The growth of an overseas Chinese hip hop artist and his very first single’s inspiration.
Intro: Me as a Chinese Hip hop artist
My name is Yaoyuan Jiang, my rap name is Chilltown. I am a part-time DJ and music producer, rapper, painter, art tutor. prior to this program, I had just graduated from the University of Toronto Mississauga campus, the plan was to move to Bushwick new York perusing music, yet COVID had grounded me from going back to the states, so here I am, keep on doing what I love to do, and hopefully learn from every single one of you.
This LOGO “Straight outta CZ” I had made yesterday, to give a little background info, so, this text at the bottom supposed to be Compton instead of CZ, which is a very rough neighborhood in West Coast LA, the infamous Hip-Hop group N.W.A had mapped Compton in the history of Hip-hop, I borrowed this idea of “A good MC has to know where he comes from”, so thxs to online image generator, they em, re-birthed my bootlegging and hip-hop career.
Anyways, CZ actually represents the city of Changzhou where I spend most of my childhood with my grandparents, a city that taught me how to live fully, and be wild and out. No doubt this is the major reason I wanted to contribute this track in my baby dialect and give back to the city.
Since last Xmas break, I have been reaching out to 3 artists, Bohan phoenix who has been mentoring me since 2017, I was his hype man for his Jiala tour in Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, and Chengdu. He had introduced higher brothers to the label 88 rising, he’s been making music since 2007 I believe, now he’s got lots of recognition in the East coast regions, collabed with dumbfoundead, Howie lee, he was also invited as one of the judges by vans musician wanted alongside Anderson paak, JID.
Bohan has taught me what it was like to not live by fear and we had a conversation about Asian representations in America, he had told me that “this might not apply to you because u r trying to do it in China, but the whole idea of people in the states going there’s no representation in rap, in Hip-Hop for the Chinese community, I’m like, well, name me somebody that you think should be up there with Drake and Kendrick.”
Well, like he said, if you are a dope artist, not winning a grammy wouldn’t phase you, any artist before they win anything does not mean they are whack. If you want to know more about Bohan, Go check out a great documentary on Youtube, it’s named: Bohan Phoenix: The Chinese-American Rapper Bridging East and West.
D track. I had the honor to email him briefly about hip hop and what is his take on bilingual raps. He’s been to Asia for shows, especially Vietnam, I personally think D track created a clear vision and understood how to execute brand marketing himself as an hip-hop artist out there, even though most people in Asia do not speak French besides Vietnamess second-third generations after the war. So if he was able to rock a foreign crowd, hes got something up in his sleeves, man.
Last but not least dom Deshawn. Interesting to say is that I met dom on Bohan’s weekly twitch stream, so every Monday there’s this session where everyone could send in works/ideas/projects to inspire each other, throughout 6 months period of time, me and Deshawn both shared our crafts, we kind of gained this mutual respect for each other and because he been in the game pretty long so he more of a sensai to me, therefore I had the chance to ask him to be my mentor. Luckily he said yes, he had shared his struggle as an African American growing up, not going to college, fearing his inability to not live up to his music dream, things like stage anxiety in his early career, and I really absorbed his share knowledge for the past year.
Me as an Chinese Hip hop artist
If we tap into my real inspiration B4 my adolescence, out of the four elements in Hip-Hop, MC and break dancing was my absolute favorite just because it’s cheaper than DJing and graffiti, but you have to understand that graffiti is a form of rebellion against the government if you’re into graffiti you have to do it without permission, so that and DJing was off the list. I remember At that time, I was so into Hip-Hop to the point where I would save all my money and begged my mom tow hundred times for a 4-day Break dancing lesson, and my very very first inspiration was
Cassie’s M and U, M and U is an R&M song that I heard my dancing coach was practicing with, it really hit me deeply,I was like, DAMN, I have to kill it with this fire beat, I have to practice running man, crazy feet, waves, popping, all these moves. You know, Fast forward, 4 years later, I got injured, there goes my basketball and dancing career, and that’s when I moved to the states and really start getting cultured from that point on.
I remember back then I was still listening to Lady Gaga until I decided to join our Tuesday lunch break freestyle battle, I would never forget this experience, and I would like to share with you, So the story goes, I was a junior at the time, it was my first cypher and a sophomore hit me with a line says “This china man’s chinky eyes reminded me of Lucy Liu, send him back with some poisoning Chinese food”, few seconds after that I was like “wow, did he really spit that”, my mind just went blank, I didn’t know what to respond, It was clearly my first and the most embarrassing and educational defeat. So I went back home and did my little research, finally waited on Pizza Tuesday where I had a chance to fire back at him, once the cypher beginned, I was so locked in, when it was my turn, I hit him with the line says “Last week your sister showed me her favorite Chinese letter tat that don’t mean jack, I tatted a free red hickey on her neck” and the crowd wasn’t expecting it and I got voted straight for homecoming king for that year. Never felt better. Biggest comeback of 2011
& I remember back in the days, all my classmates were all listening to Lil Wayne’s Carter 3 album, But, I was never into artists like Lil Wayne, snoop dog, I’m not saying they aren’t OGs, its just that they passed down Hip Hop to the generation after them and my favorite artists are lyricists like J Cole, Kendrick who are all inspired by them, they translated the genre in a brand new way, but the struggle was always there in the first place, but we’re not going into the history of racial injustice today.
Another perspective is the issue of appropriation, I would like to quote what Bohan once had said, “I think it is all about intentions, people can say whatever they want, but then we talk about Wutang appropriating Asian culture way back in the 90s, they’re like damn near the first Asian rappers, like sampling elements from 36 chambers, and I love all of that, listening to that growing up does not make me feel like Wutang is appropriating my culture,
all these terms like Chinese rapper, we’re all just making hip-hop music and I happen to be Chinese, you know, like what is black Shaolin? There’s no African Shaolin martial arts, they are just people practicing
I have to agree on some level with him for this one, I do think if you really love something and if your intention is pure, those who love you will know.
Here is the cover that I made for my single, this is a picture of me and my cousin back in the 90s, I’m the one on the left, a little scared-ass kid who got peer pressure from my cousin, I should thank him for pushing me to climb onto the tree, this picture wouldn’t exist otherwise.
My lyrics are in Wu dialect mixing with some lingo, my choice of beat is from The Fugees la, credit to these pioneers. The trailer will be out on April fools. The way I make music is always based on the beat, I wouldn’t write anything without having any beat ready.
That’s it for me, hope you guys enjoyed it and
Stay true to yourself.