Hmong Emcees rise and stay true to roots.
by Bang TziaNeng Lis
As refugees trying to find their way in a new land living in a society and culture extremely different from their own, many of the first groups of Hmong rappers were rap music clichιs and replicas of what was seen in mainstream rap music. Dysfunktional Family represent a few of many fresh Hmong emcees that understand hip-hop as a culture and art.
Rodger Kue (AKA Mr. Rodgers from the hip-hop group Dysfunktional Family from Providence, Rhode Island) explains, Many Hmong rappers were just copying what they saw on TV and following whatever the trend was. There was no love, no passion; they just wanted to play a role.
was a huge boom of Hmong gangsta rap because of a dangerous emergence of Hmong
gang activity during the 90s. It was what most Hmong youth could relate
to at the time because many youth were lost and trying to find their way between
two conflicting cultures. None of these rappers had lasting value though; everyone
was out for themselves.
Rodger does feel that there is hope for Hmong hip-hop. Hmong emcees are
growing with the times now and many young emcees are coming up.
Plucky Xiong, a respected Hmong emcee from Chico, Calif., who chooses to write
about real life matters, agrees. Im really excited about the raw
talent of new emcees coming up. Weve learned lyrical structures like
multi-syllables and metaphors. The content is changing to be more influential;
I see a bright future. Theres more of a sense of unity.
Hip hop relating to Hmong culture.
of the Hmong elders rejected hip-hop music because it was always stereotyped
as negative and portrayed in mainstream culture as violent, degrading to women
Hip-hop was created out of the struggles of disenfranchised inner-city communities.
The music of hip-hop speaks of these struggles. Doua Vang, the current RARE
emcee battle champion of St. Paul, Minn. says, Its all about struggle.
Weve been through a lot of struggle as Hmong people through history.
Its a form of self-expression through oppression to alleviate all the
stress weve been through.
Struggle is the connection between the Hmong people and hip-hop created by Black
Americans from the inner city. Another connection is oral tradition. Hmong people
have traditional ways of expression called Paj Huam and Kwv Txiaj (two forms
of oral poetry). Kwv Txiaj is more chanting but both are ways that Hmong people
have passed on stories through generations. But many Hmong youth are not learning
these traditional arts anymore. Hip-hop has a spiritual connection to these
art forms in their poetry and expression. Some say hip-hop is a new way for
Hmong poets to have a voice and continue these traditions today.
Hmong emcees are being
empowered by hip-hop and using it as a tool for social change. The H Project
is a national compilation CD of artists from all over the nation with songs
inspired by the genocide of Hmong people in Laos to raise awareness and funds
for that situation. Hmong Hip hop artists that contributed were Pure Substance,
Ill Ego Aliens, Delicious Venom, City Wide Kin and Money Mike.
Ill Ego Aliens of Wisconsin and Delicious Venom of Minnesota are bringing new
elements to the Hmong hip hop scene, by being creative, unique and true to the
hip-hop culture, as well as their own. Delicious Venom have ventured outside
of the Hmong community to represent and educate about their culture and struggles
to other communities. They also help nurture talent and give opportunities to
other emcees on the rise and have been involved with the Twin Cities Hip-hop
festival. Hmong hip-hop is taking a turn for the positive and learning from
its mistakes. Hmong emcees contribute their own unique life struggles and ancestors
traditional poetry to hip-hop music. They wont be a secret anymore. ||
4th Annual Hmong Arts Festival
Saturday, August 20, 2005, 10am-6pm
Western Sculpture Park on Marion St. in Saint Paul
For more info on The H Project:
Schedule of Events
The 4th Annual Twin Cities Celebration of Hip-Hop
4:45 Upper Midwest MC Battle Preliminaries
5:20 Akira Johnson St. Paul, MN
5:40 Leroy Smokes Twin Cities, MN
6:10 Upper Midwest Production Battle
7:05 Network Crew Chicago, IL
7:30 Upper Midwest Emcee Battle Finals
8:05 Blue Collar Boys Bowling Green, KY
8:30 Moochy C Twin Cities, MN
8:45 Big Quarters Twin Cities, MN
9:05 Guardians of Balance St. Paul, MN
9:25 Interlock All Stars Twin Cities, MN
9:50 Slum Village Detroit, MI
NO OUTDOOR EVENTS
5:25 Style Network Crew Kansas City, MO
5:50 Upper Midwest Beatbox Battle
6:25 Soulistic Minneapolis, MN
6:30 Upper Midwest BBoy Battle Finals
7:40 3rd Party Brooklyn, NY
8:00 Purest Form St. Paul, MN
8:20 Trama Sutra Queens, NY
8:40 Fiction Twin Cities, MN
9:10 Knowledge MC Twin Cities, MN
9:35 Doomtree Twin Cities, MN
10:05 I Self Devine Minneapolis, MN
4:00 Free and Open Market Begins
4:30 Upper Midwest Bboy Battle Preliminaries
5:30 Teens Rock the Mic Twin Cities, MN
5:40 Indigo St. Paul, MN
6:00 Upper Midwest DJ Battle
Upper Midwest Dance Battle Finals
7:40 Melody Beats Twin Cities, MN
7:55 HEAT Twin Cities, MN
8:10 Cleazy Bowling Green, KY
8:30 AD Minneapolis, MN
8:50 Maria Isa Puerto Rico/St. Paul
9:15 Illuminous 3 Minneapolis, MN
9:35 The C.O.R.E. Minneapolis, MN
10:00 Slick Rick New York, NY
4:00 Free and Open Market Begins
4:30 Upper Midwest Dance Battle Preliminaries
7:00 Free and Open Market Ends
With Daylight and Asia-One
Call YO! The Movement for more info...612.874.YOYO (9696)