Friday, October 2, 2009

The Craze, Wonder, and Movement

(also featured in this month's MAASU newsletter)

With the start of a new decade right around the corner, a new era of music is underway. Listen up because this sound is just going to get louder. Hailing from all corners of the globe, Asian artists are bringing forth something that has been long overdue and it is exactly what many Asian Americans have been waiting for. The days of Coco Lee are long gone and enough time has passed for many to have recovered from the infamous American Idol audition of William Hung. This new wave of talented Asian artists is on the rise, breaking free of the stereotype, and trying to break into the ever-so-selective U.S. music industry.

The electronically-infused hip hop tunes of Far East Movement (FM) are gradually making their way across the country. originating from popular radio stations and clubs in Los Angeles. This dynamic trio made up of a Japanese, Chinese, and Korean- American, Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura), J-Splif (Jae Choung), and Prohgress (James Roh), started in the underground scene and are gradually made their way to becoming internationally known. When asked about the meaning of their name for a interview, they responded with “We wanted a very straight forward name… something that represented exactly what we want to do... so that we don’t have to be constantly rapping about it :)... what we wanted was a 'far east movement' into mainstream media and music. What the word 'movement' represents to us in regards to our name is that we spread one city at a time, east... touching everyone in the world until we're back where we started and opened peoples’ eyes and ears to something new”.

The chart-topping British artist of Indian decent who is currently gaining much recognition here in the U.S. and internationally is Kamaljit Singh Jhooti, better known as Jay Sean. In an interview for ‘The Asian ID Documentary’, Jay Sean says how “being Asian allows me to have a more rounded personality.. best of the west but also [… best] of the east.. I’m glad that I have that….Regardless of your [background], we all go through similar experiences… music, songs, and lyrics, transcend all those barriers… if a song strikes a chord with you, the first think is.. ‘oh I can relate’ not ‘brilliant song, but what color is he’s none of that. For me, I like to write songs that can touch a 15 year old girl in Southall, [England] and a 38 year old Brazilian woman.” When asked about other people being aware of his cultural background, Jay Sean responded with, “I think you can’t ignore it.. the fact that I’m [one of] the only Asian R&B singer in the world is a bit weird and it’s obvious, so people will notice it.. Just like when they noticed when Eminem came out, ‘look he’s a white boy and he’s very, very good at doing hip hop', of course to ignore it would be ridiculous.. so people are aware.. but after a while.. I don’t think they care.. now when I do shows.. it’s a loving mix of people at my shows.”

Popular artists from Asia, especially Korea, have tried to tap into the U.S. music scene as well. Artists include Boa, Se7en, and the current pop sensations the Wondergirls. The Wondergirls, made up of 5 ladies, Sunye, Ye-eun, Sunmi, Sohee, and Yubin, recently made their U.S. debut and toured with the Jonas Brothers this past summer. They have caused an international phenomenon and were chosen as a top girl group by Virgin Media, putting them among the Pussycat Dolls and Danity Kane. Their fan base is growing by the day especially since the world has not ever seen an Asian girl group like them before.

One common ground that all these artists share is the fact that they are Asian artists who want to serve as good examples of making it in the music industry to other Asians. Something that many thought would never happen is happening right in front of us, right now. It is about time that these Asian artists are making some noise here in the U.S. and around the world, catering not only to an Asian crowd, but to people who love their music. Hopefully this new wave of Asian musicians is here to stay, but time can only tell where this will lead. In the mean time, keep your eyes and ears open for Asian artists whose tunes might just be the next hit.

Check out and support these other artists (signed artists and popular youtubers):
AJ Rafael, David Choi, Gabe Bondoc, Heather Park, Jane Lui, Jazmin, Jennifer Chung, Jin the MC, Justin Nozuka, JR Aquino, Kina Grannis, Magnetic North, Marie Digby, Priscilla Ahn, Paul Dateh, Tatum Jones, Tim Be Told

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