Please send me on a hip-hop tour to the States to start breeding a clan of Chinese hip-hop geniuses with two Chinese hip-hop genius husbands O-dub and Jeff Chang. I wouldn't contribute hip-hop or genius... but even Dancing Stevie concedes I can booty-dance. Would that be enough?
Not that you'd ever need it, but here's another reason to love Jeff Chang: his graduation speech just given to UCLA's Department of Asian-American Studies.
The possibility of another world can begin with the project of recuperating a progressive Asian American identity, one that stands against the totalizing push of global capitalism and the new imperialism, the disintegration of an anti-racist movement, and the destruction of other oppressed communities, particularly African Americans and indigenous peoples.
The primary recent reason to love Jeff Chang, Can't Stop Won't Stop, is coming out in Australia this July - perhaps a few copies will float across the Tasman? Chang's acclaimed history is not so much a history of hip-hop than of
the emergence of the hip-hop generation, through the cultural and the political changes that we've made and that have made us.
Why are the two biggest hip-hop brains in America Chinese? Is it for Black kids to make hip-hop and history, and Chinese kids to write about it? Is it because we're all big geeks? As Chang said to the UCLA 44s:
For us, the Duboisian question is turned upside down, and is made to haunt us: How does it feel to be a solution?
More on geekiness will follow, I assure you. But not today.
Though he'd be horribly embarrassed by the comparison, New Zealand's current answer to Jeff Chang is my good friend Gareth Shute, author of HipHop Music in Aotearoa. Bizarrely but wonderfully and deservedly, this book is up for a Montana in the 'Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture' section. The bizarre part is his competition: a Moroccan cookbook, and a book on vineyards. Just comparing the cover art is a hoot. Even more so if you know what's going on at the end of that cropped-out hand.
As Gareth says on his blog: "If [Tze Ming] and I are the new intellectuals of this country then New Zealand is in big trouble..."
I certainly agree. But if the goddamn vineyards or tourist cookery win over hip-hop, we're in even worse trouble than he thinks.
You can vote for HipHop Music in Aotearoa in the Montana Reader's Choice section before the 15th of July here.
Oddly enough, Gareth owes his discovery of hip-hop to his childhood going to international school in Singapore.
intense mass longing to create history, to paraphrase Don Delillo, a deep desire to crush invisibility, to make culture that impacts the world and says "we're here". That's hip-hop.
Singapore is not hip-hop. I remember going to Zouk circa 1997, then and now the danceclub with the biggest rep on the island, or so I believe... The Other Mr Brown or Miyagi may beg to differ. The DJ spun Push It, I busted out the, uh, booty-dancing, and got stared at by girls in pastel doing the Singapore Side-to-Side-Shuffle. Ah, but that was a long time ago. These days we have the likes of Sarongpartygirl. [SPG's blogspot site not worksafe... Wait a minute... Sarongpartygirl is in Auckland?!? Watch this space folks...]
I also remember a big rap hit in Singapore being a song called 'Why you so like dat?' Sample lyric, I think: 'Why you so like dat? Ah? Why you so like dat? I give you my Kit-kat! Ah? Why you so like dat?'
Again - calling all S'poreans of age: did I dream this song?
A quick scan reveals a budding, though somewhat disdained, local hip-hop scene in Singapore. And wouldn't you know it but the gahmen is already attempting to suck the subculture into the state apparatus. Lee Hsien-Loong wants to use hip-hop to teach Singaporeans how to abandon Singlish, presumably in favour of Ebonics. Make this stop one? Can or not? Cannot lah. Do'wan!
But that's okay - Masia One, Singaporean-Canadian, is showing'em all how it's done.
While we're on the regional round-up:
The Shanghai scene is still rumbling along, and you can hear it here.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, can anyone answer this query on the Chinamantaggin talkboard: did Kanye really lift an intro from the Lazy Muthafuckas? And one from me: If DBF can make it as far as KL, why can't he get his Lazy MF ass over here? My dad managed it in 1973.
Stateside, making O-dub and Jeff Chang proud, newly released live West Coast footage capturing the overwhelming sexuality of the Notorious MSG is onsite now.
How does it feel guys, to be part of a solution?