MANILA - Filipino artists Dante Basco and AJ Rafael have joined other Asian-American musicians in a milestone album called “Face Value” that addresses Asian hate crime.
The 15-track collection, spearheaded by Asian-American rappers Jason Chu and Alan Z, will be released this Friday in conjunction with the celebration of the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month this May.
The group had initially dropped online the stirring rap song “Model Minority,” performed by Basco with Chu, Alan Z, and Indian-American singer Neela.
Composed by Anne One with Basco, Chu, and Alan Z, “Model Minority's" lyrics have references to the criminal attacks against Filipino-American Noel Quintana, who survived an ear to ear face slashing attack in a New York subway last February; and Thai-American Vicha Ratanapakdee, a victim of an assault in San Francisco earlier this year.
The song, which also focuses on the long struggle of Asian-Americans in the United States, also has Basco, who has attained success in Hollywood movie mainstream (as actor in “Hook,” “The Debut,” “Take the Lead” and as voice talent in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” among others) mouthing a meaningful rap portion, to wit: “And just some of us have found success does not mean we don’t know we are oppressed... we are America and we’ll never be again invisible.”
“Our pain and power are grounded in 170+ years of oppression and solidarity. We have to look back and know our history so we can move forward,” said Chu in a Wish USA Music virtual conference Sunday, also citing the sacrifice of Asian immigrants in building American society, like the Filipino “manongs” who fought for equal minimum wages in the last century.
“It was a four-month process digging the history and evolution of Asian migration,” Chu said. “And along the way we found a strong vibrant community of Asian-American artists.”
“It’s great to have several nationalities of Asian descent coming together for this advocacy," said Alan. “Dante Basco, AJ Rafael, and the Filipino community have shown so much love for this project!”
Coincidentally, Basco had just directed the widely acclaimed comedy “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers." Set in their hometown in California, it’s a collaboration with his siblings Darion Basco, Arianna Basco, Dionysio Basco, and Derek Basco about the dynamics of Filipino-American family life in the US.
A former "American Idol" contender in 2008, Rafael has emerged as a hit songwriter, online sensation and host-producer of the virtual show, “Crazy Talented Asians."
“Face Value” features artists and other prominent voices from the diverse Asian-American community including actor Ronny Chieng ("Crazy Rich Asians," "The Daily Show"), rappers Chow Mane and Ruby Ibarra, WWE star Zeda Zhang, actor Bee Vang, singer-rapper Sirena Yang, and other artists like Htet, Jamel "MC Tingbudong" Mims, and comedian Wise Bexley.