Looking back at Shawn Sung and the dark side of 90s LA and aZn culture

Internet rabbit-holing and can’t believe this recently made doc exists. A snapshot in time of a subculture within a subculture – that singular moment of Taiwanese-Americans in 90s and early 00s LA where the children of an aspiring class in a then still third world country coming up basically ended up as a bunch of wannabe hoodlums or actual hoodlums, the people who didn’t roll with the model minority whiz kids and threw punches instead, influenced by the worries and insecurities of Taiwan’s political transformations, Black and Chicano hip hop culture, struggles with racism, and absent or disconnected families.

The short film, Parachute Kids captured this feeling well:

Another, Byron Q’s Bang Bang, captured the complexities of class within that experience:

Shawn Sung was way before his time – way ahead of what Jin was doing on 106 & Park and MC Hotdog rapping about how hot Taiwanese girls are (no hate to Jin or MC Hotdog with this) – this culture existed with much smoother flows and meaning, he’s still being venerated in 2016. Shawn Sung (and also have to name check Drunken Tiger who was doing something similar in Korean across town in the West Side of Los Angeles) were doing their thing under any mass cultural radar.

He unabashedly criticized a lot of the hypocrisy of Taiwan’s music industry and culture but also declared early into the sentiment of what has involved into the current polyglot Californian identity – one of the lyrics in one of his mixtapes that survived after his death was “Hey 大家(everybody),I put it down for the la raza.”

I’ve become a lot more sensitive to the way people speak in the last year, and I love the jumble of languages and accents in this doc that sound like many homes. The farther I go from where I came from, the more clarity I have to how important the source is.

I wish he had lived to see and continued to influence what we have transformed into as a people here and across the Pacific.

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