By Eric Diep
Kris Wu, the multi-hyphenate entertainer, has had an active year in the States. In 2017, the Chinese-Canadian artist starred in xXx: Return of Xander Cage alongside Vin Diesel, and made an appearance in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets with Hollywood heavy hitters Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Cara Delevingne, and Rihanna. He’s balanced his music career with his silver screen ambitions, releasing catchy, melodic anthems like “Juice” and “Deserve” featuring Travis Scott to broaden his audience in America. As China continues to embrace hip-hop with the rise of Higher Brothers, Gai and his GO$H Music crew, Bohan Phoenix, and more, Wu wants to blaze a trail as a rapper who can become a star in both his homeland and in America.
Better known as Wú Yìfán (吴亦凡) in China, his early beginnings include a stint with the popular South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO. Once he decided to leave the pop group to pursue his solo endeavors, Wu tapped into his passion of hip-hop to create an experimental and futuristic sound, one that elevates his pop energy to new heights. His latest English single, “B.M.,” stands for Burberry made, a moody song that’s the sweet spot of rap’s popular tropes. It shows Wu has the talent and potential to really be a force in the game.
“B.M.” arrives as a promotional tool for his new winter collection with the luxury British brand. The 19-piece capsule collection, released this month, incorporates the 27-year-old’s personal style, featuring designs of his tattoos and lyrics from “B.M.” on each item. It’s the perfect way to share his story with new fans, building more momentum as he readies his debut album in America slated for next year.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Billboard in New York, Wu, who wore a combination of Burberry, AMBUSH, and AMIRI with a pair of Air Jordan 1 OFF-WHITE, talks about working with Burberry, meeting Pharrell and Dr. Dre, his thoughts on China’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, and more.
How did your Burberry collection come together?
I’ve been their ambassador for a year and a half now, close to two years. I’m super into fashion and I’ve been thinking it’d be kind of cool to have a collaboration. I was talking with them and they were down for it too. That’s just kind of what happened and we were like, ‘Let’s put this together.’ And I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’
They wanted this to be inspired by myself. We used some of my tattoos [on the pieces]. Some of the clothing will have lyrics on it too. For example, we’ll have a hoodie that’ll have lyrics printed on them from the song “B.M.”
What was like working with Christopher Bailey?
It was super dope. He’s just very creative and he’s very open to new ideas. For example, Burberry, they have a long history and it is a very classic brand. When I first sent the idea to him, [I asked him] ‘What type of song would you want for this campaign? Do you want like a classical, more like a slow jam, like a ballad?’ And he said just do whatever you want. Do what you feel like. And obviously I do hip-hop music so I said, ‘OK, then. I’ll probably make a hip-hop beat and make a hip-hop song.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, just do your thing.’
And he liked it?
Yeah, I sent over the track and he thought it was amazing. Just super creative, super open to new ideas. A very nice guy.
Was it a dream to always work with Burberry?
For sure. I’m super into their trench coats. I’ve been wearing them for a while. Even my mom, she loves them. Definitely working with Burberry is a dope collaboration, just a good opportunity.
Do you remember the first Burberry piece you bought?
Probably a navy blue trench coat from a couple of years ago. After I got into the industry, I got into fashion because before that I wasn’t really into fashion because I couldn’t really afford anything. After I got into this industry, and then I could start to afford them. I started to get into more of the high fashion stuff. Burberry was one of my favorites, too.
Let’s talk about your music. I see you in the same company as A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Kanye, etc., but pushing this futuristic, hip-pop lane that’s new and innovative. You’re dropping an English album soon?
Yeah, it’s probably going to be English. Some songs I might have two versions. One in Chinese for people back home, and one version that’s English. I’m thinking about that. But for the album that’s releasing out here, it’s probably going to be all English.
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