These Are The Breaks…

November 8th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink


“These Are The Breaks: Hip-Hop and AfroAsian Cultural (Dis)Connections.” AfroAsian encounters : culture, history, politics. Ed. H. Raphael-Hernandez, S. Steen. New York: NYU Press, 2006: 146-64.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

Discusses hip-hop as a symbolic space through which Asian/African Americans encounter one another with both progressive and regressive results.


Background: I was approached to write this essay by Dr. Steen because it was felt that their anthology needed something about how hip-hop spoke to this core idea of interracial encounters between African and Asian Americans. Writing the essay came at an ideal, though challenging time, since I was rethinking many of my previous assumptions about the nature of Afro-Asian relations and beginning to examine some of the difficult lines of fracture that ran through previously idealized narratives of solidarity. Especially since this essay’s writing was timed during the explosion of press around the Chinese American rapper, Jin, there was a backlash of sorts in effect, critiquing how Jin was being framed as the Asian David in a community of Black Goliaths. Combining that with some other experiences of racial tensions, I try to explore how hip-hop serves as an important – but uneven – terrain on which African and Asian Americans interact and negotiate social relations.

Between the Notes…

November 8th, 2001 § 0 comments § permalink


Between the Notes: Finding Asian America in Popular Music.” American Music, 19(4), Winter 2001.

Journal article (solicited, refereed).

Examines how trends in Asian American popular music-making reflects changes, tensions and aspirations within the Asian American community from the 1970s until present.


Background: This essay, my first published piece of academic work, represented a culmination of nearly 10 years spent researching the politics of identity amongst Asian American musicians. As an undergraduate and graduate student – as well as arts journalist – I had interviewed many Asian Americans involved in jazz, folk and hip-hop and used this essay as an opportunity to lay out ideas about how those musicians perceived the role of race and identity within their work. Asian American music is still largely understudied and theorized in my opinion (the excellent work of my mentor Deborah Wong excepted) and especially with the seeming explosion of musical interest in a younger generation of Asian Americans during the ’00s, there’s many new ideas to bring into that conversation.