Asian Americans don’t have much of representation in music, and so when I see an Asian-American artist whose music I like, I become easily obsessed about everything they are and everything they make. I mean, it’s pure Asian American pride. Even more so, there are very few Asian Americans in hip hop and so I want to dedicate my fifth post to one of my favorite artists, Riz MC or Riz Ahmed.
Funnily enough, I first listened to Riz MC’s collaboration album Cashmere made by him and fellow Asian American rapper Heems, or as they called themselves, the Swet Shop Boys, rather than his older solo album. This album made me fall in love with Riz MC. The album is an eclectic juxtaposition of South Asian inspired music and loaded rap that discusses what it is like to be brown in Western countries. Discrimination against Asian Americans, specifically people of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent is very real and seeing it represented and aired in a very public and creative way is very empowering. My favorite songs include “T5” which discusses TSA targeting, “Shottin'” which discusses the anti-Muslim sentiment, and Din-e-llahi which is a clever and beautiful discussion of identity.
This album continues to bring about relevant points every time it’s listened through and with the current political climate, the album becomes even more significant. After listening to Riz MC’s collaboration album, I became curious into his previous solo work. Riz MC’s Englistan is a work of art, weaving together a strong statement about the importance and damaging aspects of South Asian culture and bigotry with eloquent, tasteful rap. The album also involves spoken word with “I Ain’t Even Bein Racist But” meshing together a statement about relations between South Asian culture and the West, specifically in Great Britain.
Outside of music, Riz MC otherwise known as Riz Ahmed is a multi-talented individual. He is a gifted actor, nominated and winning several prestigious awards as well as a passionate activist. He is truly a Renaissance man and it is inspiring to see someone as an Asian American that represents you in popular media.
While Riz MC’s music is quite offbeat and unique, it offers a valid and valuable perspective about the challenges of being brown in a Western country juxtaposed with a personal identity discussion. If you’re looking for something different– another minority experience– within a special style of eloquent rap, take a listen to anything by Riz MC.
I know that as a fellow Asian American, I will continue to support Riz MC in all of his ventures proudly.