CAN STAR2 AND OTHER ASIAN AMERICANS FIND SUCCESS IN HIP HOP?

 

Star2, a Ka-ren refugee from Burma, born in a Thai refugee camp, found hip hop and rap growing up in inner-city San Diego.  Like most children experiencing poverty and violence, hip hop music spoke to him.  “My idols were Tupak, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube, Tyga, and later Lil Tjay, Polo J, Juice Wrld, and Kendrick Lamar.  I had a particular closeness to Asian rappers – Stupid Young from Long Beach, Heartbreaka from San Diego, MB Nel from Stockton.”

Rap and hip hop resonate with everyone and has become the dominant form of music and pop culture – influencing kids of all ethnicities. Acceptance and recognition within the genre is tricky, however.  Eminem broke through as a white artist but he is the exception.  Asian-American rappers – even singers – are hard to identify.  Bruno Mars, Olivio Rodrigo, H.E.R. and Saweetie are mixed-race Asians — Tyga is half-Vietnamese – but many do not even realize they have Asian heritage. Their ethnicity is ambiguous.

Many music executives have erroneously concluded that Asian American singers are not marketable and that U.S. teens and consumers will not connect with them.  This is strange considering that K-Pop groups (BTS and Black Pink) are incredibly popular in addition to millions of dollars spent annually in the Anime and Manga pop culture domain and their incredible following and fashionableness in the US. “Model-Asian” stereotypes also persist (nerd, classical musician) and many will not allow Asian American singers to be sexy or cool.

As for Star2, critical acclaim has come and his buzz has begun:

“You can’t fake talent like this” writes Loren Sperry with music industry veteran Michael Stover reviewing his song “Real Life” with Jacksonville, Florida rapper Lil Poppa for Music Existence… “Star2’s melodic vocal is the center of calm in this track, and in tandem with Lil Poppa’s I think they produce the kind of harmonies in this single that hip-hop and trap need more of right now. There’s scarcely a moment in which either of their melodicism doesn’t feel as impactful – if not more – than the straight rapping does, which on its own says a lot about their skillsets both independently and together. They’re phenomenal linguists, and the fact that they’re even better at harmonizing tells me that there’s more experimentation to be done here…I love where Star2 is taking his sound right now.”

Noted Canadian rock critic Darryl Sterdan concurs, “The Asian-American singer, songwriter and rapper is garnering plenty of attention for his seamless blend of pop, R&B and hip-hop. Raised in inauspicious circumstances, Star2 channels his life struggles into music that is bold, high-spirited and soulful … After moving to San Diego at age six with his grandmother, he was overwhelmed by the western world. Music became his solace, and as a teen he began to rap, sing, write and perform, quickly developing a sound brimming with winning hooks and rich harmonies. Since 2020, the Star2 has captivated audiences with a series of singles, including the heartbreak ballad I Wanna Get F’d Up and the gritty Real Life, which chronicles his experiences growing up in inner-city poverty.”

With over 1 million streams on Spotify and over 50 videos between his music and his YouTube vlog, the Adventures of Star2, Star2 is making waves.  Upcoming collaborations include two more songs with Lil Poppa, a song and video with Long Beach gold record rapper Stupid Young and rap legend Soulja Boy.

 

 

 

 

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Hip Hop

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