A Brief History Of Asian Influence In Hip-Hop

Features

By: / January 29, 2014

VIBE goes eastbound and down for a recap of hip-hop’s Asian fetish


1992: Wu-Tang Clan imparts Shaolin wisdom on rap heads by slicing Kung-Fu classics like 1981’s Shaolin & Wu-Tang into their debut, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. 1997: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony swipes the name of Chinese general Sun Tzu’s page-turner about military warfare for the title of their third LP, The Art Of War. 2001: Jay Z dips into the interracial arm candy jar for “Girls Girls Girls,” off The Blueprint: “Got this Chinese chick, had to leave her quick/’Cause she kept bootlegging my shit.” 2002: Mariah Carey and Cam’Ron infuse elements of Japanese culture in their video for “Boy (I Need You),” featuring a Godzilla-like creature and epic swordfight. 2003: Pharrell Williams and Japanese designer Nigo stuff racks on racks with lucrative streetwear brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream. 2004: After a string of slanderous freestyle battles on BET’s 106 & Park, Jin becomes the first Chinese-American rapper to sign with Ruff Ryder’s and drops his debut The Rest Is History. 2006: Hip-Hop group Teriyaki Boyz put a spin on the 1994 Common classic “I Used to Love H.E.R.” with Kanye West before unleashing the title track for Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Draft five years later. 2008: The dancing masked marauders The Jabbawockeez moonwalk through the inaugural season of Randy Jackson’s brainchild America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV and claim the crown. 2009: Nicki Minaj knights her dolled up alter ego Harajuku Barbie, a nod to Tokyo’s community of bubbly, rainbow-fitted trendsetters. 2009: Brooklyn invades Bollywood when Jay Z superimposes himself on Panjabi MC’s “Beware,” flipping the monster Bhangra smash “Mundian To Bach Ke.” 2010: Tyga discovers the first lady of Last Kings, Toronto’s Cambodian rapstress Honey Cocaine, while hip-pop trio Far East Movement grabs the No.1 Billboard Hot 100 song with “Like A G6.” 2011: Childish Gambino gets swayed by Asian persuasion on his major label release, Camp. Sample line from “You See Me”: “Forget these white girls, I need some variation/Especially if she very Asian.” 2012: No I.D.’s R&B multiethnic songstress Jhené Aiko (Japanese/African-American/Native American) collaborates with Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Big Sean, Wale and Cocaine 80s, marking her most active year since the 2011 mixtape Sailing Soul(s). 2013: The Weeknd fuels promo for his sophomore effort Kiss Land with quick infomercials of Japanese hotlines, Hentai characters (aka naked Asian ’toons) and anime shorts.