Jin has a new text interview out with the Examiner. It isn’t too long but they cover a lot of ground in just a few questions, with topics ranging on events from most of the past decade. They start with some background on Jin’s rise to the top of BET’s freestyle friday, to his major label debut album, to his cantonese projects and working in Hong Kong. Jin continues to explain how his faith plays a strong part in everything that he does and what he has in store in the near future.
You can read the entire article over at the Examiner or after the break.
As the first Asian rapper to be signed to a major record label, Miami-born Jin Au-Yeung had become synonymous with success, especially to his Chinese hip hop community. After winning an astonishing seven times on BET’s 106th and Park Freestyle Friday, where he battled and defeated MCs, he was inducted as a Hall of Fame Freestyle Champion in 2001.
After that seventh win, Jin announced that he had signed to Ruff Ryders, the prestigious record label that was home to acts as DMX, Eve, and The Lox. He released his single,Learn Chinese, making a bold statement about who he was (“Yeah, I‘m Chinese and what!”). Soon after, his much anticipated debut album, The Rest is History, topped at number fifty-four in the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart.
Unbeknownst to some, Ruff Ryders soon merged their new acts, including Jin, to Virgin Records. Rapper AZ, who was once signed to Virgin, stated in The Source Magazine that the label had a lack of promotion towards their urban artists. It has been said that Jin’s debut album suffered the same dilemma.
By May 2005, Jin decided to “explore other options” as he released the song, I Quit., where he goes on to tell his story, reminisce over some memories, and show his appreciation to the people and fans that were with him through his journey.
He released a couple of freestyles and mixtapes after this single.
And then nothing. It was as if he dropped out of sight, but not out of mind. Ever wonder what happened to this talented rapper? He made moves. Literally.
He moved to Hong Kong after creating a rap album, ABC (American-Born Chinese). The entire album, produced by the Far-East Movement, is in Cantonese, which is a Chinese dialect. ABC was released under Universal Music HK in 2007.
To say the album became a success is a vast understatement. Jin’s Chinese debut album went platinum in just one week. He now holds the record as the largest-selling debut artist in Hong Kong….ever.
Even more so, Jin started an ABC phenomenon. In the Chinese community, an American-born Chinese person, especially a young one, is viewed as less than Chinese. In his first single, ABC, Jin goes on to defend his authenticity by telling those naysayers that he celebrates the same Chinese New Year they do, speaks their language just as fluently as they do, and is viewed as someone with “yellow” skin just as they are.
The second single off this album, Yum Dom Cha, has Jin rapping on a lighter note. He raps about dim sum, a Chinese brunch that serves an assortment of foods such as pork buns and shrimp dumplings. On this single, he also pokes a little good fun at his elders by imitating a few sayings and the manner they fight over paying the bill.
With platinum success in Hong Kong and fans in the States wondering if he will ever come back, Jin has granted an interview to yours truly and here is what he has had to say about his past, present, and future:
First of all, congratulations on your platinum-selling album and all the success you have achieved.
What caused you to create an-all Cantonese album such as ABC? How did this deal with Universal Records HK happen?
When I first started getting into hip hop at the age of 13 and eventually started writing my own raps, never did I imagine that one day I would be releasing music in Cantonese. Even when I first got signed in 2001, one thing that would constantly be brought up by many people was if I actually would ever rap in Cantonese. I always brushed it off nonchalantly because at the time, I was just focused on getting myself together as a new artist.
It wasn’t until 2006 that I finally decided to experiment with the idea of recording an all-Cantonese album. At the time, I was doing the independent thing already so it actually was done in a very organic, carefree setting. I recorded it and we shopped it around in Hong Kong to all the labels. We got some feedback and a bit of interests, but nothing that ever manifested into an actual release.
Fast forward two years later to June of 2008 and we find out that Universal Records HK was interested in distributing that album in Hong Kong. Mind you, this is a project that I recorded two years ago. I came for the album release promotions and have been here ever since, mainly because the momentum has been non-stop since my landing and it has only continued to grow. The Lord if truly blessing me in abundance.
You seemed to have created quite an ABC phenomenon. Your album is dedicated to the young Chinese Americans to inspire them to discover who they are and be comfortable with that. Was that a journey that you had to take as well?
I wouldn’t say the album itself if dedicated to any particular demographic of group of individuals. If anything, it’s just me sharing my twenty-something years of being an ABC (American-Born Chinese). More so, it actually helped me to find myself even more in terms of defining my own identity. I was able to take the two elements of my identity – hip hop and being Asian-American – and merge them together in a very organic fashion.
You now permanently reside in Hong Kong. Tell me about this move and some of your memorable events in this city?
When I first found out I’d be coming to HK in June of 2008 to do album promotions for the ABCrelease, I truly came thinking it would be no longer than three months. [This was] mainly because I was only allowed to stay for 90 days based on my passport. Two years have gone by now and it’s been absolutely amazing. I mean, career-wise, it’s been a non-stop flood of opportunities left and right.
More importantly, I have found a developed a very strong relationship with the Lord. Now that is truly amazing. Never did I imagine in a hundred years that it would be me coming to Hong Kong that would enrich my faith as a Christian.
The most exciting and beautiful aspect is that as long as I continue to surrender all to the Lord, there is no telling what lies around the corner. The main point is, no matter what happens career-wise…I have never been more at peace as an individual.
You are about to release an album with Chinese singer, Hanjin. You guys appear to be a couple of jokesters, as shown in the first released video. Tell me how you met Hanjin and how this album got started.
I first met Hanjin in 2004 when I came to Hong Kong to do promotions for my debut album, The Rest is History [Ruff Ryders]. We literally exchanged about 4 sentences at that time. It was last year around the end of 2009 that he invited me out for lunch and shared his idea for us to do a “shotgun” album together. Ten songs in ten days. I was down for it….and now it’s coming out on July 13, 2010.
You made your first movie appearance as a mechanic named Jimmy in 2 Fast 2 Furious. You just had another movie released in Hong Kong. What was this movie about? Is acting another avenue you will be actively pursuing?
So far in Hong Kong, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to partake in two films. Both of then are Hong Kong produced films. One is a comedy/drama called Split Second Murders. The other is an action/comedy/drama called Gallants.
Through these two films, I have discovered that I truly have a passion for the art of film-making. If given the chance, it is definitely something that I would further explore and want to grow with. Towards the end of July, I will begin working on another film. This is probably the most exciting project I’ve ever had a chance to partake it, film-wise.
Even though you reside in Hong Kong, there are fans in the United States that would like to know if you will be coming back. Any plans to release an album in the States again?
I can’t wait to come back to that United States. For sure, if the opportunity presented itself for me to release music back home, I’d be down for it.
Most importantly, my family is in the states.
Tell me about your future projects and plans?
Aside for the album I am releasing with Hanjin in July called Buy 1 Get 1 Free, I hope to also release a solo Cantonese project if not by the end of the year, then early next year. That would be my second solo Cantonese album.
I would love to release more English material as well. Most importantly, I want to just hear from the Lord and see what He has planned for me.
On a personal tip, did you watch the Chinese cartoon, Ding Dong?
I love that cartoon! A Chinese children’s classic!
What is your personal statement?
Focus on the four L’s – Live, Love, Learn, and Laugh.
Please come visit me at http://www.AyoJin.com