A closer look at Asian American night markets: Ramen Burgers & Kimchi Fries calore

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Audrey Magazine:

Ramen burgers, kimchi fries and pho tacos. Stinky tofu. Spiral-cut fried potato skewers sprinkled with a variety of seasonings. And balls — lots and lots of balls: curry fish balls, fried yam balls, takoyaki squid and octopus balls, kimchi fried rice balls with DMZ sauce, gourmet rice balls with honey Sriracha, crispy tofu balls covered with Vietnamese green crisped rice and spicy orange aioli. Truly, the wealth of options at an Asian American night market can be overwhelming for an attendee. After all, we only have one stomach.

Last October’s OC Night Market — the latest extension of the 626 Night Market that has since branched out from Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley (home of the 626 area code) into downtown Los Angeles and Orange County — was filled with over 200 vendors competing with each other for the attention of 60,000 potential customers. Sometimes that involved shouting Korean BBQ menu items from a loudspeaker or flashing eye- catching disco lights; sometimes it took three half-naked Asian girls encouraging onlookers to buy delicious Vietnamese coffee. But the most effective and envied form of attraction was a long line of customers, signifying the food must be worth the wait.

Though many Asian countries have their versions of outdoor food markets — from Singaporean hawker centres to Korean pojangmacha — the term “night market” was popularized in Taiwan, where these nighttime food markets still remain a key attraction for foreign tourists visiting the country, eager to experience the noisy atmosphere, crowded food stalls, mouth-watering smells and cheap eats that you consume on the spot (or while walking in search of your next snack). According to Taiwan’s government information site, food bazaars that operated at night in ancient China were originally called ghost markets, and contemporary-style night markets began to appear in Taiwanese cities during the turn of the century, when the government actively set aside blocks of streets for permanent night markets.

For Asian immigrants and their second-generation children, night markets elicit fond memories. “I always remember visiting the night markets with my family and friends to eat all different kinds of food,” says Jonny Hwang, the founder of 626 Night Market, who was born in Taiwan but immigrated to the U.S. when he was a child. So when his family relocated to Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles with a large Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant population, he wondered, why didn’t they have one?

There are tons of little businesses and good restaurants, but they all have Chinese menus and signage, so it can be very foreign and intimidating to outsiders,” he says. “Because so much good food is hidden, I thought a night market would be a great showcase for the talent and entrepreneurs in the area.

Hwang had heard of a couple successful night markets in Vancouver, as well as previous attempts to start a night market in Southern California that didn’t work out. Assuming it had to do with the challenges working with health departments and government agencies, he and his partners went straight to different cities of the San Gabriel Valley with a night market proposal, figuring that if they had the government backing them, the entire process would be a lot easier.

At first, most of the cities in the area were not interested. “The people running their events recreation departments didn’t even know what night markets were, because they weren’t Asian,” says Hwang. “Which is kind of sad, because they serve a very Asian population. They were used to doing their Lunar New Year Festivals, so they figured they already had an Asian event.”

Pasadena was the only place that was interested, because they happened to have an initiative to attract more Asian businesses to the area. So the very first 626 Night Market was scheduled for April 2012, with plans to shut down a couple streets in Old Town Pasadena for the event.

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Hwang’s team was optimistic that they could get 8,000 attendees, but the Pasadena special events folks, who had years of experience planning signature events like the Tournament of Roses parade, tempered their expectations. As first-time organizers, they’d be lucky to get 500 people to attend, they were told. But come event time, Hwang says the team had mobilized hundreds of thousands of people — many of whom ended up stuck in long lines, trapped in walkways like sardines or unable to even get in.

If we had gotten 8,000 to 10,000 people throughout the day, it probably would have been OK,” says Hwang. “But people were coming from Orange County and Riverside, and all the way from San Diego and Las Vegas.” The surrounding freeways and side streets were packed. A police chopper had to monitor the traffic jams and crowds from above.

Though it seemed like a disaster to attendees (many of whom blasted the event through angry Yelp comments), business-wise, it was a huge success. Vendors were happy because they all sold out, and most importantly, it proved that there was a huge demand for a night market. The 626 team learned a lot of things, and soon, the other cities that had originally shunned their proposal came knocking.

Though 626 Night Market was not the first night market in America — Night Market Philadelphia, for example, though not focused on Asian cuisine, began in 2010 — it has made the biggest impact.

626 are the ones that really started this night market hype,” says Jeff Shimamoto of The Original Ramen Burger, whose ramen-bun burgers have been a fan favorite since his brother Keizo debuted it in New York in the summer of 2013. “Our type of food probably wouldn’t have existed in a regular food market. It’s when the Asian night markets started popping up that we were able to participate.

Shimamoto now has a brick-and-mortar of sorts, offering The Original Ramen Burger at a take-out window in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Tonight, he’s hanging out at the adjacent Lock and Key bar with his fellow night market veteran friends, Phillip and Carol Kwan of Mama Musubi (who specialize in a gourmet version of onigiri rice balls, a popular Japanese snack) and Matthew Hui of Fluff Ice (a Taiwanese-inspired snowflake ice that takes flavored ice blocks and shaves them into what they call “frozen cotton candy”). They’re celebrating the end of another busy and successful night market season.

Since 626 debuted, night markets have opened up in other areas of Southern California, like Koreatown and Little Saigon in Westminster. Hwang himself was contacted for advice or collaboration requests from groups who wanted to start their own night markets in San Jose, San Diego and St. Paul. There are now night markets in Seattle, Honolulu and New York, and the list goes on. Even the team behind Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge 1st Thursdays Night Market, who Hwang remembers jokingly called themselves “the white night market,” wanted in on the action. Now, you might be thinking, isn’t a Caucasian night market just … a fair? Like every single county fair in America? But this was just an indication of how the term “night market” was catching on. It had looped back into the mainstream.

Benjamin Kang, one of the organizers of the KTOWN Night Market and the MPK Night Market in Monterey Park, California (both debuted in 2014), believes it’s a good time for night markets because Asian culture is trending more than it ever has in America. “All my white friends want to come to Koreatown,” he says, laughing, citing the Koreatown episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown, as well as the numerous Asian American chefs on mainstream TV cooking shows. “They’re always asking me what the best Chinese or Japanese restaurants are in L.A.”

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I think the food industry revolves around the Asian population,” says Hui of Fluff Ice. “When all the Asian people think it’s cool, then the non-Asians flock to it. Because all the foodies on Yelp are Asian girls named Grace or Nancy.” He laughs. “The Yelp elite start reviewing all these places, and they become the definitive source.”

While 626 Night Market also had creative entertainment to go along with the food — Asian American performers, live art battles, eating competitions and the unveiling of the new Guinness World Record for the largest cup of boba milk tea — KTOWN Night Market made use of their Korean American showbiz connections, bringing together high-profile food celebrities, like the guys behind Seoul Sausage Company, who won Season 3 of the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, as well as musicians like rappers Dumbfoundead and Shin-B. Six months later, KTOWN Night Market also hosted a Halloween Food Fest, where there were costume contests and carnival rides.

“Night markets in Asia are open all the time, so they don’t make a festival out of it,” says Shimamoto. “But here, they turn it into a big event, and that’s what makes it fun. We have concerts and beer gardens. And that’s why we get so many people concentrated at one time.”

The Kwans launched Mama Musubi at the first 626 Night Market in 2012. The brother-and-sister duo wanted to test the market and see what people thought about fresh Japanese rice balls. Would people get their gourmet version — with 24-hour braised Berkshire pork belly — or would they assume it was the same as the refrigerated kinds you can get at Mitsuwa supermarkets? Turns out, there was excitement for rice balls not only in the night markets but in non-Asian markets like the Altadena Farmer’s Market, where they are regulars. But though they work these markets and also cater, their ultimate goal is to launch their own store.

Similarly, The Original Ramen Burger started participating in night markets in Los Angeles because California foodies were asking for it. They do pretty well, but they see night markets as a transition into eventually running four to five restaurant franchises.

There are two crowds of vendors at the night market,” says Phillip Kwan. “Vendors like us who have long-term visions of opening up brick-and-mortars. And others that make a comfortable living for themselves doing festival-type events.”

Some vendors may have a full-time job on the side. Others might be there just for fun. “On the last day of the night market, there were these 15 Vietnamese ladies from Orange County [in the booth next to us],” remembers Shimamoto. “They showed up four hours before everybody else, and they were all perky and ready to go with all their juices. And they said, ‘We all go to the same church, and we decided we were going to come out here and try and sell some lemonade!’” He laughs. “And that’s great! Maybe they’re just doing it once a month for a little money. Or maybe they could become the next Mrs. Fields Cookies. Either way, they were just so happy to be there.”

Hwang encourages it all. “In the beginning, most of our vendors had stores, but we really encourage the ones who don’t,” he says. “It’s such a good platform for people to try new ideas for cheap. Just do it for one weekend. If it’s good and you like it, then do it again. Those are the types of food you can’t eat anywhere else. You have to go to our event to find them.”

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Phil and I think that the model for starting a restaurant is going to start changing,” says Shimamoto. “In Los Angeles, you see a lot of restaurants come and go. But [working the night markets] is a way you lower your overhead and costs, and it’s a great way to get some exposure while retaining flexibility to work on other things, like food trucks or developing your brick-and-mortar.”

Even Fluff Ice, which already had a store in Monterey Park when 626 first opened, found that attending night markets is just a good way to network, advertise and grow your business. “There’s just so many layers of income you can get with a business like this, whether it’s night markets, school fundraisers or Hollywood catering,” says Hui, who has catered for How I Met Your Mother, Parks & Recreation, The Office and the upcoming film Paranormal Activity 5. They now have four locations in Southern California.

But these Asian American night markets aren’t without its skeptics. In Taiwan, you go to the night market because you’re craving certain foods, whether it be oyster pancakes, ba-wan (Taiwanese meatballs wrapped in gelatinous dough) or aiyu jelly drinks. You’re also expecting a certain atmosphere — makeshift stalls where you see and smell the food being prepared right in front of you — and a certain experience, a.k.a. cheap stuff, whether it be food, shopping or games.

In the beginning, that was the source of some of the disappointment for night market goers in America. It didn’t look right — health codes in the U.S. require covered canopies so it looked like a typical fair. It’s not cheap: there’s usually a cover charge of $5 to $10 just to get in, and everything, even a tiny plate, usually costs at least $5 (which adds up!). And there was a random mix of foods, both Asian and non-Asian, that weren’t necessarily what you thought of as “street food.” (One vendor at a recent KTOWN Night Market was serving up 100 percent grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised Australian bone-in lamb.)

But I think that’s what makes us different in a good way,” says Hwang. “If you think about the night markets in Asia, it’s all the same foods. We always get a good amount of vendors that are new or tweaking their menu, and it’s exciting to see people experimenting with new things — whether it’s fusion foods like the ramen burger, pho tacos and new types of guabao [Taiwanese pork belly buns] — or if they’re bringing in traditional stuff that we never had before, like yam balls and chicken sausages. It’s a competitive marketplace, so you have to be creative. Don’t do the usual things, or if you do, figure out how you can do it differently.”

You can’t be stale,” agrees Carol Kwan, who recently collaborated with the Shimamoto brothers to create a one-month-only specialty mash-up: the Mama Musubi 24-hour Pork Belly Ramen Burger. “It’s the same even if you’re in a restaurant. You have to innovate and keep creating something new to keep people coming.”

That said, for every food item that’s worth waiting for in the night market lines, there are many, many more that are underwhelming and overpriced. It’s also hard to tell whether something is innovative or just gimmicky, and with so many copycat renditions of almost the same idea (there’s a reason Ramen Burger changed its name to The Original Ramen Burger), it’s tempting to assume the latter.

But one can only hope that the truly tasty, fusion or not, rises to the top — that the prevalence of night markets are giving those gems a place to grow and a community of like-minded food fans a place to gather.

One of the major pluses [of the night markets] is how it impacts the current and hopefully the next generation of Asian Americans,” says Christine Chiao, a food writer who’s contributed to LA Weekly and Sunset. “A regular or seasonal night market can be a platform for more than just the vendors. It can become a channel, too, for young Asian American attendees to seek and express their identity.”

So did Hwang ever imagine that the 626 Night Market he created would become such a cultural touchstone?

Not really,” he says. “At first I really did it for fun, as a side thing, because I knew it’d be something that people would enjoy. I never thought I’d end up working full time to produce night markets.” He laughs. “Who goes to college thinking that? It’s surreal.”



Creative Spotlight: Scott “CHOPS” Jung


CHOPS is an Asian American hip hop producer, rapper and former member of the Asian American Hip-Hop group, the Mountain Brothers. He is a very busy guy nowadays supporting Haiyan relief and successfully funded Kickstarter projects of his own. Over his illustrous career, CHOPS has established a name for himself as a producer, creating tracks for artists such as Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and Kanye West and the popular song “The Creep” by The Lonely Island. His latest project, Strength in Numbers, is a collaboration with more than 30 Asian and Asian-American artists, many who we have featured on this very site. Read below for the full Q&A…

I’m not claiming to be familiar with all the appearances on the album, but I have interviewed Baiyu and Connie Lim and a few of the Emcees featured. What I can say is they are all very eclectic artists from one another. How did you form a synergy making sure all these people came together to make a cohesive record?

CHOPS: It is pretty diverse, that’s one of the main reasons for doing the Strength In NUMBERS project. There’s so many different styles of artists involved who are dope, who I wanted the chance to work with. First because I’m a fan, and wanted to help showcase everybody’s skills. Plus I wanted to show my ability and range production-wise too. To me it feels eclectic but cohesive at the same time. Creatively it was fun having a mix of songs and artists, and even in some cases getting people together who hadn’t worked together yet, like Paul Kim and Dumbfoundead, or Joanlee and Decipher.

If your Kickstarter project is any indication, there can be a lot of questions I can raise from it.

CHOPS: Luckily I’m answering this after the end of the Kickstarter, and it did fund, but it was rough there for awhile. Felt like I was ready to quit a few times. But the amazing thing about this project, is getting to connect with folks who believe in what we’re doing. There’s a lot of people who helped bigtime. They made the Kickstarter succeed, and continue to make the project bigger, with much more impact. The real goal of the project isn’t a monetary goal, and monetarily this project is not a success for me compared to other stuff I do, especially considering the time put into it, it’s been over two years. But everything else about the project makes it a total success so far, the support has been amazing. We’re working on more music videos, and other stuff to help get the word out. I want to make sure people get to hear the music, whether they support via iTunes or Amazon, or whether they just pass it around. Realistically if people share this music, even without kicking in, it’s a good thing. Musicians these days, especially Asian American ones, are not fighting piracy. We’re fighting obscurity.

So, you don’t think there is a lack of community in the Asian/Asian-American music industry? Perhaps a lack of trust or support between labels and Asian artists?

CHOPS: I think there’s little to no support from mainstream outlets for anybody not yet in the mainstream, which means having to go grassroots with everything, and build up our own support. This is something the artists on the project have been doing for years. I wanted to try and join forces with everybody and see what could happen with everybody helping each other a little. We’ve been getting good response so far, and that feels good, feels like progress.

Rhymefest had a line where he addressed his indie projects not getting more shine due to his connections: “Brush up on your math skills / Nothin plus zip equals zero; he couldn’t relate / That n_gga ain’t been broke since “H to the Izzo“. Is this somewhat true? With all your connections with Kanye, Jeezy, Bun and Wayne, why do you feel its still an uphill climb sometimes?

CHOPS: It is somewhat true, you need opportunities to get success, and you need success to get opportunities. To the industry, I’m just one of a zillion mofos who make beats. I’m fortunate to get to do successful work with big artists now and then, but I’m at a point in life where I’d like some of my work to mean something, on a personal level. I want it to be a little deeper than just “I did a beat for this famous person.” That’s a big reason for the Strength In NUMBERS project. People say my group Mountain Brothers played a part in starting something, and I want to be part of helping give another push.

What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?

CHOPS: I’m gonna show my age with some of these, and I’m terrible at “best of” lists, I always remember stuff after. Some favorites are Hard Boiled, Young & Dangerous, The Raid: Redemption,Monga, SPL, and Miike’s Dead or Alive. I’ll definitely check your site to find out good movies to watch!

I remember talking to Mike B and Decipher and I asked them why all their LP’s guests appearances were just Asian artists, whether it was an project specifically to raise up Asians or just collaborating with friends. They choose the latter but your latest project says you wanted Asians only. What is the reasoning behind this?

CHOPS: That’s a great question. The reason for me wanting Asians only for this project, is because I’ve spent most of my career not working with Asians. When I was a lot younger I dreamed about having a situation where I’d get to work with great Asian artists. But for a ton of different reasons, that didn’t happen.Until now that is.

You have a no-sample production style. I don’t need to tell you that in modern beat-making that is rare. Why did you choose to mold that style?

CHOPS: Sample-free beats are more popular now than when I started. I was kind of an oddball back then, for not sampling. But when I was learning I was really influenced by groups like The Roots, who use live instruments. I always loved the programmed synth and drum machine stuff too. I’ve had some music training, so playing and programming instruments makes it easier for me to get ideas across than sampling somebody else’s work. Plus, business-wise if you sample, there’s no royalties, which would kill me because I live off royalties.

You’re a busy man, aside from the Strength in Numbers, what can fans expect from you into 2014?

CHOPS: I’ve actually been working on this project for so long I kinda got tunnel vision and didn’t do much else for awhile, so I’m just getting back in motion. I have some collab projects where I’m doing production and getting on the mic, with a couple of my favorite artists from the West coast and down South. I don’t like giving too many details before the eggs are hatched, but we’re working. I’m always making solo music, but that’s usually for stuff like placement on TV shows, I never really put that stuff out but I’m thinking about doing some of that too. And we’re planning collab projects, or at least songs, where I do some more tracks with some of the Strength In NUMBERS artists. That’s the other great thing about the project, finding cool artists who click and want to do more work together.

Looking through the ‘Strength in Numbers’ list of Asian artists, it’s really crazy! They’re all talented but nobody on radio, TV or magazine is showing them love. Why do you think that is? Does it go BEYOND their ethnicity?

CHOPS: I think regardless of race or ethnicity, the public basically ignores you until you do something that grabs some attention. Plus, you’re not getting a lot of love from radio, TV, and print unless you have “the machine” backing you. And a lot of people in the mainstream music biz are less likely to stick their necks out for somebody or something unproven. And of course, we’re unproven for the most part. The thing is though, times are changing and you don’t need radio, TV, or magazines to get heard and seen. More importantly, fans don’t need radio, TV, or magazines to find great music and great artists.

Lastly, any advice for any struggling producers out there?

CHOPS: This is going to sound harsh but it’s the advice I always give. Don’t do it. Especially as a job. Everybody and their mom makes beats, now that anybody can get a half decent laptop and a cracked copy of Fruity Loops or whatever. The supply is insanely high, and demand is lower than ever. That ratio won’t improve as time goes on. The odds are really fucked up. In all likelihood, you won’t be able to make a living from it. BUT, if you love it so much that there’s no choice but to constantly continue to learn, continue to improve, continue to connect with people, continue to seek ways to make your passion work for you, etc. etc. etc…. if you have the attitude that nothing can keep you from it, and the actions to back it up, you might just do ok. I’ve been doing this as my living for about 15 years now and I’m still working on all that stuff, trying to get where I’m going.


Want to know more about the project or check out the other artists on the track? Follow CHOPS’ cookie crumb trail below:


List of artists on ‘Strength in Numbers’:

Ann One (LA), Baiyu (NYC), Bambu (LA), Catzie of Yellow Rage (PHL), Connie Lim (LA), Decipher (PHL), DJ Bonics (PHL/PGH), DJ Neil Armstrong (NYC), DJ Roli Rho (NYC),Dumbfoundead (LA), El Gambina (NJ), Erika David (Bay Area), Hopie (SF), Hoya (NYC), J-Key (NYC), Joanlee (LBC), Kiwi (LA), Lil Crazed (MN), Matt Cab (Tokyo), Mic Barz (ATL), Mountain Brothers (PHL), Nikko Dator (LV), Paul Kim (LA), Prometheus Brown (SEA), Rekstizzy (NYC), Rocky Rivera (SF), Ruby Ibarra (Bay Area), Tasha aka Yoonmirae (Korea), Thai (PDX), Tiger JK (Korea), Timothy Flu (ATL), Verbal of M-Flo / Teriyaki Boyz (Tokyo), and Yellow Boyz (ATL)

Check out this link:

Creative Spotlight: Scott “CHOPS” Jung


SPAM N EGGS: Party thrown by TokiMonsta, Dumbfoundead and Far East Movement in L.A. K-Town


In L.A.? Head down to Koreatown to check out SPAM N EGGS? TokiMonsta, Dumbfoundead and Far East Movement have joined forces to throw an epic party in KTown next week, with sets by Antiserum, Two Fresh, Rell the Soundbender, ESTA and special guests. It’s happening Thursday, November 21 at VIBE in Koreatown, Los Angeles.

Date: 11/21 THURSDAY from 9 P – 2 A
City: Los Angeles
Venue: VIBE
Address: 721 S Western Ave Los Angeles, CA 90005
Ages: 18+ to enter, 21+ to drink

General Admission: FREE before 10:30 pm $10 after 10:30 pm

Express Entry if you buy presale ticket online $10.

BOTTLES SPECIAL: 2 bottles for $300 before 10:30 pm.

$200 per bottle after 10:30 pm.

Website: wespamneggs.com

Sets by: Antiserum, Two Fresh, Rell the Soundbender, ESTA, and Special Guests!

Check out this link:



Buzzfeed: 21 Asian American Musicians You Need To Get Behind Right Now


Team-Yellow friend and supporter, CHOPS, a prominent producer behind the sounds of Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Talib Kweli, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to put talented Asian American musicians on the mainstream map.

Once a musician himself (as part of Mountain Brothers, the first Asian American act to be signed to a major label), Chops identifies with “artists today who go through many of the things my group did, overcoming the same obstacles, same struggles, pushing forward, and going beyond.

Here is just a small sampling of dope acts he believes you need to be paying attention to:

1. Dumbfoundead


Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Los Angeles
CHOPS says: Battle champ, tons of stripes, and increasingly great music. Super prolific output, tremendous grind. Listen here.

2. Baiyu2

Who: Singer
Reppin’: NYC
CHOPS says: Baiyu’s talent, music, videos, and drive put a lot of major label artists to shame. Tremendous vocalist and writer. Listen here.

3. Prometheus Brown3

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Seattle
CHOPS says: Prometheus has a laidback way about him on record and in person that draws people in. His fans ride for him. Listen here.

4. Erika David4

Who: Singer
Reppin’: Bay Area
CHOPS says: Singer with dope pop R&B vibe, it’s been a while since she’s released new original music but the fans are waiting for it. Listen here.

5. Bambu5

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Los Angeles
CHOPS says: Bam speaks on important things, stuff that matters, and backs what he says with action. Listen here.

6. Ann One6

Who: Singer
Reppin’: Los Angeles
CHOPS says: She has songs from the mid-2000s that singers in Korea sing in idol competitions, the way kids sing Mariah, Whitney, or Christina songs here. Listen here.

7. Connie Lim7

Who: Singer
Reppin’: Los Angeles
CHOPS says: Connie’s voice ranges from a whisper to a stadium belt. Influences ranging from Sarah MacLachlan to Bjork to Ellie Goulding to Florence and the Machine. Listen here.

8. DJ Bonics8

Who: Hip Hop Deejay
Reppin’: Philly
CHOPS says: Bonics spins on the biggest station in Philly when he’s not on tour with Wiz Khalifa. He has a lot in the works, and he’ll be expanding even more. Watch him go in with DJ Craze.

9. DJ Neil Armstrong9

Who: Hip Hop Deejay
Reppin’: NYC
CHOPS says: Respected mixtape, club, and show DJ, Neil has toured and performed with numerous big artists including Jay-Z. Check out a day in the life.

10. Hopie10

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: San Francisco
CHOPS says: Creative and quirky flow with a mix of cool, fire, and book-smarts (she has a law degree!). Listen here.

11. Joanlee11

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Long Beach
CHOPS says: Joanlee’s been mostly under the radar, building with some heavyweights and strengthening his craft, which is gonna pay off nicely. Listen here.

12. Lil Crazed12

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Minnesota
CHOPS says: He’s the type of artist girls get a tattoo of (literally, it’s happened). But don’t let that fool you, Crazed raps his ass off too. Listen here.

13. Matt Cab13

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Tokyo
CHOPS says: Now based in Tokyo, Matt cruises the same highway as Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, and the like, but has his own lane. Listen here.

14. Nikko Dator14

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Las Vegas
CHOPS says: Youthful energy, swag rapper vibe but with actual strong rhyme ability, like a Drake or Wayne.
Listen here.

15. Paul Kim15

Who: Singer
Reppin’: Los Angeles
CHOPS says: Modern singer with roots going back to the likes of Donnie Hathaway, I picture him like a John Legend or Miguel, blending different sounds but with a solid soul foundation. Listen here.

16. Rekstizzy16

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: NYC
CHOPS says: The wild card, he’s kind of like our very own ODB mixed with a touch of Kanye. Rek is super funny, crazy, unique, and plays around with a lot of styles musically. Listen here.

17. Tasha AKA Yoon Mi Rae17

Who: Singer/Rapper
Reppin’: Korea
CHOPS says: She stays attacking the charts in Korea, rapping and singing on anything from dance joints to straight hip-hop, from club bangers to ballads. Listen here.

18. Thai18

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Portland
CHOPS says: Veteran from the 454 Life Entertainment stable, Thai has a street sensibility, harder edged flow, and engaging delivery. Listen here.

19. Tiger JK19

Who: Singer/Rapper
Reppin’: Korea
CHOPS says: JK and Tasha are kind of like the Jay and Beyonce of Korea. Huge respect, longevity, and music that somehow keeps getting even better with each release. Listen here.

20. Timothy Flu20

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Atlanta
CHOPS says: One of the least known artists on the project right now, but his Southern drawl, easy cadence, belie wordplay and lyricism will change that. Listen here.

21. VERBAL of M-Flo and Teriyaki Boyz21

Who: Rapper
Reppin’: Tokyo
CHOPS says: Verbal has a stellar career filled with super-creative output, highly respected and successful at the same time, which is so hard to achieve. You’ve heard the band before.

Check out this link:

21 Asian American Musicians You Need To Get Behind Right Now


Jonathan Park a.k.a. Dumbfoundead’s YouTube series: “Run DMZ”

LA-based rapper Jonathan Park, better known by his stage name Dumbfoundead, has spent the majority of 2013 touring the United States and Europe, but that hasn’t slowed down his most recent project. Park’s new web series “Run DMZ” premiered in June.

The series takes place in a neighborhood based on Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Park’s character helps run a small Korean barbecue restaurant with his family when one day a large chain from North Koreatown, Ken Jong’s Grill, moves across the street and tries to buy his business. Uncooperative, Park’s restaurant is ransacked by Ken Jong’s agents, setting off a chain of revenge, romance, and betrayal.

The series is part of YouTube’s push for longer-form original content. Produced by Steel Wool Media for the LOUD YouTube Network backed by former NBC Head of Programming Ben Silverman, Run DMZ is a proof of concept hoping to make a splash in a scene where the most popular channels almost take pride in amateurishness.