On Tuesday, November 18th, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) presents Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community featuring Jeff Chang, DJ Rekha, Skeme Richards, and Chops, Tuesday, November 18 at 1:30pm at The Montgomery Auditorium in the Free Library of Philadelphia (1901 Vine Street). The discussion will cover the influence of Asian cinema, culture and ethos on hip hop, the roots of hip hop from Black culture, it's cross over to other groups of color and it's existing racial divide between those communities, the exoticization of (Asian) women, and transcending the notions of a 'model minority'. The individuals brought together will illuminate that hip hop is a culture that continues to articulate the joy in existence but also a desire for a different world. The panel will be streamed LIVE through PhillyCAM and can be viewed at phillycam.org/livestream.
PAAFF will also present, The Jump Off, a celebration of the festival at Silk City (N 5th St at Spring Garden St) featuring DJ Rekha, Skeme Richards, Lushlife (DJ Set).
About the panel:
“Hip-hop, like any black American form as long as it stays true to “assassin’s heart making for the killer’s art,” will be innovative and profound but hip-hop like “jazz” has become very assimilated. Its expressions, visual, cultural style, musical have been appropriated. They are used to see McDonalds hamburgers, Coca Cola and Pepsi. So that has deradicalized, denatured, deracinated, depoliticized what had the potential to be a revolutionary expression. It had the potential.” - Fred Ho in an interview with Nora Ritchie
This panel is dedicated to the late Fred Ho (1957-2014).
CHOPS: CHOPS spent much of his youth glued to the family stereo. When a friend brought a drum machine to school, it was love at first button press - he borrowed it for months. CHOPS picked up other instruments, taking music classes whenever possible. Making songs and recordings became a lifelong obsession. Over time, he got his own equipment, and soaked up the grooves from classic rap and soul records. “Other kids got video games and sneakers, I'd save up for microphones and speakers.” CHOPS remembers. Family never stayed in one place very long, but CHOPS landed in Philadelphia and connected with local artists - including two emcees who made him get on the mic, as well as behind the boards. Their group Mountain Brothers earned a global reputation, releasing their work independently to critical acclaim.
DJ Rekha: “Mixing hip-hop beats with the sounds of her heritage, [DJ Rekha made] a uniquely American sound that may not have been heard in the White House before.” says US President Barrack Obama. DJ Rekha’s genre-defying music makes people dance anywhere and everywhere, whether it’s at the White House, in front of thousands at IIT Madras, or at a music festival in a remote forest. This British-born, New York-based DJ established iconic club nights in the Big Apple, including Basement Bhangra, Bollywood Disco and Beat Bazaar, which are hailed by Newsweek as “exhilarating blowouts.” From retro classics to current dancefloor bangers, her ability to mix-- bhangra, hip-hop, dancehall, Bollywood, global and electronic beats — is unparalleled.
Jeff Chang: Jeff Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, garnered many honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. His new book, Who We Be: The Colorization of America, will be released on St. Martin’s Press in October 2014. He is currently at work on two other book projects: Youth (Picador Big Ideas/Small Books series), and a biography of Bruce Lee (Little, Brown). Born of Chinese and Native Hawaiian ancestry, Jeff was raised in Hawai’i where he attended ‘Iolani School. He lives in California. He is a big fan of Japanese curry and poi, but not at the same time
Skeme Richards: When you think of Philadelphia’s rich history of musical contributions, you automatically notice that it is also a city known for birthing some of the greatest internationally known DJ’s who are masters of their art. One such person who has deep roots and connections to the City of Brotherly Love is Skeme Richards. No matter the genre, Skeme Richards fits the bill with his delivery, vast musical knowledge and understanding of what it takes to rock a party by reading the crowd properly and reacting accordingly. From Philly to Los Angeles, Seoul Korea to Tokyo, London to Switzerland, Skeme Richards is known for blessing the people with his eclectic mix of musical goodness, where no ear or dance floor goes unsatisfied.
More about Fred Ho: Fred Ho was born Fred Wei-han Houn on August 10th, 1957 in Palo-Alto California. His work as a saxophonist, composer, playwright and as asocial activist were primarily focused on uplifting parallels in Black and Asian culture. A self proclaimed 'evolutionary matriarchal socialist and aspiring Luddite', Ho was a self-starter and taught himself the baritone sax at age 14. Always outside of the mainstream spectrum, he joined the Nation of Islam and I Wor Kuen in his 20s. His dedication to self-reliant knowledge earned him a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Harvard University in 1979. His music often blended forms of Chinese folk traditions and jazz (a term he considered a racial slur). This led him to form the Afro Asian Music Ensemble. In his book 'Legacy to Liberation:Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America' (2000; AK Press), he writes "Revolutionary art must ... inspire a spirit of defiance, or class and national pride to resist domination and backward ideology. Revolutionary art must energize and humanize; not pacify, confuse and desensitize...". Fred Ho passed away in Brooklyn in April 12th, 2014 of cancer. Mr. Ho would have been a great contributor to this year's panel. Our thoughts will be with him and his life's work.