More often than not, “Asians” and “Asian Americans” evoke the semblance of passivity and nerdiness in the popular imagination. What are the stereotypes that you associate with them yellow folk? I probably don’t want to know everything that pops into your mind, but the point is that many people imagine a shrimpy, World of Warcraft-loving, library-inhabiting mathematical mastermind as the standard Asian/Asian-American person. As diligent members of the model minority, we neither have the time nor the interest to pursue any endeavors that are not directly related to our musical instrument (most likely the violin, which our tiger moms forced us to pick up at the tender age of 3) or obtaining our MD-PhD (if you’re not a doctor, you’re probably going to be homeless). I hope you are catching my sarcasm.
I hate stereotypes almost as much as I hate the annoyingly loud chitchat of the ex-sorority sisters at the OTHER END of the coffee shop. And obviously this short blogpost will not even begin to challenge the negative ramifications of these stereotypes that cast Asian Americans people as high-achieving, robotic, and perpetually foreign aliens (Yeah, bro, you might think that you’re complimenting me when you say that I’m “exotic”…but I was born and raised in a small, Midwestern corn village, and I probably know way more about being a “hick” than you do).
That’s why I want to bring your attention to these Asian and Asian American hip-hop artists and simultaneous badass MCs. I can’t say that I am knowledgeable about their music or that I’m a die-hard fan because I just “discovered” most of them in the past two weeks—but I do feel that through their work and stake in hip hop culture, a culture that at its origins was aimed at articulating social issues and community concerns, they offer an important and alternative image of Asians and Asian Americans that deviates from the imagined norm.
Cool Calm Pete
Born in Seoul, South Korea but raised in Queens, New York, Cool Calm Pete’s smooth beats and lazy sound make his music ideal to kick-back and relax to.
“Black Friday” ft. RJD2
Jin is probably the most recognized Asian American MC with his pseudo commercially successful early 2000s hit “Learn Chinese.” Jin was the first East Asian and Chinese American rapper to get signed onto a major record label, and was inducted into BETs “Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame” for winning seven battles in a row.
Jin’s Best of Freestyle Fridays
Jin and Kanye!
The Blue Scholars
I LOVE the rap duo, Iranian-American DJ Sabzi and Filipino-American MC Geologic, of the Northwest hip-hop group, Blue Scholars. “Sagaba” is still one of my all-time favorite rap songs…definitely check that one out. The Blue Scholars lyrics are imbued with political consciousness and many of their songs cover issues ranging from hourly wage manual labor to immigration to the US’s neo-imperialist legacy in the Philippines.
Drunken Tiger’s lead man Tiger JK was inspired to form the group after witnessing the 1992 L.A. Riots and the growing tension and violence between the black and Korean American community (see Ice Cube’s “Black Korea”). He wanted to bridge the cultural gap between these two groups through hip-hop music.
Derek Kan and Theresa Vu make the hip-hop duo Magnetic North from Berkeley, CA. I’m especially impressed by female MC T-Vu’s concise lyrics and linguistic flow.
Yoon Mi-Rae, also known as known as Tasha Reid, is the half-Korean, half-African American K-Pop “Queen of Soul.” Though born in Texas, she currently resides in South Korea where she raps and sings in both Korean and English.
Hope you Enjoy!
MissDre (Your sole Azznnn She-blogger)