A few years ago, at another website, I proclaimed that white people were saving Hip-Hop. I made that determination after attending the Rock The Bells outdoor festival. I watched white dudes go line for line with MF Doom, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and the Wu-Tang Clan. I respected white for fuxing with old and new artists and for copping tickets to hang out in the rain and mud just for the love of rap music.
White knows one thing if nothing else and that is how to preserve shit. If not for white there wouldn’t be any animal conservation movements or for that matter, outdoor Hip-Hop festivals. Okay, maybe there would be that one joint that Clear Channel does through its radio stations. But for any of you Hip-Hop acts that aren’t being played on the radio you will need white to help you pay your bills. Black people will NOT be coming out to see you perform your shit.
So we have established the importance of white folks to the survival of rap music, but when it comes to the survival of Hip-Hop culture on the whole we have to look to Asian peoples. Who else is still pop-locking and b-boying? Who else is still wearing adidas as if it were 25 years ago? Who else is starting streetwear companies like Bape, Mighty Healthy and Bust-Out? Full disclosure is that the Bust-Out brand is my peeps.
There isn’t a sneaker or boot that you can put on your foot that isn’t manufactured in some part of Asia. You can not separate that process from the culture. With all the commerce that Hip-Hop has generated since its inception it is now impossible to say that Asian people haven’t influenced and affected the culture.
I imagine that one day soon Hip-Hop will be shaped in the image of the Asian people that are in love and influenced by the culture. When I think about the image of Hip-Hop I think about rap music videos. Who is a more popular director right now in rap music than Rik Cordero? Yep, he’s of Asian descent too.
Tragically, the Asian disapora hasn’t produced too much renowned rap music. That was up until now. One half of the rap group Das Racist is an afrocentric Asian. Not content to simply be fans of Hip-Hop culture Asian folks are becoming trendsetting game changers. It was the god emcee Rakim who told us that “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”
The other idea that comes to my mind as to how Asian folks help save Hip-Hop culture is along the technological frontier. Hip-Hop is best represented by progressive, evolutionary ideas. Tech knowledge will be at the front of the culture for Hip-Hop to continue. No one embraces the need for tech advantages as well as Asian folks.
I say all of this to make the point that Hip-Hop will have to change in order for it to survive and prosper. Part of that change is the recognition and the acceptance of all the diverse people that make the culture fresh. It isn’t just the influence from the ‘hood that makes this shit click anymore. It’s getting energy and life from Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Calcutta and Kuala Lumpur.
In 2010 you should look to the east for that new-new flavor in Hip-Hop. Just not the US east coast, but the far, far east.