Year of the Ox's "Viral" Song Gains Traction Amid Rise in Anti-Asian Violence

JL, one half of the Korean-American duo, reflects on the 2020 song that tackles the instances of pandemic-fueled anti-Asian American crimes.

View this video on YouTube

About a week after the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, hip-hop duo Year of the Ox released a powerful video for “Viral”—a track that addressed the rise in anti-Asian crimes linked to the health crisis.

The 2020 visual includes viral footage of various attacks on Asian Americans at a time when political figures began using xenophobic rhetoric while addressing the disease. Former president Donald Trump was arguably the biggest offender, as he was widely criticized for referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and “kung flu.”

“What inspired the song ‘Viral’ was seeing the countless videos of Asians being assaulted and then seeing Trump calling it the Kung Flu, we felt something needed to be said,” JL and Lyricks told Complex. “For the video, we felt that more than us performing the song we would make it more of a slideshow of some of the clips that we had seen.”

Though “Viral” premiered nearly a year ago, it received a second wind earlier this week, amid another spike in anti-Asian American hate crimes. Lyricks reshared the video on his Instagram page along with the caption: “Released last year in 2020. Unfortunately the problems are only getting worse. #STOPASIANHATE.”

“We need solidarity and more media coverage because these assaults are becoming normalized to the point where even our people don’t realize how serious the issue is,” Year of the Ox said when asked on how to prevent anti-Asian racism. “The issues aren’t about race or color, they are human issues.”

You can watch “Viral” via YouTube above.

Year of the Ox recently released part two of their self-titled studio album, the follow-up to last year’s The Rollout EP.

“During the pandemic we felt our attention spans had shortened so we decided to stagger the release in order to build anticipation for the new music,” the duo said, before explaining the message behind the project. “This was our way of coping with the pandemic and we hope that it brings some kind of relief or comfort for our listeners. The mission statement being stay sane and find ways to express yourself and let it out.”

Latest in Music