Jason Chu & Alan Z - Interview Transcript
[00:00:00] thank you both for jumping on the podcast.I’d love to start out with the help of introduction. I’d love to hearwhere are you from? Where’d you get started and what got you into the music business. what’s up, everyone is great to be here. My name is Jason Shu at to music. I’m a hip hop artist and activist based in Los Angeles, California. my motto is speaking hope and healing in a broken world. I’m just trying to make things that help feed people that help build community.
Jason Chu: build on the foundation that’s been given to us. So I’m super excited to be here. Ellen and I got this face value project. that’s rolling out this month. that’s my boy right there. Alan, let them know who you is.
Alan Z: Yeah. for those of y’all that don’t know me, my name is Alan Z rapper singer actor, based in Atlanta, Georgia. so I guess my goal in a similar way is to shift the paradigm. like I feel like change is good and change is something that is necessary when it comes to things that affect our people negatively.
So I’m always wanting to push the envelope and. Confront people on their [00:01:00] BS whenever I get a chance to, cause I feel like that’s the only way we can make progress as a society. So through my music, like when I rap it’s a lot of like competitive wrapping, a lot of like dropping facts and sometimes controversial edgy stuff.
And then when I sing, it’s that’s where all the pop sensibilities and melodic structure like songwriting structure comes in. So it’s like the duality of Alan Z is like the, like the. Music for the ladies and the music for Allen stuff that I want to do, which is bars. So
Masami: Yeah, no. And I’ve listened both of you for a good while now. And I noticed you guys do a lot ofyou talking about Asian-American culture, Asian American history. I know you guys had a thing on vote, rock the vote So me a little bit more about how guys approach music. As a social movement and teaching about education, teaching about culture and the racism and daily topics that are coming up these days.
Jason Chu: Yeah for me, it all comes down for me. I owe so much to hip hop culture, man growing up as a Chinese American kid. it was really a lot of black and Brown voices that I heard in hip hop because hip hop has always been about [00:02:00] this. what I’m saying? Like hip hop is so rooted in a social consciousnessnot even like your most death and your Kendrick Lamar’s and your J Cole’s, but you can’t even listen to like little baby or even like a young thug or a polo G or sweetie, without being aware.
like black community, black history, black culture. And so for me, growing up as a rapper, I was always like, Yeah. knew very early on that. I couldn’t just copy and paste that because our story’s so different. so it was really living a hip hop culture that pushed me to dig into our community and our shared history go, wow.
in the same way like they’ll reference a Fred Hampton or they’ll reference black Panthers or they’ll reference, Sojourner truth, Harriet Tubman. who is our Asian American figures. and that’s what made me discover yo, we actually have our own rich history of people like Fred Corey Matsu or Mabel pink wildly, the Tate family, that, that, that history just so often gets erased and marginalized.
Jason Chu: And so [00:03:00] being a member of the hip hop community actually really pushed me to become more of a member and more aware of our Asian American community and history. and it was just natural to put that in the bars, pretend the lyrics, put that in the vibe. because that’s what I learned from hip hop.
Alan Z: Yeah, super similar, just because, hip hop has encompassed, like the majority of my life. and the way that hip hop celebratesunapologetic blackness that led me to really embrace my own heritage, in, in a really weird way where it’s I just love our people so hard because I think I learned that from just obviously you just being around the black community, having mostly black friends and seeing how proud they are to be black.
It just, for meI felt that same pride towards us, which is why I’m so like, overly passionate about it and like ready to fight anybody that don’t like it because. I feel like the passiveness that we were taught, it has a breakthrough us in terms of being Asian American. just that, that idea of not just being Asian, but just having our own identity.
And actually I’ll actually want to credit Jason for helping me think [00:04:00] about this like years ago. So he had said something to me that really. framed how I saw how to create music using Asian-American ideas and themes. So we had this conversation, like, how do you talk about Asian-American stuff without it coming off as gimmicky or corny?
Alan Z: Because we’ve seen that have moved forward when an Asian rapper drops like an Asian bar and people like, Oh my God. cause it just sounds so Jason was like, There’s a way to, there’s gotta be a way to do it because if you don’t talk about it as an Asian-American man or woman, whoever you are, how that’s always going to be the elephant in the room.
You, you, as an Asian-American man doing something that is not for Asians coming into their space. If you don’t talk about that one thing they’re going to literally want to know about, then it’s kinda like 50 cent shot nine times and then him never talking about it. So I think once. I thought about that this was years ago, by the way, this is before, I became like super open and about how proud I am to be unapologetic, the Asian and stuff.
But yeah, that kind of changed my whole perspective. And then within these two years, I started putting way more like Asian-American type, like references and [00:05:00] materials in my music. And I noticed, even though my fan base, isn’t like primarily just Asian, like these star gravitating because he felt that kind of love I had for us.
it’s something that you can’t deny. It’s I listen to Kendrick, I’m dead Prez. I don’t relate. I’m not black, but I feel that passion, I feel that love. So I wanted to translate and transcribe that for us too. So whoever, if you’re not Asian, you can feel that type of sense of wanting to do right by you by your community.
Alan Z: So that’s how I’ve seen using music as a vehicle.
Masami: Yeah, I think that’s a. Point to have, cause who else is gonna be able to talk about it except for us. And as you sh men for us, particularly East Asian men, what do we want to talk about? What our perspectives are we coming from? And if we don’t talk about that, then who else will. So even using our talents as artists, in some ways to promote that culture and promote either history what are we going to do about it?
Learning new thoughts and ideas, what has the government done? In society done to our culture and how that plays out. So it’s very important thatsome of your work and the work of others you’re able to see [00:06:00] thatwhat I got into my, Asian identity was because I saw other activiststhey knew their history.
They knew their Emmett Till’s. people I never heard of, and they show me a picture like, here are all these people just in this city, I’m like, Why do you know all this? And I know nothing about the Asian American culture. So to know those names see what’s going on, be aware and really had toI that and learned from other cultures and see how they are activating themselves and how they use music and media and voices to that.
Alan Z: So I think what you’re doing here is a part of that same thing that we need that for ourselves is teaching. what got you in like the entertainment industry, Sure. yeah, My journey started in middle school, And honestly bro,I think I’ve told this story multiple times, but like the first person I clung on to in hip hop was Eminem. I was like, I’m still in fascia with the M and M that’s just I’m probably the biggest eminent fan you’ll ever find.
And I would challenge anyone on that. And so through him, I discovered like NAS pop, Rakim, big daddy Kane. Could you wrap and thenand indeed 12 drop they’re like they’re, their first album and I’m like, Oh my God, [00:07:00] was just like, it was just, cause D 12 had molded.
They’re like, they’re a posse after Wu Tang clan. So there’s this lineage of just great MCs and cliques. And so in middle school I had a couple of friends. That were into rap. And I was like, yo bro, let’s do a rap group, And then, so that’s when I literally was like at 12 years old, I’m like, you know what did it.
It’s cool. like I’m young, I’m a prodigy. it didn’t work out. But what happened after that was, I got ridiculed and outcasted by my school because people were just not receptive. It like my friend was black, so they accepted him. But me being Asian, they were just like, Oh, he’s Asian people were supposed to be nerds and playing violin.
I did both, but you know what I’m saying? So it was like a lot of pushback. So like this idea of like cultural probation cancel culture. It’s bro, I’ve been doing that since I’ve been had that since I was 12 years old, when people were like in my face telling me, you cannot, you’re not allowed to do this.
Alan Z: And so that only wanted to make me like, become a better MC like a better writer. So I would go under race, like ciphers and clubs and just like battle people in freestyle all the time. Finally, when I moved [00:08:00] to Atlanta was when I found my acceptance. And for me, it was like, I have so much to prove.
I would just, step up to different ciphers and I want like a battle rap tournament in my school. And that like literally made me like so popular around like campus. And I was like, wow, this is possible. And the more I dug into my confidence and who I was. And also molded, my singing and my rapping, the more like the industry started taking notice.
Alan Z: And so I think this whole journey for me was one about self-love and also about finding out how to be unapologetically you and miss all the adversity and all the nos. the kind of like the classic hero’s journey is how I describe like my music career path.
Jason Chu: Yeah for me. it’s so similar and I think that’s why Allen and I vibe so much is because, music gave so much strength as kids. know what I’m saying? and I think that, that’s what
Alan Z: But,
Jason Chu: keep trying to replicate,
Alan Z: you know,
Jason Chu: of the work that I do or that we’re doing with
Alan Z: it’s picked up.but for me it was, say, okay, there’s two moments in my childhood. One was I was talking to my boy Yusiff and it was just talking [00:09:00] about like pop music and whatever. We’re
Jason Chu: And I was
Alan Z: I was like, I just never really hear anything deep or anything dope.
Jason Chu: And he was like, yo, let me put you on us something. So he gave me three records. He gave me ASAP rocks, labor days. He gave me the Jay Zthe blueprint he gave me
What’s it called this record from Deltron 30, 30, All very experimental, very lyrical, very dope stuff. And I remember I would just ride the bus with those on repeat just those three albums.
And I was like, man, I never heard nothing like this on the radio. because I’d heard the big singles and you hear the choruses and it’s
Alan Z: Okay.
Jason Chu: but those are the first time that like my mind just had something to seize onto, And I was always very into literature, into language, always do good in English.
And but this was the first time that I heard something
Alan Z: Yeah,
Jason Chu: being like, yo, let me figure out what some white dude in the 15 hundreds was really trying to tell his audience. it was the first time that I heard young people of color. Not trying to appeal to a mainstream audience, not trying to mold
Alan Z: open
Jason Chu: to fit [00:10:00]
Alan Z: except
Jason Chu: but
Alan Z: like
Jason Chu: unapologetically them.
Alan Z: angel.
Jason Chu: the culture towards them than trying to shape themselves towards mainstream culture. And then the second moment, then a couple of years later I don’t know if you remember this is a while ago, but there was this viral, a song called, got rice. it was a flip of Tupac’s changes.
and some buddy on the internet, nobody knows who it was. they try to hone them down. They don’t know who this was, but somebody flipped Tupac’s changes into this song about like Asian, American pride, Asian pride, Easy and
Alan Z: Yeah.
Jason Chu: And and I remember me and my boys, how we shin and Alan chin I heard it on islandsCDR.
He had on a field trip and I was like, yo, this is wild. So we wanted to do it for a
show, junior yearand them dudes backed out. Alan was like, Oh, I don’t know, man. he was like, ah, my mom says I got a violin lesson that night when I was like, yo man, forget that. I’m gonna do it anyway.
So I’ll just roll down and Did
Alan Z: Did
Jason Chu: at
Alan Z: that
Jason Chu: year talent show. And nobody knew me as well. Artists, nobody knew me as a MC. just knew that was just at one of their [00:11:00] classmates. And when I came out and that went and I did it all, no backing vocals, just instrumental in the, I remember the schoolgot super loud, it went up for two, three minutes.
And I was like, man, everything we’re learning in class. all the history, all the literature, all the work I do in class. teachers give you a grade and nobody really cares, but this song is one like little viral song that I covered at our junior Thailand show had like my whole class, like going up.
that was when I was like, man, if we can take what we’re learning and studying and know, we can make it, put it out there in this form, that’s what can really touch the world. and since then, I’ve really just been pursuing same Of, translating things.
I know in my mind something that can resonate and get people on their feet.
Masami: Yeah, I think that’s a, valuable to have the education piece into it. If we’re not able to speak some truth, whether it be our truth and society or our personal truth, also the historical aspect and [00:12:00] learning from it.
Alan Z: But, what’s so crazy is like through hip hop is where I learned most of like life’s lessons and stuff, including history. there’s like this crazy song by Raz Kaz called nature of the threat where I learned about like the origins of Chris. Candy. And you know how people becamewho we are in terms of just like a seven minute masterpiece about like his dissertation on like human nature and history.
And then, people like, most Def toddler qualitydead pres. So I think me and Jason are definitely like motive from that cloth because it’s like, these are people that laid there, are before us that kind of showed how to do it because. being in PR impressionable people, like you want to hear something that’s still cool.
you don’t want to have to read it in a boring looking textbook. And I think that’s it’s all about the packaging at this point. It’s just, how do you brand it? So people will actually digest it.
Masami: Yeah, the black Panthers, just call it edutainment, Something that’s educational entertainment. Cause you’re going to want to come back and learn more. for me,Teaching history through film and television, the storytelling, because you’re seeing it, you’re learning it.
And you just get to sit down on your couch and just [00:13:00] some popcorn, like music,you can put it in the car and just listen to it and hear
Alan Z: you’reback
Masami: a lot
Alan Z: here because rhyme or it’ll just have a nice rhythm to it. You’re going to, you might be able to repeat it back to people and be like, Oh, I learned something there.
yeah, yeah, yeah,
Masami: out this month for heritage month
what led you to put this album
Alan Z: Yup. Yeah.obviously this for this month, why.
Jason Chu: So it really came out of convos that Ellen and I’ve been having. our whole careers I
Alan Z: Nope,
Jason Chu: it about a decade, since we were very young and especially over the last year, we just having a lot of conversations about, COVID-19 racism,
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: art,
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: was saying like, yo, we gotta do something and we gotta use our voices.
and I think for me, definitely it’s about, yeah, let’s
Alan Z: I guess,
Jason Chu: But I always want to push it one level deeper. You know what I’m saying? Instead of just Oh, like is bad and love is good. which is true, it’s like, where does it come from? You know what I’m saying? I feel like anytime that we can dive a little deeper, it’s super important.
so we had these combos about yo, how can we [00:14:00] really add to the convo? You know what I’m
Alan Z: No.
Jason Chu: how can we not just make the conversation louder, but how can we give people something in that conversation? That goes deeper or informs them a little more. and so Alan was like, yeah, man, like we should do something.
Let’s put something together. the convo really elevated and evolved from there. Alando you feel like we took it from those initial, speaking.
Alan Z: Yeah. I’m not gonna lie to you. I think last year when we thought about it, it was almost like this passion project that will never come through. You don’t like those like a Dr. Dre detox where it’s like, Oh, this is so cool on paper. So for this to actually become a thing is like such a dream come true for me, because I think one, I don’t think our community has ever had a project like this, and I know how much bless ones here is that me and Jason had put into this to, to make this happen.
And it’s just so magical. For not only us, but the people that are a part of this record to come together. I don’t want to give away some of the guests, but we have some like high-profile people and some like really important figures of like our community lending their voices from, East Asian and Southeast Asians to South Asians.
And I think [00:15:00] that to me shows how much our voices are needed. we’ve been told so much who we are, what we arewe’re not capable of feeling racism you guys did this year. All this fucking bullshit that like people like put on us to make us feel invalidated to Gaslight as to, as if what we go through is not real because we’re no real people, fucking idiot.
So I think it’s one of them things where with this album, it humanizes us and also humanizes our story because it’s us telling it, not some random dude, like using it for his political agenda. This is just our story, And the facts are there.
music being your medium for movement and teaching and education. expression. where do you see music as important to a movement? Something like this? This
Alan Z: this this
Masami: American movement right now is nothing new. We’ve definitely had in like the sixtiesthe the forties and the twenties.
But now we’re in 2021,
Alan Z: right
Masami: right? This is a whole Asian
Alan Z: here.
Masami: movement. We’re all coming together. We’re going out into the streets. That’s something
Alan Z: If
Masami: How do you see
Alan Z: you take the plane.
[00:16:00] this movement? Yeah. I would say it is refreshing for me becausegrowing up I was always allowed one with no one to back me up. even four years ago, when I would post on Facebook defending us for little things, like a rapper saying the C word. And I’m like, what the fuck? Or like Steve Harvey saying, I know things about Asian men and I literally called out Steve Harvey and I tagged him on my Facebook and Twitter. It was like, yo, you, if you want to go to warI always was the one to do it. And so now I feel not so alone because I was like, are we just not meant to. cause a stir, are we just not meant to rock the boat? And so I, as bittersweet as I am about just how we’re being treated, it’s it is beautiful to see that we’re like starting to feel so fed up that we’re like, fuck this.
Even if we’re taught to not like, speak back or whatever we’re doing it because we’re tired of seeing our elders our women, our kids being hurt and us being hurt. this is time. And so I think without even me, and Jason’s work that we’ve been putting in terms of raising awareness, I think it’s way more susceptible for people to hear now than maybe even five years ago, because Asian, like Asian rappers have been doing [00:17:00] like little things here and there about Hey, I want to educate you all about what we go through, but I don’t know ifDavid, if you’ve been in those combos, but it’s there’s people were just like, yo, don’t talk about that.
Masami: People don’t care. there’s always been that kind of pushback saying no one cares. So we’ve been ingrained to be like, you know what? Let’s just rap about, not our stuff. Let’s just remind people. We’re not just age, whatever, Asian, whatever. And now it’s like this. We can wear it on our sleeves without feeling like we’re going to be outcasts for it, Hell. Yeah. when I grew
Alan Z: Yep.
Masami: dad was always saying, if no one asks, if you’re Asian, don’t tell them like, don’t be Asian, if you don’t have to be. And so for a long time, I wasn’t, I didn’t recognize I was Asian until about years ago. And like now I’m wearing on my sleeve, I’m promoting Asians.
Like how can I help the Asian community? What can I do more for the Asian community? cause I think it’s really important to me, but like before it wasn’t like that, it was very much And actually it was almost the opposite. I had a lot of internalized racism. I didn’t want to be
Alan Z: Yeah.all I saw were stereotypes on the TV, so I thought that’s what everybody else was. for like me growing up in a white area, like there was no other agents to talk with. So it was very [00:18:00] so I feel that, but Jason, yourself
Jason Chu: for meI look back at Chrissy Jima and noble called me a Modo and how music has always been heartbeat of a movement.
a professor back in the day told me that, culture
Alan Z: culture
Jason Chu: is always accompanied by cultural products. And, there’s, no, this thing has changed in a culture, in a society doesn’t come accompanied with voices, that movement.
And that’s not saying that this is the most important part, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just like
Alan Z: Yes.community organizers, bodies in the streets, lobbyists people who are funding.
Jason Chu: grassroots movements,
Alan Z: Yeah,
Jason Chu: really
the agents of
But as the culture changes, people need. Things to feed their hearts. You know what I’m saying? And I think that’s again, going back to what music’s been for me, music
Alan Z: Yeah.
Jason Chu: taught me and motivated me and honestly, it just makes you feel cool. [00:19:00] like when you realize like this, isn’t just an idea that I had, or this wasn’t just something that someone taught me, but this is a movement that has its soundtrack has its, this whole culture, this alternative culture to what we’ve always had forced down our throats pause.
And like to me, I look at the sixties, and seventies with yellow Pearl with grain of sand. at it, in the nineties. hadthere, there were alternative rock acts. There was the mountain brothers, one of our mentors chops
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: on face value.
they were the first Asian Americanhop group signed to a label. then, you even look into the two thousands. whether it’s spoken word poetry, like
Alan Z: I felt
Jason Chu: and both SIA and Dante Bosco and bow fi and then you look even to right now, there’s so many voices like
Alan Z: like
Jason Chu: Ibarra and chow main, all good friends of ours who are really continuing to
Alan Z: to sample track
Jason Chu: And
I’m just glad to be a part of that legacy [00:20:00] and a part of this generation. That’s doing it now. hopefully what we do lays down something so that in 20, 30 years, they referenced back to face value. The way that we reference back to yellow
Alan Z: Yep.and the work that they were doing in the past.
be a part of that legacy. Another layer of that foundation is what I’m super excited about.
Masami: I definitely feel like that’s going to be. That’s gonna be
Alan Z: Yeah.to be honest, I haven’t heard a lot of these
Masami: before. I think that’s something else to hear, learn more about and get more out there into the world. Is all these famous names who have been out there for a long time, even grain of sand.
Like I know that, but I know a lot of people will just won’t. Yeah, but there’s so many people who’ve, you’ve gotten in the past who just need to be
Alan Z: Yes, I think a part of it is like the algorithm. Can’t just be almost like put
Masami: Asian SEO. we don’t put your names and you don’t know like the titles and
Alan Z: You searched Asian and like anime and K-pop pops out. You know what I’m saying? Like you got a battle, like the mainstream
Masami: Yeah. what does
Jason Chu: If
Alan Z: way. worse way Worse Yeah. Yeah.
if you put if you put the
Alan Z: Correct.
filters on and you can’t search Asian, but you can search [00:21:00] Oriental. It’s It’s racist either way. So that’s disappointing. Sorry.
Masami: yeah. there’s definitely gotta be I don’t know if it’s coming from you guys or
Alan Z: Yep,
Masami: but like some sort of database of Asian artists throughout the decades. Cause I want to be able to see and listen to where their albums and records at, because those would be so hot and fire right now.
Alan Z: absolutely.
Jason Chu: what our friend Richie does over at track to this T R a K T I V I S T. He’s basically the of Asian American music. I remember during the Grammys, he put out this series on previous Asian American Grammy winners, and so
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: don’t know
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: beyond BTS
Alan Z: Nope.I don’t know, Hayley Kiyoko, or whoever’s doing it now.
Jason Chu: he was like, yo, and
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: this was the first Filipino artists to win and all this. again, so proud to be part of this
Alan Z: Yeah.
Jason Chu: that’s rediscovering and reclaiming and continuing to foreground ancestors. my ancestors, I don’t mean Oh, blood Relic, like back then, my family was in Asia.
Alan Z: What Asian American
Jason Chu: of
Alan Z: system
Jason Chu: who were struggling and fighting to [00:22:00] the exact same social layers
Alan Z: like?
Jason Chu: filters and bamboo ceilings that we are still today.
Alan Z: Yep.
Alan Z: Yep.
Masami: a good point to bring up too, because think of our ancestors where our Homeland countries But to see
Alan Z: right.
Masami: didn’t recognize our Asian American ancestors who paved ways for our, this society that we live in here in this country. some to think about and always bring
Alan Z: Great.
Masami: but I do want to knowfrom your ethnic backgrounds, where do you, how do you identify
Alan Z: Andrew,
Masami: how do you.
Alan Z: Do you
Masami: that into your music and what you, and how are you bringing that in.
I think it’s pretty clear that, you know what, we’re definitely really proud of identities, as Asian-Americans, and that we are, driving that point home, in, in our music. But I think the importance is to make sure that the listener knows that we’re speaking from not like an overall arching, like Asian experience, but the Asian American experience.
Alan Z: And this is another thing that I remember Jason saying last year when we had a panel together, And it that’s something that I was like, okay, this puts, this put so much perspective into what people don’t [00:23:00] understand, especially in the music industry is especially me and my background in terms of like how I was like, put into the system, like the major label system, when I was younger into mainstream type of machines that like I was around and stuff like that.
It was like either they try to mold you as like a like a black artist or white artists, or do you try to orient realize you and basically package you so that you look good for. What do you think Korea or China likes. But it’s no one at that time would talk about what’s an Asian American.
Alan Z: What about the, the 5% that make up this nation right here that can speak for this nation, Or speak, sorry, speak up for this nation. And so I think that’s, what’s the distinction that, I think me personally, I want to make is yo, I’m obviously I’m more than just an Asian American.
that’s not all talk about, but as far as what I stand for is I’m always going to have that. I’m always going to rep that because I can’t change that. And if I can’t change that, then that’s going to be me to the fullest. I think To dispel that perpetual foreigner scent, like syndrome is something that’s really important to me.
Alan Z: And to always call out people that I say stupid shit, like, where are you from? Where are you really from? Hey, I can say Niihau in your language. Why? Because they fucking in yours. [00:24:00] Or or Hey, I’ve been to Japan. Do you have any recommendations for when I go to Thailand?
it’s stupid fucking shit that people will say that he think, or Oh, like an Asian girl that, or like a girl that hits on you is Oh, I love Asians. I used to show all the time. just like all these Oriental lies, Things that people would say that they think is okay. I think we need to always check that because if we don’t, they’re going to go around spreading that to any person and think that is okay.
Jason Chu: And people only learn. It’s if you’re a little kid and your mom tells you, Hey, don’t touch the stove and you don’t listen. You have to feel that, that burn to know not to do it. I thinkfor me Asian American, like I, so I’m Chinese American like Island, for me, I definitely consciously identify as Asian American for one thing, my parents, my dad is from Thailand and mom’s from my mom’s from Malaysia. So already we have this diasporic identity that involves displacement that involves, my, my grandfather left China.
Oh, as a journalist
1949. right before, communist revolution. And so we already have this sort of intermingled Southeast Asian, [00:25:00] Chinesefamily heritage. for me, really the reason to identify as Asian American is because I believe in this pan-ethnic Asian-American unity movement that was founded in 68.
by MOG and UGE Ciocca these early, ancestors of the current pan ethnic Asian America. And I remember I had a long combo, one time in Philly with my
Alan Z: Fuck it.
Jason Chu: Kevin. when, a lot of people talk
Alan Z: Fuck.Oh,
Jason Chu: actually racist Columbus all in together as Asian Americans, like we’re
Alan Z: fuck her.
Jason Chu: And I was like breaking it down to him. Why I identify as Asian American. it’s not because I’m not
Alan Z: Fuck
Jason Chu: It’s not because I’m generically Asian, it’s because I want to choose to be part of, this bigger
Alan Z: stroke.I want to
shoot.like a conscious choice to say, Hey, I’m
Jason Chu: with Laos and
Alan Z: and
Jason Chu: and men and Burmese and, come onand South Asians.
And this is all part of the people that are affected by racism. This is
Alan Z: so
Jason Chu: of the people that we’re going to come [00:26:00] together and fight this stuff
and that’s why for me, I very much have this like racial consciousness. that’s taught me a lot, being in solidarity with Pacific Islanders has taught me a lot about
Alan Z: up there.
Jason Chu: and the
and colonialism and the way that, my friend,
Alan Z: Caribbean, talks about.
the Pacific has served as a military buffer on both sides. America used the Pacific as a hedge against Asia and vice
Alan Z: vice versa and learning that, I think
King said it
Jason Chu: well when he talks about the great world house, he
Alan Z: she right.
Jason Chu: all a beloved community together.
got to take on each other’s burdens. And for me, a pan-ethnic
Alan Z: I was just waiting to take
Jason Chu: at least
Alan Z: one step towards
Jason Chu: To remind
Alan Z: myself my identity, isn’t just what I was born with, but
but it’s all the stuff
Jason Chu: the burdens and the
Alan Z: and
Jason Chu: brotherhood and sisterhood that we
Alan Z: you take them.
Jason Chu: life.
Alan Z: And I also would add on for our own survival, it’s not good to be tribalistic and this time, because if you go, Oh, no, [00:27:00] I’m Korean, I’m Filipino. Don’t attack me. I’m not Chinese. okay, they’re still going to fucking punch you in the face.
it doesn’t matter. It’s you have to understand that where we stand, if Chinese people or Japanese people, any type of Asian is the enemy, we’re all the enemy. And so it’s you have to understand how A racist person views us, it’s the same, this as just the Oriental lens.
Alan Z: Right? And it’s if you can’t recognize that and you’re so prideful about your nationality, great. Don’t be surprised if you get attacked for it. And then they tell you to go back to China or Japan, Because it’s just one of them, things that while we can operate in our own, traditional cultures in terms of our nationalities, it’s something that we can share together.
Through, Pan-Asian American identity. It’s not something you have to just, claim, but it’s something it’s there. It’s there for you to know that we got your back. I got your back. Whether you’re Filipino, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnamese all, Indian, it don’t matter. You’re one of me and I’m one of you.
Masami: So that’s how I see like community building within just the greater Asian, Yeah.
Alan Z: Yeah.
Masami: with you. I think
Alan Z: Yeah.
Masami: whole thing is that if we’re not working together, [00:28:00] then we’re working separately.
Alan Z: I
Alan Z: know
Masami: I was Asian,
Alan Z: need
Masami: recognize myself
Alan Z: the caffeine.
Masami: American. so I don’t get it.
with me as a sibling of mine and to be able to
Alan Z: you got
Masami: one of each other.
Alan Z: anI keep hearing these conversations on
Masami: South Asians, aren’t Asian. I’m like, are you seriously saying that this
is something that, right
think one of your album songs, it’s like
Alan Z: there.
Masami: cousins, the very least they’re cousins. that we’re still out there.
and we have to stick up for one another.
Alan Z: And I don’t,
Masami: definitely classify myself or identify as Asian American because, being fifth generation, Japanese American,
Alan Z: like
Masami: the culture is
Alan Z: fair,
Masami: out family. my dad’s fully assimilated. I’m the only one who’s bringing some of that culture back in because my grandmother is still alive.
I ask her questions and up with the history she was in the camps.
Alan Z: sorry.
Masami: I want to
Alan Z: sure that Legacy lives on and what those stories of what her great grandchildren are going to
Masami: in the stories that they get to tell, because those are the really important we have, but
Alan Z: that’s a quote.
Masami: Asian American being Asian [00:29:00] American, we are, we’ve all experienced this the hatred in this country in different ways.
And to also know those histories is also part of my history. As an Asian American
Alan Z: Yeah, it still works.
Masami: what the Chinese railroads any of the refugee camps in Minnesota, or
Alan Z: just that.
Masami: refugees coming into the Southmaking business for themselves. So proud to be Asian-American and buildingWhether it be donut shops, nail salons of farming land, we’re all here together.
Cause we all came generally and came for one thing or another very similarly. I think it’s important that we come together as Asian-Americans and stick up for one another. And
and also learn each other’s histories. think
Alan Z: that’s it.
Masami: valuable too, because I think
Alan Z: That’s good though.
Masami: what’sgreat about America and being the melting pot of Asian-American
Alan Z: is that it?
Masami: the Asian countries, we’re all separated by the country and the nationality.
We don’t really, we are very separated in those ways, but
Alan Z: Yep.
Masami: we’re going to
Alan Z: Yep, yep,
Masami: we’re living
Alan Z: yep.
Masami: in this non homogenous. [00:30:00] This era, to learn from
Alan Z: Nope,
Masami: learn different languages, see what other people are doing, and then fusion, fusion foods, delicious. still learning Korean.
I’m now living in K-Town. So I’m trying to get better at Korean and learn Korean food. yeah, like doing learning different stuff. I think it’s really important that we’re cross-culturally you cross cultural unity. Very important for me. So I’m coming up on these last couple of questions. who are some of your heroes and sheroes from history that you’d want people to learn about?
I think that’s really important. Jason, you wanna go first?
Jason Chu: I mean for me, man, there’s too many ones. I
Alan Z: up.
Jason Chu: talking about our Hazel ying Lee, who was a Chinese American woman from Portland. And like the 1930s, 1940s she just learned how to fly a plane from the Chinese American flying club of Portland and or the aviation club. And then when world war II broke out and Imperial, Japan was invading China, went over to China and flew against Imperial, Japan.
then she came back to the States she flew for the women’s air force service [00:31:00] pilots. And
and then She died, actually, I think in Montana in a plane crash. And that’s just an amazing Asian-American story. Hazel yang li and then,
Alan Z: Nope.
Jason Chu: about for me, people
Alan Z: Keep it pretty quick.who defied the the illegal incarceration of Japanese Americans and, he went on the
they had to, the feds came and took him in
Alan Z: Nope,
Jason Chu: then, locked him up
Alan Z: Nope,he spent a lot
Nope, world war incarcerated for defying, unjust American
Jason Chu: And then he
Alan Z: got it.
Jason Chu: and served as a community organizer for reparations for the Japanese American community. And then, later in his life as South Asians came under attack, he was very loud and vocal that racism.
Jason Chu: at people
Alan Z: like
Jason Chu: I also got to shout out chops. you know, one third of the legendary mountain brothers, like I said, first Asian-American rap group to be signed to a label. one of our big OGs, big homies who really puts us on all out of game. what I always say just is, if there’s anything you’re looking for in American history, Asians have been there and we’ve been doing it.
it’s just about [00:32:00] finding those voices and examples. No.
Alan Z: Yeah, I got it. I got a few as well. let’s just say that obviously. as my hero, M and M is my hero. You guys know that, so we don’t need it. I’m good. Otherwise I’ll talk for an hour about M and M. We don’t need that. I’d say for me, like a lot of it is rooted in entertainment, just because like I’m super passionate about acting in and music.
So off the top of my brain, I would say one obvious as Bruce Lee, just, I feel like he was one of the most like. Legendary like God’s here. People is just it’s almost like mythical, how cool. And just perfectly was as a, just as an entity, as a human being. So that’s one, I would say huge influence because I feel like one, he’s not talked about enough, but two, he showed us how possible it was for us to like crossover.
Alan Z: Without compromising who he was. And he did at a time where there was so much anti-Asian sentiment. And in fact, there were so much that when he got too popular, they just pretty much almost blacklisted him. And he was relegated to small villainous roles or had to move. And I think he eventually moved to Japan. Kenny styles, also a hero of mine [00:33:00] because he did what a lot of people. did not expect for an Asian man to do. And I’ve had conversations with him too. And he was the first person to tell me when I told him to his face that, he was my hero. He was like, yo, be your own hero.
And so that’s what he instilled in me is I would say as a personal hero of mine, even though he told me not to see him as hero, that was something that he instilled in me. and I would say a fresh kid ice. He was the half black, half Asian American member of two live crew. And he was also the first.
person, industry is actually believe in me. So when I was younger, like he had found my SoundCloud and then he just, he messaged me on there and he called me and was like, yo, let’s have a talk. And he told me, he was like, I see what you’re doing is I would love to help out.
Alan Z: And he told me about his history. He was like, two live crew. He put on Flo rider, not a lot of people didn’t know that he’s a, I can use a, yo I could do the same for you. Just show me what you got. And unfortunately he passed, in 2017. nothing really came to surface, but I’ve always remembered.
How much has belief in me meant to me, but also the fact that like he did something that like, he didn’t have to do mind. You tigers have Asian, that motherfuckers does not talk about being an Asian, [00:34:00] fresh kid. Ice was only half. And he like, he had albums like, free yeah, no albums, but records like freaky Chineselike Chinese men records, like just really representing for his Asian side.
So I think it just showed how powerful that can be. Like you being half Asian and still wanting to rep your Asian side at a time when it wasn’t cool to be Asian. Come on. so people like that, they’re so proud to be themselves and just speak for people that may not have the voices. Those are people that I really relate to.
Masami: Yeah. Being
Alan Z: Yep.
Masami: to be Asian feels like it’s a, almost a new thing, like a new acceptance, is really cool because I think it wasn’t like that for a long time, now it’s
yeah, why wouldn’t we want to be us? pretty cool. Yeah, I think it’s
Alan Z: That’s
Masami: great that we’re seeing
Alan Z: great.
Masami: researchers have things.
And then again, like you said tons of historical figures throughout the years and in any
Alan Z: That’s
Masami: that have, and there’s a lot of work that we’re trying to teach here. And I strong Asian lean is like Asian Hollywood history. Just the way higher Kawa was the sex icon,
Alan Z: excellent.
Masami: about Jayden Wong.
Alan Z: Yeah. Yeah.
Masami: Wong was a burlesque famous [00:35:00] burlesque dancer for many years and just
Alan Z: It.
Masami: to kind lifetime achievement at Warren. we don’t hear these names
Alan Z: Yeah.
Masami: there’s just so much to learn in for a hundred years of history that we’re just lost.
Alan Z: yeah.
Masami: And as we’re wrapping up here, I just, we have a closing fire question,what are you reading or watching a film, TV or books? recommendations?
Alan Z: So I just finished DMX is book like I’ve had it for a long time and I skimmed through it when I was younger, but you’re not, this is like right when he was getting sick, I was I had this kind of urge to read his autobiography. I read that I’m in the middle of reading, be water, my friend.
I think that’s what it’s called, but it’s Shannon Lee’s book. that she wrote about Bruce Lee’s philosophy. as far as like, when I’m watchingobviously I’m watching anime, so right now I’m watching psychopaths. and I’m always digging into movies just cause I’m super passionate about like that.
So usually like action movies or like comedy movies, like I’m going say that I’m into criminal minds. I’m like near the end of that. So yeah, a lot of
Masami: Jason. just first season, just finished and visible by Robert Kirkman. The same creator is walking dead. it’s only hinted at, in the comics, but in the seriesthe lead Mark is played by [00:36:00] Steven Yeun, this, the animated series. So the voice actor is Steven Yeun and his mom’s played by Sandra Oh, diverse cast.
Jason Chu: And that, that one’s great. And just finished Falcon and winter soldier, thought was really great. And, just really diving into the captain American myth Oaks. yeah, so I’ve been watching a lot of superhero stove recently actually.
Masami: And is there an a I just finished definitely just finished the invincible. then I also recommendthe wave, the house husband, Netflix,
Jason Chu: Our buddies, the lead voice actor on that I’m braced for a motto is is originating he, the voice actor for the lead on that. Yeah.
Masami: I was new man. And it’s so good. and then last question what do you want to uplift is there somebody else that you’re like, this person
Alan Z: shut up.
Masami: out enough and they’re coming up and, I want to just
Alan Z: Shut up.
Masami: them out a bit.
if there was a personI think we should shout outthe first Asian, the first player in the NBA was an Asian-American man.
Alan Z: Butthat dude, and also the first NHL player that was of color is also Asian, I think Larry Kwan or something.
So I feel like we, I would love [00:37:00] to see movies made about them one day. but I would say as a whole, I would love to pay homage to like our elders man, cause they’ve been going through hell and we don’t like, I don’t think people realize how much our elders have done for us.
Alan Z: Like not only just people are related to, but just in general, just, the hell they’ve been through just being in America. So I just want, I want to, uplift them, and see how well we’ll ways we can do to make them feel safer and to protect them, I co-sign all of that.
Jason Chu: thanks to everybody who has come before and paved the way, shout out also artists like lyrics, bornyeah,
Alan Z: that was great.Beau SIA, bow fi. Ariana
That’s good.Novaco Miyamoto, Krissy, Jima it’s so many of these people and yeah, if there’s one thing I think, a lot of people are aware of some of what’s popping right now.
Jason Chu: realize if you all are listening, please realize that, this hasn’t started in the last 10 years. our community’s been doing this for 170 years. just so many of those names are erased by history and we just have to keep rebuilding.
but it’s so important for us not to think Oh, we’re the [00:38:00] first or where
The was never
Alan Z: Yep.
Jason Chu: And now we’re finally doing it. cause that just cause, in 20 years I don’t want somebody to be like, yo, nobody was ever spitting for Asian Americans. God
God after all this silence,
so in the
Alan Z: Yep.
Jason Chu: that we don’t want that happening to
Alan Z: Yep,
Jason Chu: not, we don’t want to do
Alan Z: yep,so y’all, go to track activists, research the ones that have come before and put down this laid down the
Jason Chu: for everything that we do now.
before we go tell us about the album, the dropping what’s the title and where can we find it?
Alan Z: Yep.
Jason Chu: The album is out now. It
Alan Z: Yep.
Jason Chu: May 14th.
A whole 15 tracks on Asian-American history is
Alan Z: sir.
Jason Chu: Please stream it, download it, take a list and let us know what you think.
Alan Z: Yeah. So here’s some perks of why you need to listen. So we got a bunch of dope features. We got Dante Bosco, Ronnie Chang, Asia, Raphael, Ruby Ibarra, challenging Zeta Zang, B Vang, Michelle Myers from yellow rage.
This is one of those [00:39:00] albums that like, there’s, I don’t think we miss. we, we made sure like everyone was like, gonna be like, Represented well, so yeah, I really recommend this for everybody.
Yeah. Thanks. Thank you for putting together as Spotify playlist, man, I like looked at it over when she tagged us. I was like you really put, thought into it. you have some of my favorite stuff on there. you had some gems from like the past, like decipher that’s a homie of ours, Danny Chung, no angry Asian man.
you had a lot of gems on there.
Masami: Yeah. Yeah. That’s one of my favorite playlist and I
thank you both for coming onto the podcast and sharing experiences, sharing about the album, talking about its history. And I think this heritage month is really really important for a lot of us.
Masami: So thanks for what you’re doing. And can’t wait to hear more and see quality as his work. you guys so much