I’ve been trying to craft this post for a while, because ever since learning about Far East Movement, I’ve been thinking about them and what they represent in the music industry and what they represent to me as artists.
I’ll start with an admission of guilt. I truly support FM and all their endeavors and I just want to sit and enjoy a piece of Asian American history as they become the first all Asian American act to sit pretty on the top of so many charts, but I’m still not completely won over by their songs. I guess I should look at it from another perspective. I think the guys are great performers, great speakers, and great producers, but I think they’re mediocre lyricists. They’re meant to be performers and they’re meant to be music makers, but I think as writers their lyrics need a little bit of work.
I think FM is the most dynamic group I’ve ever seen perform live and I’ve seen them perform a few times now. Visually they are such a trip and their aesthetic is something I dig so damn much, and I can say as an Asian American — who’s really critical of Asian pop, Asian pop in America, and Asian/Asian American representation in American media — that I almost want to say I feel so blessed that there is finally somebody like me out there who is mainstream and who is succeeding and who are considered “cool.”
Maybe I’m being extra hard on them because I am Asian American and America has gone for so long without a mainstream Asian American music act that when we do finally have someone in that crowd, I want them to be perfect, and I realize this is not fair to FM as a group, because they have gone above and beyond, and why do they need to be perfect, when there are so many popular acts out there who haven’t done half as much as they have, and haven’t worked a fourth of how hard they’ve worked?
It’s like when I, as an Asian American, almost feel shame or embarrassment when I see fellow Asian Americans commit crimes or do bad things, because we’re taught that we have to uphold the model minority status, and not only that, but I feel like for a person of color, every time another one of “us” does something bad, we have to make sure to distance ourselves from them in case all the other Americans think that “all” of us are like “that,” because there’s such an easy tendency to think that all Chinese people are Communists, or all Muslims are terrorists, or all Koreans are descendants of Kim Jong-il.
When the Virginia Tech shooting happening, I’m pretty sure the Korean American community collectively went, “Well, oh, fuck.” When I read the news about Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei’s involvement in Tyler Clementi’s death, I was like, “Mother of shit! Why’d you both have to be Asian?!” Whenever I read the International section in the New York Times and I come across yet another piece on how the Chinese government is being “oppressive” or how there are a trajillion more “bootlegs” being imported from their country, I just smack myself in the face. When yet another terrorist caught happens to be Muslim, I sigh.
So all of this in turn makes me really strict with Asian Americans and the actions they take, and the products they put out. Which is completely unfair, because it’s not anybody’s responsibility, as anybody of color, to have to be responsible of their actions on behalf of an entire race in this country. Yet, that’s what happens. Repeatedly. History teaches us nothing. You, as a POC, do one thing really bad in the eyes of America, and you and other people of your race are also stuck with that for a while. And this has to change. I don’t think I’m selfless enough to be a straight on activist for these kinds of issues, and I admit this flaw, but I can change the way I evaluate the Asian Americans I see in my pop.
So I think about it again — why does Far East need to be good at this, this, this, this, this, and ALL of this in order to be good? They ARE good. They’ve been doing this for a long time, they’re some of the most humble artists I have ever met, listened to, watched. They deserve this as artists. The Asian American community deserves to have them repping us.
I don’t have much to say about the album yet because I plan on listening to it when I get my copy. And I end by saying that if you have, at any point, listened to FM and liked them and the work they’ve done, please go out and support these guys. Their album “Free Wired” was released October 12, and it’s available on Amazon for 9 buckaroos. 9 bucks! You can’t even get a meal and a drink at Chipotle’s for nine dollars. Go go go!