Expat rapper SkiBs on how his new album 'East Meets West' is different to controversial 2012 hit ‘Hong Kong Kids’

Felix Yeung

Rapper Lucas Scibetta speaks about his growth as an artist and how his upcoming album has a more multicultural voice

Felix Yeung |

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Scibetta is currently in New York working on his new album.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Hong Kong rapper Lucas Scibetta – or, as he’s more commonly known, SkiBs.

The 23-year-old became a hit sensation after his 2012 single Hong Kong Kids, an expletive-laden ode to his youth, shocked the city. And although Scibetta has largely faded from the limelight since then, he’s ready to make his comeback.

“I’ve still been working on music,” Scibetta says. “I think, for the most part, we’re just doing it on a more professional level now.”

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The rapper is especially excited about his upcoming album East Meets West, which was inspired by years of studying with New York’s hip hop greats.

“I’ve been brought into the loop,” he says. “I was able to learn from people who were raised under the culture where hip hop is everything. They’ve put me onto the culture of hip hop, and everything.

Scibetta was a more impulsive artist when 'Hong Kong Kids' was released.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP

“I knew I could make [music], but I wanted to make sure to do it right.”

Though Scibetta has been active, he’s been happy to take a back seat for the time being. “I’ve been secluded, kind of studying and learning,” he says. “Besides that, though, I’ve only released things on the fly. If I felt like releasing something, I did that, but I haven’t released much.”

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For East Meets West, his biggest project to date, SkiBs has been drawing inspiration from his multicultural upbringing. “I wanted to wait to release a body of work that showed my journey of moving to New York, mixed with songs about Hong Kong,” he says.

Scibetta, who lived in Tokyo before moving to Hong Kong, has certainly had a more multicultural upbringing than most.

“I was able to experience different local cultures from a young age,” he says. “Seeing the differences and similarities between the east and west has allowed me to work with all sorts of people. There needs to be a voice that represents a multicultural point of view in this age of globalisation.”

It’s clear that SkiBs is no longer the impulsive kid from the Hong Kong Kids viral music video. Now, he looks back on his big song – which got a lot of positive and negative reviews – with a greater sense of regret and nostalgia.

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“I’ve always been the type of person that has a vision,” Scibetta says. “If you have a vision that you want to do something, there’s going to be people who love you and who hate you, on both sides. What’s most important is that you stay focused on what you want to do, no matter what.” Despite the furore Hong Kong Kids kicked up, he is grateful the song helped to kick-start his career.

“When something like that connects with people, it opens some doors. It kind of made me think like, ‘wow, if I can do that, I can probably do anything’.”

Now, a little wiser since the 2012 controversy and a little more experienced, SkiBs has some advice for young musicians hoping to make it big.

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“When you make music, [you should] step out in front of people with as much integrity and courage as you possibly can,” he says. “Pay respects to those who came before you. Make sure you attribute things to them when you learn from them, take from them.”

Although it’s hard to say whether East Meets West will reach the same heady heights as Hong Kong Kids, one thing is for certain – the album is a reflection of how far SkiBs has come as a person.

The rapper remains coy about his future plans. When asked where he sees himself in 10 years, he responded: “I could tell you, and I could tell the world, but I would rather show everybody.”

Edited by Ben Young