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...so, I admit, I started this off as a "Holiday Gift Guide"-themed post of sorts but scrapped the idea when, suddenly, it dawned to me: why would anyone out there in our readership of tens, when looking for a gift to give, think about listening to the advice of a man and his mostly useless interest in politically progressive hip-hop? Why would you even continue to write this post? Could it have to do with the fact that, after finishing your last final paper, you rejected the most obvious next step (sleep) and instead weighed the idea of writing a blog post?

(And, since it'd likely be asked by somebody eventually--for each artist, I've included their connection to Asian American cultural productions, Kevin Bacon style.)

BAMBU | ...exact change...

Reasons to Listen:
-Bam's lurid storytelling and dozens-playing is all the more focused, and it makes the album feel less meandering and more complete
-"Crooks and Rooks," his retrospective condemnation of gang violence that does its job without being preachy (and the beat is great)
-He can mention "Dirty Sanchez" in his lyrics without me cracking up or recoiling in horror. In other words, he's pretty clever (for those who don't know the term and want to find out: not for the prude)

Highlights: "Crooks and Rooks," "Quit," "Out the Gate," "Party Boy"

The Asian Bacon connection: Bambu is Filipino. One degree!

COMMON MARKET | Tobacco Road

Reasons to Listen:
-RA Scion (emcee) and Sabzi (producer) mesh extremely well, and it never feels forced
-"Back Home (The Return)," in which Sabzi flips the same sample from "Back Home" and makes it sound qualitatively different. Kudos!
-Who else could release a EP and LP with the thematic strain of the early-20th-century labor struggles of white tenant farmers in the rural South? It also merits this RA outfit.

Highlights: "Trouble Is," "Back Home (The Return)," "Weather Vane," "Nothin' At All"

The Asian Bacon connection: Sabzi's other group Blue Scholars features an emcee, Geologic, who is Filipino. Two degrees!

Q-TIP | The Renaissance

Reasons to Listen:
-Q-Tip makes the album sound like 1994 and 2008 at the exact same time, and every song feels like it belongs where it does. And he's still a solid rapper!
-"We Fight/We Love." Gotta love Raphael Saadiq
-Pop it in and you'll start reminiscing about the "good ol' days of hip-hop," a nostalgic reminder of the Midnight Marauders days when we were 6 and singing along to the Power Rangers theme song
-Tip's hat in the "Gettin' Up" music vid. Few people could get away with that

Highlights: "Gettin' Up," "We Fight/We Love," "Move," "Dance on Glass"

The Asian Bacon connection: The music video for "Move" was directed by Rik Cordero, who is Filipino. Also, to give the non-Pin@ys a chance: "Life is Better" features Norah Jones, who is Desi. 2 x 2 degrees!

INVINCIBLE | ShapeShifters

Reasons to Listen:
-Her lyricism is the densest and cleverest of anything I've heard in like 5 years. On "Sledgehammer!" alone, she alludes to the Detroit Pistons, Peter Gabriel, J Dilla, Fred Hampton, Orville Redenbacher, and Frantz Fanon, and has the line "there goes the neighborhood, like Fred Sanford next door to Ned Flanders."
-Strong, critical, genuinely feminist rappers are few and far between in a world of music industries that put butt & bust sizes first
-She walks the walk, and is a community/youth organizer and educator in Detroit and Ann Arbor!

Highlights: "Sledgehammer!," "Spacious Skies," "Recognize," "Locusts," and everything else

The Asian Bacon connection: ShapeShifters both quotes and features an audio sample from Grace Lee Boggs, who is also a badass Detroit community organizer, and is Chinese. Two degrees! This is pretty easy.

KANYE WEST | 808's and Heartbreak

Reasons to Listen:

Highlights: "Spaceship," "Two Words," "Heard 'Em Say," "Flashing Lights"

The Asian Bacon connection: Kanye often works with Jay-Z, whose album American Gangster was based on the movie featuring Denzel Washington, which also featured Josh Brolin, who was in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon!

(Good night.)


  1. Anonymous said...

    great post! Invincible's album is available here: http://emergencemusic.net/  

  2. Marilla said...

    i am in love with common market. "push" was replaying in my head all day.  

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