Archive for December 9, 2015
Youtube has been a media platform to gain a following that we have seen utilized by independent Asian artists in class already. Aspiring independent hip hop artists tend use youtube in a similar way. In order to gain a core following, they post videos and download links to songs on youtube in hopes of gaining a fanbase and becoming more popular. It lets them take creative control of their careers and gives them a larger stage and audience than an aspiring artist had before the internet age.
Asian rappers face a unique challenge in the realm of hip hop. Because hip hop is an African dominated genre, Asians are once again foreign. They find it hard to relate to the popular content focused around drugs, money, violence, and promiscuity. Asian rappers once again must face stereotypes when they attempt to enter this world because of the competitive environment where diss tracks can be raw and uncut personal stabs directed at rappers. They get the typical “small eyes” “small dick” “ching, chong, chang” type of barbs thrown at them by other rappers and in comments and are pressured to be lyrically dexterous or very popular in order to make it above these hurdles. Asian rappers, unlike their contemporaries have addressed ethnic and racial issues in their songs because hip hop is a genre where self expression is encouraged. They detail different challenges they get being in the industry just because of their race. Like different actors, they all do it in their own unique way and often put a comical spin on these issues. There are several Asian artists that have earned the respect of their peers in hip hop and have represented the Asian culture well in the process. Here they are:
Jin Au-Yeung – better known as Chinese-American rapper MC Jin was born in Miami, moved to New York to gain fame then relocated to Hong Kong for his career to create an all Cantonese hip hop album. He is currently back in New York after returning in 2012.
Jin got his big break in the BET freestyle Fridays segment where MC’s were chosen to freestyle battle each other for brief rounds and the reigning champion would continue to battle weekly. He won 7 battles in a row, inducting him into the freestyle Fridays hall of fame. He used reverse racism in his lyrics, glorifying aspects of Chinese culture to combat stereotypes in the bars thrown at him. He also gained fame for being witty and for actually being able to rap.
Jin would capitalize on his freestyle fame and sign a deal with DMX’s Ruff Ryders crew. After many delays and two singles (Learn Chinese & I Got A Love ft Kanye West) his album was finally released. It peaked at number 54 on the Billboard top 200. Jin later went into hiatus and relocated to Hong Kong to pursue other interests.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina Jonathan Park aka Korean American rapper Dumbfoundead was smuggled into America and settled into Korea Town, Los Angeles. Known as a class clown and frequent truant, Park dropped out of high school as a sophomore. He started hanging out with a creative known as Project Blowed took part in a freestyle work shop. He held many odd jobs before pursuing hip hop as a career. He got his break freestyling in the West Coast Battle Rap league Grindtime and the 2007 World Rap Championships. He became one of battle raps most popular figures because of his technical ability and wittiness in his rhymes. He has notably tough skin in the way he deflects blatantly racist bars and instigation from his opponents. He took a hiatus to focus on becoming an artist and has since released 3 albums and has returned to battling this year. His first battle back from hiatus against vaunted battle rapper Conceited, a member of Nick Cannons Wild N’ Out cast is currently the most popular English rap battle in 2015 and was complemented on by Drake himself.
Timothy DeLaGhetto aka Traphik
Tim Chantarangsu better known by his youtube handle Timothy DeLaGhetto or rapper name Traphik is a Thai-American Rapper, comedian, actor, and youtube personality. He started off with a youtube channel that featured skits, parodies, rants, and his own advice vlog column called ‘Dear DeLaGhetto’. His youtube channel currently has over 3 million subscribers and over 600 million views. He also has separate volg, music, and style channels as well. He’s also a member of Nick Cannons Wild N’ Out cast.
Keith Ape is a South Korean rapper whose Korean take on the hip hop “trap” sound has lead to his acceptance into the hip hop community in a cross cultural connection. His appropriation of Korean and Japanese culture in a hip hop style is what lead to this acceptance. His originality and conviction shined through to those who questioned his authenticity. He is also starting a wave of hip hop popularity within a younger Korean generation. He says he speaks for those who don’t like to listen to K-Pop. He was able to headline his own shows at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas as well as collaborate with some of traps musics biggest names on a remix of his hit “It G Ma” He was also able to shoot and record a music video and cause a riot outside the New York BAPE store with fellow rapper Ken Rebel.
Noah Chang PZ
I watch a lot of films. Good, bad, sad, mindless, thought-provoking films about the past, present and future. However, recently, learning about the roles, positions and portrayal of Asian Americans in the media in class has changed my selection process when watching films and critical lens. No longer do I thoughtlessly go for the most attractive stars, aesthetically pleasing posters, intriguing trailers and highest IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Instead I currently only watch films featuring Asian or Asian American actors and foreign (non-American) films. It is quite difficult to find American films with Asian American actors as main characters and not sidekicks or stereotypes. Luckily, one such film was recommended in class, Better Luck Tomorrow (2003).
The film features a group of delinquent, drug dealing, basketball playing, straight A Asian American high schoolers. Director Justin Lin offers another dimension to the conventional Asian American stereotypes in a classic American coming of age narrative. Academic and extracurricular excellence is put to use, stealing tests, writing and selling cheat sheets. The main protagonist makes the basketball team, only to be its bench warmer ad token Asian American. The all Asian American group smashes the model minority myth by thieving and committing acts of violence while dealing with issues like love, lust, greed and getting into a good college that often aren’t part of Asian American characters in media as they are often more occupied with struggling to speak English or ‘fitting in’.
Lin succeeds in casting Asian Americans in a film where the characters are not bound to solely being Asian American but also experience struggles and growth. He achieves this through deconstructing stereotypes while at the same time addressing racism and tokenisation, taking the model away from model minority through violence and crime. But does it have to be one or the other?