With summer upon us, the race for the song of the season is heating up. While there are numerous artists working for the title, a new rival enters the competition: Lay Zhang. And if I’m being honest, none of us are prepared for this album.
Over his career, Lay has presented himself to audiences in different ways. A notable child actor, he then moved on to performing on the stage, debuting in EXO-M. Still, those times, he acted only as one part in a unit. Over the past few years, however, he’s decided to stand out on his own.
In 2015, he made his first big moves. To start, he established his studio in China. Then he returned to acting in “Ex-Files 2.” Within a year, he released his first EP, “Lose Control,” which reached number 1 on the Korean and Chinese charts. Still, Lay’s star climbed even higher, breaking records and becoming a household name. With his own studio on his own terms.
It seems like Lay currently has his sights on conquering the US. With his third album “NAMANANA,” he became the first Mandopop artist to break into both iTunes top 60 albums and Billboard’s top 200. He even went to the GRAMMY Awards as China’s Promotional Ambassador in 2019. If you’re not convinced that Lay isn’t aiming for world domination, you’re not looking closely enough.
For the six tracks on “LIT,” he co-produced with producer Murda Beatz, who’s worked with Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Travis Scott.
That amazing blend of traditional Chinese music and trap! That was the two of them. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lay writes, produces, and composes nearly all of his music.
He released the first half of his upcoming album in June. The response from his fans has been explosive. The pre-order only broke nine certification records on China’s QQ music charts when it went live. Meanwhile, the album itself debuted at 36 on the Billboard charts here in the States. Today, he makes his biggest move yet.
For the conclusion, “Boom,” he’s teaming up with GRAMMY Award-winning producer/songwriter Scott Storch. The same Storch who’s worked with notable artists like Dr. Dre, Beyonce and 50 Cent. Lay has already shown his skill at mixing hip hop and his Mandopop roots. But working with a producer this strong only guarantees banging tracks.
With “Boom,” Lay’s 12-track album is complete. Some have described this as a cultural collaboration and that’s absolutely true. Without a doubt, Lay is an interesting artist because he has experience working in the American, Mandopop, and K-pop music industries. With “LIT,” Lay is leaving a big mark not only on Mandopop but on modern hip hop. He knows that the entire world has their eyes on him, and he’s telling them his message. With his hand in the promotion, production, and writing, “LIT” has his DNA and his story so tightly interwoven in it. If you ever found yourself curious about this artist, this is definitely the time to take a look.
Be sure to check out “Boom”. And, of course, be on the look out for the full LP.