Out of 2003 came the emergence of Asian rap star “Jin” with social cultural hit “Learn Chinese”. It appeared as refreshing insight into the music subculture of Asian American and attempted to bring a whole new perspective to rap music. It was a shout out at a rapidly growing popular trend by young Asians to get on the rap music money train and express themselves about their social concerns. One of those social concerns is how they are perceived by Americans. Much of the lyrics they sing contain a sort of animosity for racial stereotyping of their culture. Rap music has typically been reserved for the African American culture with a few white rap icons, like Eminem, bursting out into scene sparingly. Thanks to Jin, a message was developed but met with much controversy from Asians themselves. Most agreed the music including some background lyrics in Cantonese was little to be desired, and overall, was not what they would sing, but agreed in was an intriguing relief for his command of the English language. Many were not impressed, and yet some understood and appreciated his attempt at breaking social stereotyping of Asians in American culture.
Jin was discovered after a freestyle competition landed him into the arms of Ruff Ryder records where he was promptly signed. Since then, he has fused his career tight into the business of rapping. He did well in aggressively voicing his pride of “being a chinaman” in his lyrics, while dismissing the need for him to fall into the stereotype of Asian Americans by saying “your gonna learn Chinese”.
Maybe he had a point about us learning Chinese. Increasingly, we are witnessing the economy merge into universal highway where interactions with each other means we are gonna have to learn Chinese. Chinese is used all thorough out Asia, and rapidly being used in the western world. The old boundaries have been broken in media and arts, allowing emerging stars like Jin break onto the scene and popularize even more the Chinese culture. Chinese characters are now an art form found on the walls in homes. Fung Shui is a popular home design to encourage balance, serenity and prosperity. The Chinese culture rich in history promises restoration in life flows, almost guarantees success with what they value and believe. As westerners, we listened and became infatuated with their calm sense of being and their belief system. Even their work ethics have us silently amazed. To see Jin “learn Chinese” video represent china in a hip hop music art form was fascinating.
Jin has done a lot of variety of things not many know. For the “2 Fast 2 Furious” film he not only landed a small role as a mechanic, his song “Peel Off” was featured on the soundtrack. Jin also has a new album soon to be released in 2007. Whatever Jin chooses next, we have already tasted his influence on hip hop in a new delivery, bringing us that much closer to having to learn Chinese.
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