About Jin “Learn Chinese”

About Jin “Learn Chinese”

Out of 2003 came the emergence of Asian rap star “Jin” with social cultural hit “Learn Chinese”. It appeared as refreshing insight into the music subculture of Asian American and attempted to bring a whole new perspective to rap music. It was a shout out at a rapidly growing popular trend by young Asians to get on the rap music money train and express themselves about their social concerns. One of those social concerns is how they are perceived by Americans. Much of the lyrics they sing contain a sort of animosity for racial stereotyping of their culture. Rap music has typically been reserved for the African American culture with a few white rap icons, like Eminem, bursting out into scene sparingly. Thanks to Jin, a message was developed but met with much controversy from Asians themselves. Most agreed the music including some background lyrics in Cantonese was little to be desired, and overall, was not what they would sing, but agreed in was an intriguing relief for his command of the English language. Many were not impressed, and yet some understood and appreciated his attempt at breaking social stereotyping of Asians in American culture.

Jin was discovered after a freestyle competition landed him into the arms of Ruff Ryder records where he was promptly signed. Since then, he has fused his career tight into the business of rapping. He did well in aggressively voicing his pride of “being a chinaman” in his lyrics, while dismissing the need for him to fall into the stereotype of Asian Americans by saying “your gonna learn Chinese”.

Maybe he had a point about us learning Chinese. Increasingly, we are witnessing the economy merge into universal highway where interactions with each other means we are gonna have to learn Chinese. Chinese is used all thorough out Asia, and rapidly being used in the western world. The old boundaries have been broken in media and arts, allowing emerging stars like Jin break onto the scene and popularize even more the Chinese culture. Chinese characters are now an art form found on the walls in homes. Fung Shui is a popular home design to encourage balance, serenity and prosperity. The Chinese culture rich in history promises restoration in life flows, almost guarantees success with what they value and believe. As westerners, we listened and became infatuated with their calm sense of being and their belief system. Even their work ethics have us silently amazed. To see Jin “learn Chinese” video represent china in a hip hop music art form was fascinating.

Jin has done a lot of variety of things not many know. For the “2 Fast 2 Furious” film he not only landed a small role as a mechanic, his song “Peel Off” was featured on the soundtrack. Jin also has a new album soon to be released in 2007. Whatever Jin chooses next, we have already tasted his influence on hip hop in a new delivery, bringing us that much closer to having to learn Chinese.


Collecting Vinyl Records

Collecting Vinyl Records

The demise of the vinyl record has become a statement all to common in the music industry. Vinyl records were supposed to be a dead music format a long time ago, but have persevered through many technological changes in the music industry.

In this day and age of ipods and digital downloads, where people can fit thousands of songs in such a neat little package, how has the vinyl record managed to compete; what is the allure?

Recent research reveals that teens enjoy the physical experience they get with a vinyl record and the interaction between themselves and the record. There is a certain ritual one must rely on to play a vinyl record, and much to the dismay of the digital world, the youth of the world is receptive to this type of interaction.

For some, collecting vinyl records is an obsession, a life long journey to obtain hidden masterpieces locked away in the attics and basements around the globe. For others, just owning a few selected gems from their favorite band or recording artist is enough to satisfy their collecting palate.

Then there is the thrill of the hunt, scouring the online web sites and auctions looking for a rare or collectible record for their collection. For the adventurous, there are the numerous garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and the like, that dot the countryside in every town in America. There, they can search through the dusty boxes and bins for their the next special addition to their already growing vinyl record collection. There is almost a sense of pride, self-worth, if you will, in finding what you are looking for, if only to be satisfied for a moment, until you realize you must find another rare treasure to add to your collection.

Ever since Alex Steinweiss designed the first album cover for Columbia Records in 1939, album cover art has been highly collectible and is a part of music history. Classic album covers like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills (designed by Robert Crumb), Led Zeppelins’ Physical Graffiti are iconic. Some bands enlisted the aid of world renowned artists to design the album covers and concepts for their latest releases, including the Rolling Stones, who used Andy Warhol’s idea for their album Sticky Fingers.

For some, collecting vinyl is an investment. Not only a monetary investment but a cultural one as well. Vinyl records are part of pop culture as we know it and certainly part of the rock and roll era. Preserving vinyl records, the art, the music, is a very important part of this phenomenon.

But the one thing that sets vinyl apart from all other musical formats is that vinyl records just sound the best. There is no substitute for the sound reproduction that vinyl brings to music, no digital counterpart. And for that, the vinyl record will continue to survive, if not thrive.


Paul Simon – A Musical And Cultural Icon Returns To The Stage

Paul Simon – A Musical And Cultural Icon Returns To The Stage

Paul Simon is a music and entertainment beacon, and fans of several generations will be thrilled to hear that he is returning to the stage with a full schedule of shows around the United States in 2006. Simon’s work evokes different meanings for different people, but the fact remains that very few performers draw from as diverse a fan base as Simon. A look at his life and influences may help to explain why.

Early Life

Simon was born on October 13, 1941 in Newark Heights, New Jersey, but his family soon moved to Queens, which was where Simon was introduced to the world. Simon was raised in a typical family setting, and attended Forest Hills High School, where he became very interested in music.

It was here that Simon met and befriended Art Garfunkel, and the two began playing music together sporadically under the band name “Tom and Jerry”. The immediate bond the two shared centered on their mutual admiration of The Everly Brothers, and they released their first single, Hey, Schoolgirl, in 1957 and it climbed to number 49 on the charts. However, the duo did not begin their famous duo effort at this time. Instead, Simon continued to play on his own and with other artists.

Simon continued his education at Queens College, and he ultimately got his degree in English Literature. During this time, until he finished college, Simon was introduced to the folk music scene in New York City, and he continued to work on his own compositions. Simon released more than 30 songs before he graduated from college, most of which were released on small record labels.

A Legendary Duo

In 1964, Simon and Garfunkel began their longstanding work together by signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and they released their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. that same year. One of the singles from that first album, “The Sound of Silence”, climbed to number one on the charts, and a dynamic duo was born.

For the next six years, the two singers released seven albums, one of which being the soundtrack for the legendary movie, “The Graduate”. Although none of the singles from these albums achieved huge commercial success, the duo’s work achieved cult status that’s hard to match. A testament to their underground popularity was seen in 1981, when Simon and Garfunkel got together for a concert in Central Park that drew over 500,000 people.

Going Solo

After Simon and Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon continued to release albums, and his influence never waned. Simon released 14 albums during his time as a solo artist, and overall, Simon’s commercial success actually grew, as he produced 17 singles that made the US charts. He also became a renowned musical writer, helping produce several platinum albums for other artists and Broadway productions. Simon continues to write and compose to this day.

Achievements

Paul Simon’s status as an icon was cemented by several honors he received in reflection of his musical influence. Simon was inducted, with Art Garfunkel, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Simon was again recognized when he received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. A year later, Simon and Garfunkel received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which led to a tour that wrapped up at the Colosseum in Rome in front of a staggering 600,000 fans.

Paul Simon has been perfecting the art of music and performing for nearly 50 years, and this summer’s tour will be an opportunity for fans of all ages to bask in the glow of a musical legend.