Featuring Far East Movement’s Kev Nish and James Roh, the 10th episode of RADII’s podcast China From All Angles unpacks the complex realities of being Asian musicians in the global arena.
“When we first had our headline show, the bouncers didn’t even think we were on the bill,” spill the duo in a conversation with host Wes Chen.
With global hits such as ‘Like a G6,’ the Los Angeles-based hip hop and electronic music group became the first Asian-American group to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2010.
After enjoying mainstream success and going on international tours, the musicians expanded into artist management with Transparent Arts, which aims to take “the best of American and Asian entertainment business” to the global stage, sign Asian talent, and bridge cultures through music.
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Nish and Roh, two Asian Americans who grew up in L.A., discuss being deeply impacted by their tours in Asia: “It was so eye-opening being there with people who look like us. There was a sense of pride. Let’s try to explore that with our music. We were so L.A.-centric, so we started collaborating with more Asian artists.”
A still from Far East Movement’s music video for ‘Like a G6.’ Screengrab via YouTube
Fans might not know it, but Far East Movement started making hip hop music in a garage and grabbing the mic in spaces dedicated to the conscious rap genre. Years later, they steered towards pop when they realized their Asian identity didn’t resonate with the general public.
However, the past decade has seen massive changes in the music and entertainment landscape. Latin and Asian music — K-pop in particular — are on the rise.
“Technology and the internet acted as equalizers,” explain the Far East Movement members. “Hip hop became mainstream in the U.S., and people started looking for that kind of glossy pop elsewhere.”
Get more of their insights on Asian and Asian-American music in this episode of China From All Angles.
‘China From All Angles’ is brought to you by East-West Bank, the premier financial bridge between the U.S. and China. Listen to the new podcast’s first episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, SoundCloud, and 小宇宙.
Cover image designed by Haedi Yue
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