Hiphopistan brings South Asian MCs to the Midwest

April 21, 2008

I caught the end of Abstract Vision’s set whose lyrical style and simplistic beats were reminiscent of Wu-tang Clan, not surprising since he hails from Wu’s “Shaolin” Staten Island. MC Kabir, a Boston-based schoolteacher by day who’s the son of Harvard Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, was the most eclectic of the bunch, incorporating live drumming, keyboards, and Indian musical inflections into his performance. Lyrically, some of his messages of empowerment were close to being heavy-handed, but he had just enough cleverness and more than enough energy to compensate. Chee Malabar, a part of underground hip hop duo Himalayan Project which has its roots in San Francisco, had one of those Kanye-esque beats that I can’t knock no matter how ubiquitous they’ve become; a sped up soul/choir sample gets me every time. Lyrics and delivery were quite solemn (but significant) as he was the most political of the bunch. 
Alas, I did not get to see the rest of his performance nor did I get to watch Yogi B and Natchatra,Indian Malaysians who rap in English and Tamil, or DJ Rekha, a female DJ who has been leading the basement bhangra movement in NYC.  But from what I did see, I left excited to see socially conscious Asian American musicians getting their names out, grassroots style.

Check out the Hiphopistan website to read performer bios and to learn more about their mission.


Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.



i have conference-envy...if you're in the city, basement bhangra is tonight (at sob's). falu guest acts