makes use of bots” meme on Twitter.

In our dialog under, Wu speaks on Antares, working with widespread American producers, the dialogue of psychological well being in hip-hop, and extra.

What’s the that means behind your album title, Antares?

Antares is likely one of the brightest stars. It’s like 1,000 instances brighter than the solar.

What made you land on that identify?

I simply love the house and galaxy ever since I used to be a child. Even should you look on my Instagram, it says, “Galaxy Fanfan.” So all my followers know that I'm tremendous taken with exploring house. When I used to be fascinated about a reputation for the album, I began taking a look at random stars. Whether they have been dope or particular names, particular meanings -- any stars that could possibly be associated to me. This one sort of popped up.

The that means is sort of dope. For one, within the Western world, it means Heart of a Scorpion. In China, it means Heart of a Dragon. It’s sort of dope as a result of my horoscope, I’m a Scorpio, and in China, Chinese folks would name themselves the middle of the dragon. It’s an excellent highly effective image. I really feel prefer it’s an East and West sort of connection on this one star. That’s why I made a decision to call it Antares. I additionally really feel just like the identify sort of generates curiosity. People don’t know what it's till they Google it or one thing.

In April, Billboard reported you signed an unique worldwide recording contact with Universal Music Group. Take me by the deal and what it means for a Chinese artist?

It was simply good that now I've a label behind me. Before, I used to be at all times sort of unbiased. Even all of the singles I put out within the States have been unbiased. The tune with Travis [Scott] -- “Deserve” – [was] just about unbiased. It wasn’t till this album that I lastly obtained a label deal. Universal and Interscope, they at all times wished to have a world artist to interrupt by within the U.S. I informed them how I felt, how I wished to bridge the East and West with my music. And then, they appreciated it they usually have been with me on that. We sort of share the identical purpose: Really constructing me as a worldwide artist.

You additionally turned a model ambassador for Louis Vuitton and modeled Off-White’s S/S 2019 Collection.

They have by no means had an international ambassador, and it's undoubtedly an honor to be the primary ambassador for Louis Vuitton. I undoubtedly had connections with them. Obviously, Virgil [Abloh] is with Louis Vuitton now. I’ve been associates with him for 3, 4 years already.

When he first got here out with Off-White, I used to be one of many first supporters in Asia to rock his stuff. We turned Instagram associates at first. He was like, ‘Oh, you’re rocking these? These are dope.’ We have been DM-ing and he mentioned he wished to make some customized piece for my live performance. This was again within the day, so we at all times had a connection. And after I heard he was shifting to Louis Vuitton, I believed it was actually dope.

Do you see your self making a line with them?

Yeah, most likely. I used to be even fascinated about again within the day doing one thing with Off-White. Virgil and I have been speaking earlier than, simply doing a restricted run. I used to be tremendous busy and I couldn’t make it occur. I believe with Louis Vuitton, we have now a deeper connection now. I believe we'd be capable of do one thing. It could be Louis Vuitton x Kris Wu or Off-White x Kris Wu.

What do you concentrate on Off-White being the preferred model proper now?

Yeah, particularly in China. It’s simply so widespread. Everyone rocks it.

Let’s speak concerning the options on the album. You have Travis Scott, Rich the Kid, and Jhené Aiko.

The one with Rich the Kid, it was only a actually enjoyable tune. I wished to put in writing a tune about vehicles as a result of I like vehicles. I wished to have one thing to bump within the automotive whereas I'm driving. So that’s why I made the tune, “Coupe.” You can inform by the identify that it's a automotive kind of tune.

And Rich the Kid, he appreciated the file and hopped on it. It was actually enjoyable capturing the music video. I introduced out like 10 vehicles. They have been all mine. My private vehicles. We have been on set, capturing, and it was tremendous lit. He was actually feeling it and vibing to the music. We shot it tremendous quick and it seems to be nice. And it’s accomplished. It’s most likely going to drop quickly.

“Freedom” with Jhené Aiko, we wished to see if we may discover a feminine vocalist as a result of I by no means had a feminine artist collaboration. The hook is tremendous melodic, and it will match an R&B kind of vibe. We simply considered Jhené Aiko nearly immediately. I believed she could be good for the tune. She’s additionally very choosy about her selection of songs. It seems she actually likes the tune and he or she minimize the tune. We shot a music video for it.

“November Rain” is produced by Murda Beatz, who has had a run with Migos and Drake. Talk about working with him.

He’s tremendous dope. Before I even met him, we have been simply FaceTiming. A pair days in the past when the file went No. 1 on iTunes, his supervisor and him simply FaceTimed me straight away. They have been like, ‘Oh, the file is No. 1!’ We have been simply actually celebrating. It was good. It was undoubtedly dope working with him. I believe he's a really proficient producer. I stay up for making extra hearth stuff with him sooner or later.

What about Travis? Do you need to do extra music with him?

I believe we should always. Once this album is finished and I do all of the touring, as soon as I get prepared to return in once more within the studio, I’ll undoubtedly attain out to some producers or artists earlier than that I've synergy with and we’ll see what occurs.

You have some Travis’ producers in your album -- Wondagurl and Frank Dukes.

Yeah, Wondagurl is tremendous lit. The entire vibe that she’s on, I find it irresistible. I’m undoubtedly fascinated about working along with her once more. Definitely considering of performing some extra tracks along with her. The second you hear her stuff; it says "Wondergurl." She’s very proficient.

Louis Bell is on Antares too, who produced Post Malone’s “Congratulations” and “Rockstar.”

Louis Bell is making a lot cash. Next to Metro Boomin, he’s just like the second-biggest producer making essentially the most cash. I learn it someplace. There’s like a chart, and Metro Boomin is No. 1. This could also be final yr, perhaps not this yr. Louis Bell is No. 2. He’s tremendous proficient. He makes all types of sounds, all types of stuff. [He has] actually good musicality, and actually good sense. I undoubtedly need to work with him once more too.

You spoke about this album having loads of melodic-style rapping. Was the entire concept to showcase your versatility in doing pop and hip-hop?

Not actually, not in that sense. I nonetheless wished to maintain the album city. The base ought to at all times be hip-hop and concrete. There’s extra stuff leaning in the direction of pop. Some stuff leaning in the direction of R&B. The basis I at all times had was very city leaning. That by no means modified.

In phrases of the tracks, I wished to have several types of sounds in there. I really feel like it's my first album so I wished to inform folks what I've been on for the previous couple of years. So they've a basic concept of what kind of sound that I’m doing and what I'm influenced by. I undoubtedly modified the songs so much. What I believed was going to be on the album I took out and changed it with different songs.

You have three songs which are fully in Chinese.

Yeah, one is “Tian Di” (天地) and that's in fully Chinese. The different two songs [“Tough Pill” and “Hold Me Down”], I even have two variations for it. There’s an English model and there’s a Chinese model. I wished to make them for my followers again residence in China.

“Tian Di,” I simply wished to maintain it solely Mandarin, solely Chinese. I simply wished so as to add a unique style, and since the album would come out within the West, I wished folks to know the place I come from. I undoubtedly wished to maintain that every one in Chinese, and that’s why this observe is on the album.

What does the tune imply in English?

It means "Heaven and Earth" -- it simply means, sky's the restrict. Breaking boundaries and conquering. Don’t care about folks doubting you. Keep doing what you’re doing. Very constructive power, very robust angle.

On “November Rain,” you sang “suicide after I can’t see my shorty.” Is that one thing you felt earlier than about somebody?

Yeah, perhaps sooner or later after I was youthful. This tune for me is sort of private. It’s considered one of my favourite songs on the album. Growing up, I at all times felt that I used to be the outcast. I’m with my mother on a regular basis and he or she’s at all times busy. The cities that I grew up in Guangzhou in China or Vancouver, it will at all times rain within the month of November. I suppose New York, too, as a result of it’s been raining so arduous. [Laughs.]

I at all times catch that very moody and unhappy kind of vibe. In my reminiscence, I at all times had that. Maybe I used to be youthful, I had some heartbreaking break-ups. If this was the 15-year-old Kris, and this was on the radio or popped up on my playlist, I'd undoubtedly add it on my playlist and hearken to it.

Mental well being in hip-hop has been an ongoing dialog nowadays. Take me by the distinction of psychological well being in China versus psychological well being in America. Is China open to those discussions?

Sometimes, it will possibly get very delicate. You simply can’t actually say an excessive amount of about it. That’s how the tradition is. Especially me, as a result of I've so many followers which are very younger, I don’t assume folks will prefer it. It is unquestionably completely different.

Is it an indication of weak spot?

Nah, I simply assume that’s how the tradition is and the way youngsters are raised by their dad and mom. And how the society is. People [keep] extra to themselves. Frankly, folks simply don’t categorical themselves.

What do you concentrate on the conversations in America about psychological well being?

I believe it's dope. If a tune is ready to assist somebody, encourage somebody, or heal somebody’s ache, that’s essentially the most stunning factor that may occur. That’s undoubtedly considered one of its functions that music can present.

On “We Alive,” you rap, “Coming up, arising, I keep in mind that street/ I used to be dwelling at residence, it wasn’t too way back/ Now we on a experience, yeah/ It’s like I’m at all times on the street, however they love me again at residence.” Can you inform me a time if you have been at your lowest level in your music profession and felt such as you wished to provide this up?

There have been instances after I felt drained from all this, and I simply wished to step away. There’s instances like that. Obviously, I saved going. I principally do it for my followers. I felt like I didn’t need to disappoint my followers.

Why did you need to get away? Was it since you have been juggling performing and modeling?

I undoubtedly have accomplished loads of stuff. Because I by no means settle and I at all times attempt to be a pioneer, I attempt to nearly do the unattainable in China. A variety of instances it’s individuals who don’t actually perceive what I'm doing apart from my followers. People don’t attempt to perceive you, and albeit, they simply don’t they usually gained’t perceive what you’re doing. I actually don’t care what these folks assume as a result of I do know I’m doing what I love to do and that is me. And I've my followers supporting me. If I care about them and I stop, that’s not me. That’s not who I'm.

You’ve mentioned if you’re within the studio, it simply feels proper. What is that feeling?

I believe it’s only a getaway for me after I’m within the studio. When I'm working or I'm some other place, there’s the web. I obtained my telephone. Everyone is texting me. All this stuff. All these voices. But after I’m within the studio, I can simply actually get in and simply be one with the music. Be myself. I really feel peaceable.

Have any Chinese artists reached out to congratulate you on the album?

Yeah, all of them did. It’s my birthday they usually all texted me, ‘Happy Birthday!’ They all checked out the album, they usually all thought it was actually hearth. They gave me actually good opinions on it. So in China, we use Weibo, so loads of guys reposted the album hyperlink. I’ve been getting actually good suggestions.

What is one you can share?

His identify is MC SizzlingDog. He’s an OG rapper from China, and he was on The Rap of China with me as a choose. He really mentioned when he reposted it, ‘First of all, glad birthday Kris. And second of all, it ain’t straightforward placing out a full album proper now in China. Current day. I assist you it doesn't matter what.’ That was fairly dope.

People out right here gained’t perceive what he's saying, however that's the case in China. Lots of people don’t put out albums anymore trigger all they do is singles. Just a little bit extra could be an EP, three songs or 4 songs. But the album is sort of useless in China. The entire music business hasn’t been doing nicely up to now 20 years. Really so much folks stopped placing out albums as a result of there’s actually no level for it. People don’t even hearken to it. There’s actually nowhere to advertise your music. You can’t make a lot cash along with your music. Royalties, loads of stuff is fairly tousled. People stopped placing out albums a very long time in the past.

It’s probably not a standard factor if you see somebody on the peak of their profession put out a full-length album. When he mentioned that, I used to be like, ‘Dang. Word, thanks.’