The Journey of “Viva Tirado”

December 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

“The Journey of “Viva Tirado”: A Musical Conversation within Afro-Chicano Los Angeles.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 22.4 (2010): 348-66.

Journal article (submitted, refereed).

Traces the various iterations of Gerald Wilson’s 1962 composition “Viva Tirado,” and how it has facilitated conversations between multiple generations of African Americans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles.

Background: A little over a dozen years ago, Josh Kun introduced me to what I describe as the “multiple iterations” of “Viva Tirado,” a jazz song originally composed by Gerald Wilson in 1962. The song was the most prominent of many written by Wilson – an African American bandleader – dedicated to Mexican and Spanish culture. Seven years later, in late 1969, it found new life in the hands of El Chicano, a band of young Chicanos out of the Los Angeles eastside who themselves were steeped in Black R&B and jazz styles. Their version of “Viva Tirado” became the definitive one, covered by many other artists through the 1970s, including in Italy, the Netherlands, Jamaica and Panama. In 1990, parts of their version became interpolated and sampled into “La Raza,” the groundbreaking Chicano pride rap song by L.A’s Kid Frost. The essay traces that journey, and in doing so, explores how the song has managed to be at the center of cross-cultural conversation between multiple generations of Blacks and Chicanos in Los Angeles. (A audio mix of many versions of “Viva Tirado” is also included on the JPMS web site).
Update: I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I realized on page 352, I mis-“placed” Kabuki Sukiyaki in Baldwin Hills when it’s very clearly (and rather obviously) in the Crenshaw district (3840 Crenshaw, to be exact). Embarrassing error on my part.

Rapping and Repping Asian…

April 16th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

“Rapping and Repping Asian: Race, Authenticity, and the Asian American MC.” Alien Encounters : Popular Culture in Asian America. Ed. M. Nguyen, T. Tu. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007: 35-68.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

Discusses the history of Asian American rappers, from the late 1970s and through the early 2000s, paying special attention to the ways in which these artists negotiate the challenge of racial authenticity as non-Black/non-White participants.

Background: My interest in Asian American rappers began in the early 1990s as a matter of personal curiosity. I was Asian American. I was a hip-hop fan. Ergo, when I began to read about Asian Americans making the jump from fan –> performer, I was intrigued. Then, when I began my journalism career in the mid-1990s, writing for both ethnic and music press, it made sense to integrate the two by writing on this emergent wave of Asian American rappers. I followed (as best I could) trends within that community through the early ’00s and graduate school allowed me to bring new sets of critical tools to thinking on and writing about the topic.
This essay was therefore a culmination of many years of thinking about the politics of race, representation and identity amongst Asian American rappers, beginning as early as the late 1970s and bookended in the “present” with the emergence of Jin in the early ’00s. Of course, Asian American rappers have gone onto evolve in myriad ways since then (but that’s another essay awaiting to be written.)

Book Review of “Hollywood Asian”…

January 8th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink


Book review of Hye Seung Chung’s Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance. International Journal of Communication, 1(1), 2007.

Book review in journal (solicited, refereed).

Reviews Chung’s “critical biography” of Korean American actor Philip Ahn and his long career in Hollywood playing a variety of “Asian” roles.

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.