Knock, knock. Who’s there? Jin. Jin, who? Exactly.
I don’t know how many years it’s been since Jin, the first quasi-mainstream Asian American MC, first broke on to the scene winning like 38 straight Freestyle Friday battles on 106th and Park. I think that was back when Free and Al Harris, I mean AJ were hosting. For those of you not in the nose, sit shotgun in my DeLorean and let’s go back, waaaaaaay back, to 2001.
Jin makes massive waves in the hip-hop community after showing up on his first Freestyle Friday to go against a 6-week Champion, one victory away from an induction into the BET freestyle hall of fame. Underestimated because of his Chinese American background, Jin stuns the few thousand people watching the show on TV and defeats the defending champ. For the next 6 weeks Jin destroys every MC who faces him with lyrical dexterity that seemed, at the time, nonpareil.
On the day of his 7th victory and the day he was retired as champ and inducted into the freestyle hall of fame, Jin signed a deal with the Ruff Ryders, home of DMX, Jadakiss and Eve at the time. JIn brandished his Ruff Ryders chain after his final battle to the cheers of the crowd and however many Asian Americans watching from home in Wisconsin. Dude had made it. Dude had crossed the color line. Dude was Jackie Robinson. Dude was a bust.
Nearly 8 years later, after a mediocre first single and a sharp attack on Hot 97’s Miss Jones that put on for all of Asia after the tsunami, Jin might be back. Our friend, Miss Info (not really, but we know a dude who kind of knows a dude who I think is tight with her…I think) posted a new track by Jin on her website yesterday, a remix of Kanye’s VMA performance that portended his later scuffle with the law, “Love Lockdown.”
A giant F-you-manchu to all the haters who dismiss Kanye for being an uppity black rapper who thinks he deserves more than he’s earned. If Andre 3000 released Love Lockdown, Pitchfork and all the other fan boys would toss it in the vaunted pantheon before the 2 minute mark. Just because ‘Ye didn’t dance around and rhyme for you like a rapping monkey you’re going to write him off as a legitimate talent? If so then you’re less informed than Sarah Palin. “Now everything I’m not / Made me everything I am.” Words to live by. Get them tattooed on your stomach. Oh, you already did? Nice work.
Thing is, Kanye’s track is kind of tight, more enjoyable because of it’s ambition than its accomplishment. Jin’s track, though? Not that stellar. Dude just talks about reading Miss Info’s blog, living in Hong Kong and supporting Obama for President. There is just one thing, though. Jin’s line:
“But Jin, you’ve been long gone / Actually I’m in Hong Kong / Out there like I just got on / Russell Peters tap some bong.”
This probably means nothing to the average me-first, do nothing American reader, but I feel like this is kind of a big deal in terms of the geopolitical distribution of power. Jin, a Chinese American MC in Hong Kong just referenced a South Asian comedian from Canada in a song that samples Kanye West and was released via an Asian American girl’s hip hop blog to be streamed by Indians in Wisconsin. Is there anything more post-millennial than that? It’s BRIC, baby. F Brazil, Diplo already pillaged that. And Russia? They’re just angry and scary. It’s India and China that are about to take over the world, it seems. Or at least the internet hip hop game.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Jin. Get familiar, or as Russell Peters would say, “Someone’s a gonna getta hurt a real bad.” WW4. Coming 2012. Jin and Russell Peters Supreme Commanders of the axis forces. Protect. Ya. Neck.