In celebration of the role that Asian Americans have played in hip hop, the Philadelphia Asian American Film & Filmmakers organization will be hosting the sixth annual Asian American hip hop Showcase on Friday, November 15. Taking place at the Asian Arts Initiative in the city’s North Chinatown section, the showcase will be hosted by Chops and will feature performances from DJ Roli Rho, Rapper/Activist Aisha Fukushima, Miyachi, and the duo of Jason Chu and Leo Xia of NITEMRKT. The showcase promises an evening of dope and coming hip hop talent from an Asian American perspective.
In the video for their 1999 hit single “Galaxies: The Next Level”, pioneering West Philly Rap trio Mountain Brothers gives a warm snapshot of what Philly’s underground hip hop scene was like in the late 90s. We see B-Boys dancing at Love Park, Peril-L (Chris Wang) is skateboarding, Chops (Scott Jung) lays down beats on his Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, and Styles (Steve Wei) kicks rhymes at the now-defunct Cue Records store on South Street.
At the time, the three Asian American rappers with dexterous flows and jazzy beats were definitely an anomaly.
In the 20 years since “Galaxies...:” was released, the Mountain Brothers have gone their separate ways and hip hop’s cultural landscape has changed dramatically. From the work of artists like Jay Parkand Kero One, to films like Always Be My Maybe and Bad Rap, Salima Koroma’s 2016 documentary on Asian American rappers, the contributions of Asian Americans to hip hop culture are now widely acknowledged.
What, Where, When
The Asian American Hip Hop Showcase, hosted by PAAFF, is on Friday, November 15 at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $10 and are available online.