Salima Koroma and Jaeki Cho took a chance with Bad Rap.
In carrying the overlooked narrative of Asian Americans in Hip Hop onto mainstream media’s stage, the Bad Rap crew took on the mantle of representing thousands if not millions of voices. While it’s certainly not an easy burden to throw over one’s shoulder, the team has stepped in with absolute confidence. Awkwafina, Dumbfoundead, Lyricks, and Rekstizzy are refreshingly open about their struggle, leaving viewers with concerns and truths that find their roots in honest emotions rather than an agenda.
Bad Rap unearths these artists’ feelings about navigating the music industry as Asian Americans; highlighting the stereotyping, pigeonholing, and objectification built up by major labels. In a perfect example of showing rather than telling, the film puts several industry figureheads in front of the camera, and picks their brains about the issue. It’s interesting to see some of them express love for Asian American rappers but when asked to drop names, come up short. The film also comments on Asian representation in other avenues of American media, broadening the focus enough that it recognizes discrimination isn’t some isolated phenomena.
What is already a comprehensive story digs further, bringing to light the artists’ family lives and the additional struggle of growing up as a first gen kid. They express contention with wanting to represent the culture of their parents, while trying to prove themselves as “Americans”.
Bad Rap artistically frames the stories of artists living out their dreams, fighting discrimination, and trying to find their voice in the midst of it all. Speaking purely in terms of film; Jaeki Cho, Salima Koroma, and the whole crew do a fantastic job of crafting an emotional and stylish documentary.
art by your homey Arthur Banach
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