Although it started in the South Bronx among African-American and Latino youths in the ‘70s, hip-hop culture today has transcended all racial and language boundaries. From the slums of France to nationally televised programs in Korea, rappers have emerged as legitimate pop-culture stars around the world. Hip-hop’s global movement is diverse, but the face of rap in America remains primarily black, brown, and white.
Which leads to this question: What about Asian-American rappers? Where are they, and can they succeed in that world? From pioneers like the Mountain Brothers, Jin, and Lyrics Born, to recent pop juggernauts the Far East Movement, the Asian-American presence in rap has always existed, but has never been documented or revealed in great detail…until now.
Bad Rap is an independent documentary about four Asian-American rappers who dream of succeeding in the mainstream, selling out huge venues, hearing themselves on the radio, and becoming household names.
Through a colorful soundtrack, gritty visuals, and utter honesty, the characters share their experiences of fear, perceived failure, and hopes of triumph. And at its heart, the film is about young Asian Americans facing, head-on, a culture that expects them to fulfill the model minority stereotype.
Bad Rap also includes other accomplished Asian-American rap artists (Far East Movement), pop stars (Jay Park), YouTube celebrities (Traphik), and industry insiders, all in an effort to answer the following questions:
Do people know or care about Asian-American rappers?
What makes this group of rappers different?
Why hasn’t there been an Asian-American rap star yet?
Dumbfoundead - Los Angeles, California. He earned his huge following as a freestyle battle champ in California's Grind Time circuit. His YouTube and social media savvy helped to establish him as one of hip-hop's most recognized independent rap artists. So why isn't he marketable?
Awkwafina - Queens, New York. She’s quirky, funny, and blew up after her music video “My Vag” became a viral hit and praised by New York Magazine and Buzzfeed. Cynics say she’s only marketable because she’s a woman, but is that really the case? And can she have longevity in a genre that has long relegated Asian women to the role of exotic ornaments?
Rekstizzy - Queens, New York. His name is inspired by recklessness and he’s known for his wild stage antics and left-field personality. He wants to share his innovative ideas and push the envelope, but too often his outrageous creativity blatantly crosses boundaries and makes some people uncomfortable. But is his bold style what’s needed for an Asian-American to break through the mainstream?
Lyricks - Fairfax, Virginia. He started his career with a strong emphasis on Christian values. Now, unsure of his artistic identity and having to support his aging parents, Lyricks stands at the crossroads, trying to figure out how to move forward as an artist.
Salima Koroma (Director/Producer) - Salima’s first movies were three-minute cat videos edited on Windows Movie Maker when she was 12. Now, she still watches cat videos, but thankfully, she’s moved on to other things. She was a writer for Hip-Hop DX, an editor at Current TV, and now works as a news producer. Despite the daily grind, she pretty much eats, breathes, and dreams this documentary.
Jaeki Cho (Producer) - The first rap records Jaeki Cho heard were by Korean-American duo Drunken Tiger back when he was 10 years old. Ever since then he has become infatuated with music and subculture, dedicating a majority of his adolescence obsessing over anything pertaining to hip-hop. After working for independent rap artist Snacky Chan throughout high school, Jaeki landed an internship at Complex Media in college. Since then he has pursued a career in music journalism, writing for publications such as Complex, VIBE, Billboard, and working as an editor for XXL. He doesn’t write about rap as much, but is trying to figure out ways to make you watch this film.
The two filmmakers first got in touch after Jaeki wrote about the world-famous K-pop star G-Dragon. Salima was searching for a subject to cover for her thesis at Columbia University, and reached out to Jaeki for advice on covering Asian musicians. After going back and forth on the phone for hours, they settled on a subject: their mutual obsession with hip-hop. And that turned into Bad Rap.
For Salima, it’s a subject that she had little idea existed, but has grown to love more than anyone. As for Jaeki, it’s something he supported all along, but couldn’t find the medium to share it with the world. Salima can use a camera and Jaeki is great with people; it was a perfect marriage of creative ideals that naturally evolved into a film.
The duo’s goal is to tell the story of four talented rappers on the come-up, and in the process, share the struggles and triumphs of Asian-American artists through rappers who’ve built the foundation, and those who are still making the climb.
Staying up long nights and asking friends to help out DIY style, Salima and Jaeki were able to create a 40-minute version of the film, completely out of their own pockets with no outside funding. But there's still a need to film more to complete a 70-minute feature. All your generous contributions will be used for the following:
• Recruit a graphic designer to create a uniform brand identity including logo, caption, and promo assets.
• Bring on a motion-graphics artist to create visuals for different segments in the film.
• Work with a sound engineer to mix, master, and edit the music and vocals of the entire film.
• Create marketing tools such as merchandise, posters, online ads, and press releases to promote the film.
• Purchase equipment: cameras, lighting, lenses, and computer programs.
• Recruit production and post-production assistants to expedite the process of shooting and editing.
• Help fund travel, editing, and production of the film.