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Jin's "Learn Chinese" Video

Jin, the Asian rapper who landed a record deal with Ruff Ryders while becoming a battle champion on 106th and Park just dropped a new video for his single "Learn Chinese." Oliver Wang posted his thoughts about the video on his weblog. And so begins the culture critiques that will mark Jin's career more than his musical talent.

Oliver aka O-Dub doesn't mention whether the song is any good or not. "I do find the video fascinating," is the most we get. The rest is a break down of the socio-racial implications of what Jin chose to write and display in his first ever video. Yikes. I hope the kid has a degree in something because he's gonna need some learnin just to read his own album reviews!

Here's a part of O-Dub's post that I find kinda funny:

"That said, the video for "Learn Chinese" is rife with problems. One of the biggest and most obvious is Jin's gender politics - women figure in this video like they figure in most rap videos: sex objects desired for nothing more than their bodies."
Rife with problems? When did sexy women in a club, happy-happy video become a problem? I think O-Dub, as an Asain hip-hopper himself is asking too much from the young kid.

But I understand what's up. When Jin's album drops he'll become the resident hip-hop pundit that will represent the voice of all Asian rap fans out there. Who needs a quote from Oliver Wang or Jeff Chang when you got a Ruff Ryder ready to speak? I'm not saying O-Dub is jealous, but I certainly understand if he's scared. I'm a conservative leaning Black man who has to deal with the stupid things Stanley Crouch writes three times a week. Trust me, I understand.

So even though O-Dub says Jin's video is "disappointing and generic" I think he needs to watch out for the same traps in his own reviews. (And I like his weblog, so don't beast.)

December 18, 2003 in Commentary | Link Me | Related Searches | Related Music

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Well, since you weren't provided with a review of the song, I'll give you one: it sucks. It's not all bad, but the hook is absolutely terrible. Jin also sounds like a little kid for some reason. I mean, seriously, Got Rice is better than that song (and Got Rice sucks as well).

This is an overgeneralization, but can't Asian rappers rap about anything besides being Asian? I'm sure there are a lot more to these people than being Asian, but I can't see it in their lyrics. (I may not be looking hard enough, though)

Posted by: Me at Dec 18, 2003 2:37:13 PM

Hmm... I can't say whether I agree with Oliver or not, but I'll have to go read his entire post b4 I fully weigh in. But I understand where he's coming from. You see, as a black woman, and as Joan Morgan once said in her Chickenhead book, I got a love/hate affair with hip-hop. I live this duality when it comes to hip-hop music. The lyrics are often not women friendly. The videos are often not women friendly. And these things do a lot toward the degradation of the black female identity in a popular cultural context, as well as in a transglobal commodified world. Hip-hop has come to represent America on so many levels. So like O-Dub may feel he's got to step up and have Jin be accountable, b/c he's going to be the poster boy for Asian rappers, I often feel when I want to say how dope someone's lyrics are, but can't leave out the way women are portrayed.

Perhaps I'm being too serious too. But when these artists are put up in a global view - the perceptions are going to be cast from their vantage point.

On another note, not every kid who listens to hip-hop music, has the discerning nature to fully dissect these lyrics. Case and point, when I took my niece to B2K tour, all the little girls where most loudly singing all the songs that talked about women only as sex objects. It was scary to me.

I don't know that O-Dub is here to educate the children, but he is definitely here to educate on some level, from what I know, he's a phd candidate. Again, b4 I keep going I need to go read his post in entirety.

But at the same time, I hope you think about some of the things I said here. And I hope I made some damn sense, cuz I'm mad sleepy.

Posted by: lynne at Dec 23, 2003 12:21:28 AM

I have both seen the video and read O-Dub's article. First of all, if you replaced all the Asian people in the video with African-Americans... you wouldn't notice a thing. It is a typical rap video: glamorous people looking good in front of the camera.

I think Oliver is overanalyzing the video. I think the most notable thing about the song is not the video, but the lyrical theme which is basically a shout out to Chinese people and asians in general. He's basically saying: "yo... were here... if you really wanna be down... learn chinese."

for me, the big problem is not jin. the problem is that people still see non-blacks as a novelty in rap music, yet the vast majority of the hip hop scene is very diverse and white, latino, and asian artists have been playing a HUGE role in the development of the genre since the late 1980s.

Another thing -- and let's be honest here -- Jin is only marginally talented as a rapper. He's not bad, but he's no Eminem. And yet his debut in March will probably go gold within the first month. I get more traffic on my website for Jin than anything else. I would say anywhere from 100 to 150 people per day come to my jin page. don't believe me?...


this is a clear example of niche marketing.

Posted by: eric at Dec 25, 2003 7:46:04 PM

Jesus, is it such a crime to spend some time, talking about a video? It's not like I'm writing my dissertation about it.

Not yet at least. ;)

But seriously though, it's just not often that one gets the opportunity to talk about how Asian Americans represent themselves in hip-hop since there's damn near none of us in the most visible sectors (i.e. as rappers who make videos). I'm not mad at Jin or his video but I do think it's interesting given that it's groundbreaking whether it wants to be or not.


Posted by: Oliver Wang at Jan 6, 2004 6:06:22 PM

dang i thought it was a good video and jin ...whao what a hottie...eheh...i think its cool of what hes doing... the video is cute and funnie..!!

Posted by: lily vang at Jan 13, 2004 9:31:23 AM

I think Jin is pretty tyte, he is like the best rapper, is good that there is a chinese rapper because there is not much chinese rapper around no more so is pretty cool. I love Jin!

Posted by: Zixin at Jan 13, 2004 3:18:22 PM