We start with a bangin’ bit of bhangra from rising UK star Ajay, whose “Funky Dholi” blends the huge pounding racket of Punjabi music with a smoother UK club beat.
Next up is “Tu Meri Jaan Hai,” a sweet love song (as far as I can tell) whose sound derives from the ghazal tradition. The video is shot in and around Fahtepur Sikri, the lavish Mughal capital built by Emperor Akbar and then abandoned for lack of water.
Turning to China, we’ve got the Taiwanese boy band 5566, with a video that appears to be at once a kung-fu movie, a Beijing Olympics ad and the most overproduced promo ever created by the Taiwan tourism council.
And finally, there’s The Notorious MSG, essentially a Chinese-American Sambo act out of New York’s Chinatown. Claiming to be three Chinese restaurant workers, the group is an obvious parody of African-American gangsta rap, and they appear to have faked the murder of former member Funky Buddha, a.k.a. Benson Lam, and even suckered local news station NY1 with the story. (Here’s a Gothamist interview that takes a pretty tongue-in-cheek approach to the issue.) So they’re making fun of both Chinese immigrants and hip-hop, while at the same time making the point that Chinese restaurant work can be hard and even dangerous (in the interview, they mention five specific murders of Chinese delivery guys since 1998 just in the New York area).
Is it racist? I think you’d have to say it is, though how problematically so, I’m just not sure. Is it funny? Yeah. Take a look, see what you think.
Also published on Medium.