I am currently a musician/rapper starting out my journey as an artist. I’ve recently embraced my artist persona (which is honestly more like my way self than anything else) more and more, and dived head first into exploring the music industry where I am currently located – in Vancouver, Canada. As I am finishing up my university degree with great merits so far, I’ve come to realise that there’s nothing I’d rather to than to continue creating music and experiences for people, which is why I’m tirelessly trying to create opportunities for myself in that field, and also focusing my energy and time on those opportunities as they come along.
My experience with education has been good overall, but also very nuanced, I would say. As I’ve experienced education systems in four different countries so far, and University education in three of those, I can say that the structures you work under are very different. Some aspects are better in some countries than others, and vice versa. What has been extremely valuable to me, was not only learning how to ‘learn’ the material in school (because let’s be honest, remembering all items on the balance sheet and income statement itself is not what makes you smart, but rather it’s developing strategies for doing so), but also adapting between the different countries, and gaining insight into what shaped other people’s perspectives and professional selves. Although I want to work in entertainment, I think this still gives a great foundation to understand more of human behavior, and be adaptable to people’s cultural differences (which actually is quite handy in industries such as the music industry, where you’ll most likely work with people from different countries and backgrounds).
As an Asian woman in the hip hop field, I think the hardest challenge to overcome was simply feeling that you didn’t fit in, that the people in the industry weren’t ‘your’ people, and that you would have a hard time being accepted. Once you get over these thoughts, and realize you have to find and pave a way if you want to make it and live your dream, that’s when you start getting creative as well. As for discrimination, I’ve not heard anyone say that I ‘could never make it as a rapper’ or anything of that sort on the basis of my gender or race, but what I have experienced was fetishization from people within the industry, who will talk to me simply due to their fascination with me being ‘Asian’ or mixed (or perhaps they just wanted to talk to a girl in general, but either way they explicitly mentioned that I was the ‘prettiest Asian girl they’d ever seen’, which is honestly the worst compliment and one that a lot of us have gotten before, I’m sure…).
Don’t be afraid to be completely yourself and vulnerable. If you do not shed all the personas that you have tried to be before, your music is not going to be honest, and it’s not going to be heartfelt – and that comes through all the way to the listener at the other end. What’s more, if your are living your authentic self, you are going to attract people and opportunities that make you truly excited, which is what’s going to fuel your motivation and give you the confidence to keep going. Plus it’s way more enjoyable that way.
My favorite part about what I do can be summed up in two things; the music, and the people. I’ve always been able to enjoy music at a deep level, from a more introverted aspect whether it be a simple melody or the piercing words of a lyric that’s hard to forget (I actually love musicals and classical music, which are the musical experiences that bring about the most emotions for me). But what really I love about music as well, is actually how it can bring together people, and how it is often something that is created in collaboration, and furthermore enjoyed in plenum (parties, performances). The way you can share and enjoy music together is great. When I hear a great (hip hop) song, and especially if I’m with people that enjoy the music too, I honestly cannot sit or stand still – I will start dancing.
If I had to choose one thing that is my least favorite about what I do, it would be the challenge of how to balance an authentic artistic self with the ins-and outs of the music industry, and figuring out ways to ‘get on’. Sometimes these go hand in hand, and you can find creative ways to attract your audience, which are enjoyable in itself, but when people around you want to push you in a certain stylistic direction simply to become more popular, that’s where it gets uncomfortable for me.
In my life, I’ve had to make a lot of decisions on my own, and make a lot of things happen without any direct help, or at least where I had to reach out myself to get the support I needed. I think the most critical event in my life, which was one I faced pretty much alone as well, was moving away from my home country by myself, with no financial help or support from my family. This was the first time I overcame such a transition on my own, but it actually came very naturally as I planned out everything very deliberately from the beginning. After the fact, this will always be a point in my life I’ll remember, because I think it really proved to myself that I can basically do what I set my mind to, and that everything in this world is not as ‘scary, big’ or ‘mysterious’ as it sometimes may seem. I was 19 at the time.
When I started out my musical journey, I had one thing in mind – becoming a global icon and (one of) the biggest female rapper and musician. This was the reason I set out on this venture in the first place, and that will continue to be the reason why I will keep on going consistently and persistently. I am in it for the long haul, and I am not too worried about the small things that may happen along the way. I am ready to face challenges, to go through new experiences, to learn gradually, and to keep working and growing, however slowly – because honestly the journey is so enjoyable and it’s what makes up life, and whatever speed the business and career aspect of it may grow, I aim strictly to enjoy myself along the way!
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