MORE Jero ジェロ

 

JERO - English language introduction  -  from Reuters.





嘘泣き

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TASHA – The Best Female Blasian Rapper II: Yoon MiRae “T” (티) 윤미래 : Biracial expressions II

Photo courtesy of SookYeong at wordpress

More  “T” music – as she is also known in the global R&B world, and her former name “TASHA.”

Her name is YOON MI RAE.

She’s not just a rapper.  She encompasses R&B and balladry.  She’s one of the best anywhere. She is the undisputed queen of Korean Black music.

There have been others like her in the past, in East Asia and Southeast Asia, who have been shunned and their lights never shone to the world.  Now that the world seems readier, in many ways, while in some nations, including in Japan and other countries it is still slow and the repressed expressions of life and creativity live side-by-side.  The empowering of “T” into the limelight is a path of empowerment.  At the same time, it continues the sequestering of difference into entertainment and sports, which seems to now be the globally accepted places/spaces where multi-racial and bi-racial persons of Asian and/or black descent, can shine more.  Even as there is a ‘shining,’ I have found in my own life and in talking to other blasians, the road is still steep.  Endurance and commitment have to be nurtured, as many of the sub-cultures of identity and color and difference, do not completely accept, if at all.  The glittering lights should not be seen a totally happy place, a place where we can say “oh now they’re fine, those poor people who have endured so much–now they can be somebody…”  We can think that people have ‘found their paths’ but how much of that ‘path’ is a cornering, an act of survival?  It is most certainly a freedom.  But is freedom only freedom?  What I point to is that freedom is small in relation to the spaces that are closed and which that ‘path’ is really a space that the oppressions don’t cover.  It is a small escape hatch, if you will, while most of the dominant spaces still remain closed.  It LETS DOMINANT SOCIETY off, disguising itself as:  ‘see….we’re a ‘free and democratic society–we let EVERYONE find their path.”   Is it THAT INDIVIDUAL’s path?  In some ways, it was chosen by the structure of society FOR THEM/ for US.  Freedom is most often, and increasingly and globally, an un-freedom created by dominant society.

How?  What restrictions do the open spaces cover?  How does this, then, assuage those who feel powerless or ignorant, to do much to intervene into the racist structures of our society.  Music is an outlet and a place for survival, for many.  But other spaces may close.  And perhaps others may open.

At the same time…….as I have hinted at in my earlier post on ‘MULTI-RACIAL….Transnational Elitisms??” — it can also become a cover for assimilation into the middle class and the globalization of sameness and comfort and safety.  It is a razor’s edge.  Difference will then be subsumed under ‘YOU need to make it into the middle class–LOOK! I’ve done it.  You have NOT arrived until you do it like I do….”

This is so often what it looks like.  It’s painful.  It is still a way of condescending against different lives and also classism.  We must alleviate the fissures of class and domination, yet at the same time, not wish other communities and cultures to assimilate.

As one may become more visible, perhaps through openings in entertainment or sports, one then enters a whole other set of multiple oppressions to work on.  It can become a choice.  It is — SAD, enRAGING, and also a space for us to become privileged in our knowledge and resource-amassing– to struggle for empowerment and justice in the world.  Having ARRIVED into middle-class positions, who want and have some access to higher elite resources and comforts, what do we do with it?  Do we then, point to the lower again and become that which assimilates, condescends, wanting everything to be homogenized, the same, constricted, small, superior?

“T” or Tasha, invites us to enter into the boardroom of a mass society of marginalized and brutalized underclasses who are formed by those who have been born into their ‘natural’ class and use it to wield the power of assimilation and superiority –mostly through being unaware. It is not entirely only about RACE.  It is also about gender.  As a female and as bi-racial, and as dark-skinned, she has endured the lines through which dominance is activated in mainstream lives across the world.   “T” invites us, first, to be conscious of that life.

If we hear the words, we can hear YOUR voice, no matter how wealthy or privileged.  The whole world has internalized oppression.  Even as we move up in socio-economic class, we can perhaps remember that there is so much within our lives and selves we GIVE UP and destroy in ORDER TO ARRIVE at that position.   YES, we are all under the system.  Those, like myself and T, have struggled in the racially-constructed oppressions.  Perhaps even as socio-economically determined, adding another slew of intensities.   Being sensitive in listening……we hope that this music does what it wants to do—–to NOT JUST understand an individual’s pain, but that individual pain most often comes from SOCIALLY-CONSTRUCTED and AGREED UPON and often INVISIBLE forms of oppression.  And often not so invisible but invisible when we are too busy with our own individual concerns and not with policies, institutions and perceptions that hold it in place, even as individuals may become aware of how their own lives have been affected.  How about an understanding of how most of us need to fight against, and transform all the myriad oppressions that make us slaves to them while we try to gain access to privileges.

Racism and sexism, heterosexism and classism, anti-semitism, able-ism and other isms are alive everywhere.  “T” is asking for us to listen and FEEL something that we must fight together.

Blorean, Blasian, Korean, Black-American, African-American– sings of the vicissitudes of being biracial/multiracial in societies that shun and legitimate the shunning, through the silence of the majority–thus legitimizing and upholding the racist violence–including exclusion and physical and emotional abuse and brutality of the direct perpetrators.  The loneliness and the will to survive go hand-in-hand– tremendous obstacles not understood by most.  This torture applies to the various exclusions and the brutality of majorities and minorities within our own and against the ‘other’ in our world.  The effects come to song.

I absolutely love this song “Memories” with lyrics below the video.  It is mixed English and Korean.   You can get an idea of her vocal abilities and style.  T’s got it going on!

I also include more video songs and an INTERVIEW in ENGLISH below.

WONDER WOMAN –  Here ‘T’ sings/raps about female empowerment !!   She says:  “Dem wonder, Dem wonderin’ but I’m nappy-headed illegal Rasta.  YEAH!!

AS TIME GOES BY –  a love-song ballad sung in English

TO MY LOVE – R&B ballad sung in Korean

INTERVIEW IN ENGLISH from 2002

EXCERPT from ‘MONSTER’ in English:

Pushim – female ‘Japanese’ reggae/r&b star

Pushim, is of Korean ancestry and Japanese national.  She is the top female Japanese reggae/R&B/rap & hip-hop star.  Her birth name is Pak Pushin.  As one may know, people of Korean ancestry have had a history of severe repression and invisibility in Japanese society.  Many Koreans changed their names two to four generations ago in order to try and make it easier to navigate through jobs, finding housing, civil rights, etc. in Japan.  There are many Koreans in Japan, like many oppressed peoples in many nations today around the world, who do not know they have Korean ancestry.  Their parents had to have their children survive.  Pak was lucky.  Her family did not make her forget, although this came with hardships.  It is much better nowadays, for Japanese of Korean ancestry, although prejudices still exist.

Pushim is my favorite and is considered the best of the ‘black’ singers in Japan.

The First video is a cover of Carol King’s big hit ‘It’s Too Late.’  She does it in smooth R&B style with a few word changes.

The second is a joyful song about being an empowered woman: “My Name is…”  Lyrics below.

All Copyright & Credit goes to Ki/oon Records / NeOSITE DISCS and Space Shower TV (2007)


恋なんてもうしない」,ウソの誓い  [I make a fake promise like: I’m not gonna love anymore]
夢を求め果てしない戦い  [It’s a battle where there’s no end to chasing dreams]
雨をよけて守りたいハイヒールとプライド  [To bypass the rain and protect my high-heels and pride]
My name is… “My name is”
My name is woman

たったひとつの出会いから予期せぬ運命に  [To a life that can’t escape from the first meeting]
胸を痛めたり優しくなれたり  [we can hurt, we can become passionate]
傷つく度にがむしゃらに走った道  [Each time there’s a scar from running wild on the path]
ずっと 一緒さ強気なmy heart   [My heart is keeping a straight-line strength]

uh ah それぞれのdestiny   [uh ah all different kinds of destiny]
uh ah かたく今決意し   [Do things like keeping them closely abreast]
Yes, i am gonna be strong
Yes, i am gonna be strong
広い海のように    [Like the wide ocean]
uh ah いたずらなdestiny   [uh ah rascal-like destiny]
uh ah 試されるテストに  [uh ah to the tests that try to betray us]
No, i don’t cry anymore
No, i don’t cry anymore
青い空のように  [like the wide blue sky]

誰だって言えない悩みがあって  [Everyone has some words they can’t express]
いつだって愛されたいだけがんばって  [And always we try our best at wanting to be loved]
この体を支配する感情はcolorful   [This body that is carried in feelings are colorful]
My name is… “My name is”
My name is woman

去ったばかりの恋にまださよなら言えない日々  [loves that just ran away that I can’t say ‘bye’ to yet]
過去を旅したり好都合なmake a story    [The past continues ‘make a story’]
そんな私を私が信じてあげる   [That kind of ‘me’ I’ll trust in]
ずっと 心配だらけのmy heart  [and all this time a worrying ‘my heart’]

uh ah それぞれのdestiny
uh ah かたく今決意し
Yes, i am gonna be strong
Yes, i am gonna be strong
広い海のように

uh ah いたずらなdestiny
uh ah 試されるテストに
No, i don’t cry anymore
No, i don’t cry anymore
青い空のように

それぞれに違う人のdestiny   [All kinds of people I meet with their destiny]
例えばママのあの子はtwenty-three  [thinking about it, I was a Mom to your 23]
激しい恋が好きなshe’s a drama queen  [she’s a drama queen that likes passionate love]
仕事に生きるよく似た友達   [To my friends who live for only working]
They are beautiful
They are beautiful
We are beautiful and even we are just women

Here we go
もっとずっと向こうに行こう   [Let’s go way further]
きっとちょっと流浪の時も  [Even if it’s not the right time]
もっとずっと向こうに行こう

uh ah それぞれのdestiny
uh ah かたく今決意し
Yes, i am gonna be strong
Yes, i am gonna be strong
広い海のように
uh ah いたずらなdestiny
uh ah 試されるテストに
No, i don’t cry anymore
No, i don’t cry anymore
青い空のように

uh ah それぞれのdestiny
uh ah かたく今決意し
Yes, i am gonna be strong
Yes, i am gonna be strong
広い海のように
uh ah いたずらなdestiny
uh ah 試されるテストに
No, i don’t cry anymore
No, i don’t cry anymore
青い空のように

Enka + Heavy Metal!!! : Aki Yashiro 八代亜紀 with Marty Friedman (formerly of Megadeth)

Enka  演歌  is a Japanese singing genre that combines Portuguese Fado, old Kabuki and Noh style singing, and popular westernized Music, usually with either sad themes or inspirational themes (see my earlier posting (https://ainoko.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/enka-jero/).

I grew up with enka and still must listen to it as healing and expression.  In my earlier posting, I commented on Jero, the African-American/Japanese biracial singer who is now a big enka singer in Japan today, who combines hip-hop sensibility and dance with traditional enka.  This has revived enka in Japan to a degree.  More Japanese youth, who have hardly heard enka much less listened to it, are now becoming interested.

Here a very well-known enka and pop singer Aki Yashiro 八代亜紀, combines her talents with ex-Megadeth member Marty Friedman, for   metal enka.      Yeah baby!

Enka 演歌: Jero ジェロ & Keiko Fuji 藤 圭子

演歌 Enka – (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enka is a traditional style of Japanese song, becoming intensely popular beginning in the 1940s. It’s tradition comes from different strands of more indigenous forms of Japanese ‘speech singing’ and ryukoka, Portuguese fado, and with its postwar Japanese sensibility, developed into modern balladry called ‘enka.’ Its melodies are decidedly American with hints of fado and ryukoka. Its themes are usually of sadness, separation and acceptance of loneliness. Naturally, as a child growing up bi-racially Black and Japanese in 1950s and 60s Japan, these enka were my friends who understood me, amidst the much of the racism both myself and my mother endured during those times in Japan.

Fuji Keiko 藤 圭子 sings: 新宿の女  Shinjuku no Onna (a Woman of Shinjuku) from 1969 (Yes, I was there then and loved this song! )

Translation of first verse:

If I were to be able to become a man

I wouldn’t throw women away.

For a butterfly of the neon lights

Kind words had been dyed into my heart

I was so stupid, I was so stupid

To be betrayed.

The night is cold, for the woman of Shinjuku

In February 2008, something quite remarkable sprang up in the Japanese music scene. It was because of a person who was thrust into the Enka music tradition with a new look, new image, and breaking the traditions of separation between genres, cultures, and race in Japan. A very young African-American/Japanese biracial singer, rose to number 4 in the music charts in Japan. He did not rise there with J-pop (Japanese popular music), but he did this singing a traditional enka song. Not only this, but in the introductions and instrumental interludes between versus, he dances in hip-hop with other back-up dancers. His dress is not the traditional kimono, but American hip-hop attire. It broke genres and codes and traditions, yet at the same time, it has re-introduced a traditional Japanese music genre to millions of young people who do not listen to enka and ignores it. There has been an enka revival.

Jero ジェロ, was born Jerome Charles White, Jr. in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up with enka; encouraged to sing it by his Japanese grandmother Takiko. I, being African-American/Japanese biracial, am very very taken and happy with Jero’s presence. I grew up with enka. I knew of other biracial kids my age in Japan who sang pretty good and wanted to be enka singers. But they were quickly admonished to give up those dreams. We live in different times. But as you can hear in the interview with Jero in the YouTube videos, the record company management struggled with how to put it forward. Yet I credit the fact that they did struggle and moved forward with it, taking risks to open Japan.

Part of the fear is always a ‘contamination’ of a ‘pure’ tradition. But most people who have reflected on history, politics, and power relations, and how cultural forms are introductions of a combination of forms that have always been multiple and from different cultures and times, this purity is nothing but a space to practice dominance and static forms of culture. However, it is important for me, and I think all of us, to understand that we also need traditions. Some traditions need to be respected and considered sacred. But this does not mean that there cannot be diversity in regards to that tradition.

Jero has broken boundaries, and as well, re-introduced enka back into Japanese popular culture. It is also an in-your-face adoption of another American art-form (his hip-hop dance and attire) which further introduces African-American-ness into the Japanese culture as well. This breaks much of the boundary between what is considered acceptably ‘American.’ For sure, in most nations other than North America, ‘American’ means white. Japanese indigenous hip-hop and rap culture are seen as reserved for the Japanese fringe and rebels. But this has slowly been changing due to artists such as Pushim http://www.pushim.com/index2.html and Rhymester http://www.rhymester.jp/ . As in other nations, hip-hop and rap begins as a musical form that resists and counters the homogenizing, flattening mainstreaming of what is acceptable and palatable as ‘normal’ and ‘good’ in a particularly dominant fashion. In Japan, as disillusionment and exclusions, resistances and radical thinkers exist and are marginalized, hip-hop and rap have also played the same role in providing music that resists all of those things.

Jero, for being such a young fellow, has some very wise things to say in the interview.