When Asian-American rapper Mc Jin won a freestyle rap battle in 2001, not only did he earned himself a new title, but also challenged the world’s perception on the hip hop culture. With more than 2.5 million hits on YouTube, Jin proved to the world that rapping is no longer exclusive to African-Americans.
On the same year, he became the first East Asian and Chinese solo rapper signed to a major record label.
Eleven years later, upon his return to America after producing Chinese rap songs in Hong Kong, while Jin still feels honor and flattered about the title, he takes a step back to think about the meaning of the legacy.
“More important are what has accomplished and what impact was made,” Jin said.
Fifteen years ago when Jin first started rapping in public, there was a preconceive notion that rapping, in tradition, was not a field for Asian-Americans.
“I am never shy about my ethnicity,” Jin said. “But it has propelled me into the spotlight as much as it kind of hindered me sometimes. There were biases and resistance, but it also made me unique.”
Since his first exposure to rap music from MTV and radio at the age of 13, Jin has turned his hobby into a talent, and furthermore, a career.
“It (rap music) seemed very fitting for my personality, especially when I was around 15 and have just picked up rapping,” Jin said. “It seems very free to me.”
Jin described his rapping journey as a three-step process.
“First it was an interest and a fascination, then it became a passion, and then it became something I really want to dedicate my life to,” said the 30-year-old rapper.
More than anything, when it comes to making music, Jin puts weight on the message it sends than the fame it represents. His inspiration comes from the most genuine thing—life.
“As long as there is life, there is an inspiration,” Jin said.
From “Learn Chinese”, an English song which he wrote in 2003, to “Act now”, a Cantonese song he performed with Hong Kong Chief Executive in 2010, Jin uses his songs to express what he cares at different stages of his life.
Expecting a child in June with his wife Carol, Jin aims to reconnect with the hip hop scene in America this year. One of the first public events he will attend after his arrival is “SingCon 2012” hosted by the Hong Kong Student Association of the University of Washington.
“I haven’t been to Seattle for many years and I have always found it to be a very fascinating and unique city,” Jin said. “Combined with the fact that I’m coming for SingCon where there are a lot of talented individuals wanting to showcase their different skills and things they enjoy, I’m so supportive of that and I love that.”
When being asked for advice he would give to aspiring artists in the country, he pointed out two key elements: strong foundation and firm belief.
“Whatever they do, they have to believe in it,” he said. In fact, they need to believe in it so much that it doesn’t even matter what I think, what the judges think.”
Jin also highlighted the importance of timing and “participating in SingCon itself is an opportunity”.
If he was one of the contestants, instead of thinking about where the competition would lead, he would emphasize on the performing experience.
Jin said, “When an opportunity presents itself, how do you make the most use out of it?”