Asian-Americans have long struggled for representation in pop culture, but lately it seems like there's a renaissance goin' on. There's the two kids on Glee, Ken Jeong and Aziz Ansari are on TV and movies, and every other taco truck has an Asian theme.
But we haven't always been this cool and connected, most of all in pop music. Asian-Americans have played bit parts in pop music. We have our share of cult figures, but pop crossover success has been elusive.
There is a question in Asian-American studies classes: who is the Asian Jesse Jackson? Well, who is the Asian Michael Jackson? The closest we had to a pop superstar in the past decade was Apl. D. Ap from Black Eyed Peas, or Chad Hugo from N.E.R.D. Once at an N.E.R.D. show, I saw a large sign that said: "HeY Chad! I'm Filipino too!" If that's not a cry for recognition, what is?
Enter the Far East Movement. If you have teenagers you may already know the song "Like a G6". It's an electro-hip-hop tune with a sick bassline. The G6 in question refers to a private jet, a metaphor for heights of ecstasy. On the surface, "Like a G6" is a disposable pop tune, what with its descriptions of popping bottles in VIP and sober girls acting drunk, but for Asian-Americans, it's an unexpected watershed moment.
The Far East Movement is a quartet of Asian-Americans from LA's Koreatown. Last week, the song hit the iTunes and Billboard #1 spot. As a 44-year-old Japanese American, I'm loving this moment. It's enough to make the activist in me shed tears of joy. Here are four Asian-Americans from K-town, young men linked to the community, who've played Asian heritage festivals, totally taking over. Even the name Far East Movement sounds like it could have been the name of some radical Asian power zine back in the day.