For the last couple of days, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been the talk of the town – and deservingly so. As Marvel's first Asia-led superhero movie, the highly anticipated addition to the Marvel cinematic universe is just as legendary as it was made out to be.
And, what better to accompany a superhero film than an equally action-packed soundtrack.
Helmed by 88rising in collaboration with the film's director Destin Daniel Cretton, the movie's official soundtrack brought together some of the biggest and talented names in Asian music. From Korean music heavy hitters like DPR LIVE and GOT7's Mark Tuan to talented rap stars like Rich Brian and Warren Hue to huge pop names like NIKI and JJ Lin, Shang-Chi: The Album is an entire experience of its own – one that's definitely for the books.
"Music is such an important piece of a movie and we're all so lucky to get to be a part of that for Shang-Chi. And the fact that it's so historic – the first Asian superhero movie – is insane," says Rich Brian, in a press conference.
Talking about their work on Shang-Chi's soundtrack, NIKI, Rich Brian, and Warren Hue – three of the most featured acts on the movie's tracklist – could not contain their excitement, frequently mentioning how unfathomable it was getting to work on a Marvel movie.
"It's been an insane privilege and honour obviously to be part of something as gargantuan as Marvel. It's awesome being part of a project you feel directly represented and seen as an Asian person. "I don't think it fully processed for me until I was in the theatre watching the actual movie," says NIKI.
"I was the biggest Marvel fan growing up and just seeing the first Asian superhero on the big screen, it's going to do a lot for the [community] and for the kids who look like us. It's super exciting and I had the best time working on this, I've never been happier," says Warren.
"It was nuts just seeing what we did in the studio for so many months on the big screen, especially in the credits and seeing our names on it. I'm really proud and really happy that we were able to be part of this huge Marvel movie soundtrack. I would have never even expected something like this to happen," says Rich Brian.
Across several months, the creative process behind the soundtrack was mainly done remotely, with each artist recording in their own homes or during sporadic studio sessions.
"Most of my songs were done in my guest room, which acts like a spare room and my studio. I just plugged in a USB mic into my computer and just tracked my vocals. I feel like it's really ironic that we're doing this gigantic, global Marvel soundtrack but most of it were done DIY in some way," shared NIKI.
"It reminded me a lot of when I was working on my first EP with just my headphones in a bedroom, it was kind of like paying tribute to that era. It's really cool to be able to say that my vocals on a Marvel movie were recorded in my guest room with a USB mic, I think that's pretty sweet."
"It was a really organic process, it was really fun. It was not what I expected working on a movie soundtrack, especially the entirety of it, to be like because it was just us [88rising] all together. I felt like Destin gave us a lot of freedom to do what we wanted, it was just up to decide on the mood. It was great," adds Brian.
In a previous press statement, 88rising CEO and Founder Sean Miyashiro shared how the album takes direct inspiration from Shang-Chi itself, diving into stories of unconditional love and the Asian-American experience.
Dedicated to family, Sean shared, "This album is for their sacrifice, their grit, and their endless endurance to give us the platform to be great. We wanted to make music and write songs celebrating all of that while marrying the themes of the film of cherishing family, being fearless, and realizing your destiny."
Working off of bits and pieces of the movie during their creative process, Rich Brian, NIKI, and Warren recalled using a lot of their own imagination and personal experiences to craft their songs.
"We were thrown themes to write on and used our own creative direction on the song. For the most part, we wrote from our perspective and what we know from our culture. It really goes alongside the movie because we're all Asian artists and we're just speaking from the point of view of how we grew up, which is what the movie is about too. It really worked out," says Warren.
"We also didn't get to watch the full movie until it was out, we only got to see a couple of scenes so I really had to imagine the story and what to write," adds Brian.
For NIKI, she also tried to hone in on the mindset and spirit of Xialing's character, whose warrior mindset and spirit heavily influences and inspired the 'Every Summertime' act.
"I had heard bits and pieces of what the story was going to be about and what Xialing was like so I just put myself into her shoes, and tried to figure out what she would want to say and what was important to her, especially as this powerful Asian female character," she shares.
"It's cool to write from the perspective of someone who isn't yourself. Writing for me is always quite personal but this one, I put on my Xiaoling hat and wrote what she would want to talk about."
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings officially premiered in parts of the world on 3 September and continues to be released across several countries. The Asian-led film will also be reportedly available on Disney+ on 12 November.
Listen to the official soundtrack of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings here.