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Retro-Panel: Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community

PAAFF is proud to present this retrospective livestream of “Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community” a panel that was recorded by PhillyCAM at our 2014 annual festival. This panel was curated and moderated by Vijay Mohan, a vital member of PAAFF’s organizational history. This retrospective presentation is dedicated to Vijay (1988-2015).

Below is the copy from our 2014 program book:

“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

On Tuesday, November 18th,2014 PAAFF Presents: Reflections on the Evolution of Asian Cultural Influences in the Hip Hop Community. 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.

This panel is in dedication 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 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.

Dates & Times


November 6, 2020
5:00 pm