Friday, August 26, 2011

Rap (Part 1) - Asian Hip Hop

If you had told me in the 90s that there would be an Asian hip hop group with a #1 hit, I would've called you crazy and called the cops on you, because back in the day when people heard the word "asian", this is what popped up in their heads:
Hang on Lady we go for ride!!!
or this:
Rufioooooooooooooooooooooooooo

There was a time when I was really into rap music.  And I started listening because of my friends John and Paul (from here on out I will refer to them collectively as The Pope).  I was (am) a nerdy asian kid, jumping on the rap bandwagon around a time when rap was already diverging in very different directions.

Thanks to MC Hammer and the the sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire, rap music and rappers were catapulted into the limelight, while Vanilla Ice came along and showed everyone that rappin' ain't just for African Americans. It allowed traditionally uncool white people and asians to enjoy a new style of music that was fresh, dope, hype, rad, and all those other words from the late 80s/early 90s that we don't use anymore.

OG's (Original Gangstas) and hip hop purists distanced themselves from this so-called "mainstream" watered down version of hip-hop (you'll still get clowned for listening to Will Smith in the ghetto) and preferred something more hardcore and gangsta like NWAPublic Enemy, Geto Boys, 2 Live Crew, etc. which typically featured a lot more cussing, violence, politically-charged ideas, drugs,and degradation of women.

So the rap battlefield looked something like this:

 VS  VS

VS

Look at this picture from "The Walking Dead"
... they still think we all look like Short Round!

Rap music and hip hop culture was embraced by young Asian-Americans, and while most of us just liked the music (perhaps because we could could relate to the discrimination, prejudices, and other injustices that young gangstas, pimps, and drug dealers faced).  Some straddled the fence between hardcore and mainstream, while others adopted hip hop as a lifestyle, leading to numerous aZiaN dance crews, DJs, hip hop artists, eventually asian youtube stars, and pictures like this:

Ok back to the history lesson...In 2001, a Chinese rapper named Jin took part in freestyle friday rap battles where you dis each other and talk about each others' momma's and girlfriends.  Jin achieved instant notoriety when he won seven battles in a row and was inducted into the Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame (I got this off of Wikipedia, sucka... do you think I just knew this off the top of my head? You must be crazy...)
Somewhere along the way was a Filipino-American named apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas fame.
Then in 2010, apparently Far East Movement had a chart-topping single called Like a G6.
I was completely oblivious to this until I came across the parody: Roll a D6.  

"What?" I said.  "The original song was by some aZian tHuGz?  Like the same ones who stole my spoiler?? Daaaang, what happened to the America while I've been gone?"  Far East Movement was even in Singapore back in March but I had no idea who they were.  Seriously, I've been living in a cave.  Anyway, I'm happy for them, because they're Asian, and because when sober girls around them they be actin' like they drunk, and well, Asians always root for other Asians, like Michael Chang, Yao Ming, Jeremy Lin, even Wang Zhizhi and Yi Jianlian. That's just how we roll, ninja.

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