Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Impact of the First Asian Musicians in America

The next big trend in America is the "Asian Invasion" in the entertainment industry. We have all seen glimpses of it already in TV and movies with more Asian faces appearing left and right (ie. Grey's Anatomy, Survivor, Grudge 2, Mad TV). And we have people like Bruce Lee, Chow Yun Fat, and Jackie Chan to thank for taking the first step for all Asians in America. But even after 20 years of Mr. Lee's debut, Asian actors still get 1 of 3 images: kung fu master, stupid gangster, or more prominently as the Asian dork. It has only been in the past 5 years or so, has the image slowly begin to change and Asian actors have been taken more seriously. Thanks to people like Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, and Zhang Ziyi have Americans been able to see the talented side Asian artists.

Now, the next big step for Asian artists is the make a breakthrough in the music industry. The leading singers in this "Asian race" to stardom are Se7en and Rain who will make their debut in America this Summer and Fall respectively. These two singers are both Korean Hip-Hop artists, in their mid 20's, and are just learning English as we speak! I find it somewhat interesting that it was Chinese artists who were the first to make it in America on the big screen, but it's now Koreans who are going to make their debut before any other Asian race. Could something be said about the strength's in both Asian cultures' entertainment industries, or just a coincidence? We will save that for another time.

Since these two artists have similarities with their music genre, dancing abilities, and physical appearance (Asian), I have two concerns. My concerns are Americans will not be able to tell them apart (which will cause an obstacle to distiniguish themselves), and people will heavily joke about their accents. Sure, people love accents, but what they really love, are Spanish, French, and British accents. Whenever people think of Asian accents, they just mock it and laugh until their stomachs hurt. This is both Rain's and Se7en's biggest obstacle. I have heard both of their debut singles, and I must say their English sounds flawless. The hip hop beats are very catchy and trendy in America, and American stars like Omarion and Fabolous are in it as well. But when we start to hear them speak English during interviews, it's like a whole new person has taken over their bodies and a captions on our TV captions are must have's in order to understand what's going on.

One of the key points the artists are going to distinguish themselves is their go-to-market strategy. Se7en is trying to be first to market by making her debut in the next several months, and will also have the support from people like Mark Shimmel (Usher's producer) and Rich Harrison (producer of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love"). While Rain's strategies are utilizing JY Park's (Rain's mentor and producer) connection in the US music world, and his initial popularity by being Times Magazine Top 100 Most Influential People, and his successful Madison Square Garden concert last year. JY Park has been hitting it big in America already, working with artists like Diddy, Hilary Duff, Will Smith, and Omarion. JY Park will continue to lay the roads and connections for Rain until he sets a name for himself. Rain has already done very well for himself because once people see him, they are immediately hooked. His talent have gotten people like Jaime King (stage director for Madonna's Confessions Tour), Diddy, Lil' Jon, and Omarion to support him.

Both artists should do very well in the US, but this inital impression they make, will make a long lasting impact on future Asian artists who want to make it big in America to come. Will future Asian artists be labeled as only 1 dimension as Bruce Lee was when he first came out, or will artists like Wong Lee Hom and Jay Chou be able to bring their own styles of music to a more accepting American crowd in the near future? We will have to wait and see...


ost said...
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kaylin said...

I think Asians will get their chance to shine this time around.. First there was the Latino takeover, now its our turn.