Desi Hip Hop and a Distinctive Asian American Vibe October 17, 2006Posted by peterong in Asian American Church.
So I stumbled on this article on about Desi Hip Hop on Little India website (yes, I do sometimes stalk these websites…for inspiration and also feed my obsessed notions of Asian American faith and voice)…So it made me recall a discussion that I had with David Park, my new found soul blogger about the distinctives for Asian American worship…I felt that there was a real difficulty for Asian Americans to have that distinctive voice that is evident in latino, afro-american, and even caucasian churches…so we went around what are some Asian American distinctives in both narratives (yes, yes, the prodigal son stirs up a lot of issues for our confucian infused sanctuaries) and sound (Oh please not any of those Chinese Opera fusion music…or if I hear one more Korean drum…)…But, unlike Latino and African American churches, when you walk into an Asian American church, it sounds like a “white” church singing Chris Tomlin or Hillsongs….so we are left with a notion of co-opting these cultural styles and voices…so how does one recreate or reinvent itself?
Desi Hip Hop has seemed to accomplish this…here is a distinctive vibe have made a mark and reaches a new generation of South Asians to celebrate and explore their cultural expressions. I wondered how this plays out in an East Asian setting…Yes I remember Jin who signed and resigned from Ruff Ryders who gave us this legendary freestyle battle on 106th & Park (Don’t me rap in Chinese Holmes…Lay Fon Okay la…means take your sorry ass home…) I loved his rendering of Chinese stories in the work but never rose above to reach a mainstream audience…yet, it left me yearning…but as Dave and I spoke, I was left with a certain cynicism because of our aesthetic sound is very difficult to fuse…(no no Canto-pop is not distinctive except its occasional hiccup of Chinglish) …so, if we are to create an Asian American church that speaks to an Asian American distinctive…how does it look like? I think that Desi Hip Hop is an amazing experiment that is fulfilling that vision…and with it I can only hope that one day…that this Asian American artform will create Bhangra Basement Churches will thrive…and young people can come to worship and people crossing those thresholds will say…”aaaah, this is what an Asian American church sounds like…” (clapping is optional…of course)