The story of CTown’s Hip-Hop inspiration

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.

Inspirations

 

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

Mentors

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.

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

 

Chinese hip hop artist

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

 

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

Chinese hip hop artist

 

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

Chinese hip hop artist

& 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.

Culture appropriation

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,

Chinese hip hop artist

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

Shaolin”

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

 

Chinese hip hop artist

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.

Chinese hip hop artist

That’s it for me, hope you guys enjoyed it and

Stay true to yourself.

 

Social Media

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Youtube

Email: yaoyuan.jiang@outlook.com

 

 

 

Netflix’s Kid Cosmic

Netflix’s Kid Cosmic

In Feb 2, 2021 Netflix released a new entry to join the ranks of their roster of original animated shows. Netflix’s Kid Cosmic follows a young boy named Kid who discovers five stones that can grant unique powers. Kid Cosmic is the latest creation of cartoon legend Craig McCracken, creator of the Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander Over Yonder. The show is based on a comic strip that Craig had made, and the show retains that classic comic strip art style. Having grown up with comics like Calvin and Hobbes that greatly pleased me. Check out the trailer.

Netflix's Kid Cosmic
Property of Netflix

Summary 

The show is about Kid discovering five stones that come from a space ship that crash landed on Earth. Kid immediately assumes that they have power, which he’s correct, and goes telling everyone that he’s going to become a superhero. He ends up forming a team and gives everyone a ring. The team consists of Kid who can fly, Jo who can make portals, Rosa who can become giant, Papa G who can multiply, and Tuna Sandwich, a cat that can see the future. As the series progresses Kid struggles with being and feeling like a real hero while he faces alien invaders who desire the stones.

The Characters

The main characters are likeable and the story structure was alright. However, I did have a problem with Kid. In the beginning he is obsessed with being a hero. He wasn’t very likeable in most of the show but that was to set up the growth that he would go through. There were times when he was selfish and annoying, but I never hated him for it. Without spoiling too much, Kid goes through the series worrying about being a hero and how things never go his way. At the end he understands that he doesn’t have to be the leader or even a great hero. Although I didn’t love him, Kid was not an irritating protagonist and I’m sure that this growth was needed seeing as the show is planned to have 2 more seasons. Unfortunately, Kid is the only character that was developed in the show. Jo gets a bit of setup early on with the desire to travel but it’s not explored much. Her character is defined as the responsible one who watches over Kid, more so really than his actual guardian. His guardian, Papa G, doesn’t get much focus. He is an open minded individual who really cares for Kid. Rosa, the little 4 year old, doesn’t get much attention and Tuna Sandwich the cat gets roughly an episode to show case his bond with Kid. The characters aren’t flat and I do love Rosa, she’s adorable, but the season does focus mostly on Kid. You can argue that there is a focus on some characters and that it is spaced out, but they feel more like learning moments than actual development.

The Art Style

As mentioned above the show has a nice comic art style. The style resembles a combination of different comics that you might see on the Sunday newspaper. The style isn’t jarring and a good portion of the combination is seen from the aliens to distinguish what is from earth and what isn’t. The characters from earth are rather simplistic but the backgrounds can be quite detailed. Another aspect I love is how fluid the show is in art direction. It’s not inconsistent but rather it isn’t afraid to change things up to express their location and mood.

The References

There are a lot of references that people can draw from this show. The first and most obvious are the power rings. Very likely a reference to Captain Planet and the five power rings that summon him. One aspect of the five rings does change near the end of the season, but the fact that they start at five very likely references Captain Planet. Kid’s comics look just like classic Marvel comics and so are the panels in them. Later in the season we are introduced to a team called the Earth Force Enforcement Force, a team of armoured heroes from different countries from around the world. The heroes are red, blue, green, yellow, and pink. The team are clearly a reference to the power rangers and many of their actions are clear references to them.

Netflix’s Kid Cosmic Review Conclusion

The show is great with a lot of entertaining and funny moments and I definitely encourage people to check it out. It’s not a masterpiece but is definitely getting a rewatch or two from me. I look forward to the next season titled Kid Cosmic and the Intergalactic Truckstop.

 

 

Interested in something entertaining in Toronto? Check out some Social Distanced options.