Do you remember back in the early 2000s, the song “Learn Chinese” by Jin the MC was hugely popular? I remember watching the video, and I remember thinking “this is pretty good.” On the heels of my Chinese American Dream article, I thought I would take a moment to discuss this venture by Jin and the Ruff Ryders.
I was discussing Jin’s career with some of my Asian American friends (most of them ABC – American Born Chinese), and the consensus among them was that his approach to dominating the U.S. hip hop scene was wrong. My response to this was, look at us though, over a decade after the song came out, and we are talking about it. I’m not even Chinese, and I know about him and his song.
One of my friends said, “Angel, when Eminem came out, did he just speak about his whiteness, or was he only a rapper, who happened to be white?” In this guy’s view, Jin (or the powers that be) focusing so much on the Asian aspect of his song, took the focus away from him being a rapper, and set it on him being a Chinese rapper for Chinese people. His single “Learn Chinese” went gold in China. However, it didn’t do as well in the U.S.
I’ve heard from my Chinese friends that Jin has done exceptionally well in Hong Kong and all over Asia, but that he couldn’t cut it in the U.S. “Doing that song is what screwed him up in the U.S. It narrowed him down to an Asian market, but not for mass appeal.” What do you guys think about it? Was it a mistake by his management to take this approach? Was it a wise move to attempt to reach a new market, or should they have let him rap, without playing so much to his race?
I don’t know, personally; I think the guy is doing just fine. If he’s successful in Asia, then I’d say that’s a pretty damn big win. Not to mention that many of us, at least here in NYC know about him and his song, “Learn Chinese.” Share your thoughts in the comments!