Culture of Pop

‘Bad Rap’ Shines the Light on Underrated Talent

Bad Rap

Bad Rap (2016)

Rap music comes from a variety of people, but the most prevalent in the rap game, on a big stage, are obviously African-Americans, with a handful of exceptions like Eminem. Bad Rap is a documentary that delves into the rap game of the Asian-American community; a talented, but struggling group. Director Salima Koroma follows the journey of four Asian-American rappers, Dumbfoundead, Awkwafina, Lyricks, and Rekstizzy, as they try to make it big.

The documentary is filmed with the customary on-location interviews, and snippets from rap history. The set-up doesn’t stand out; however, the topic being discussed is very engaging. Why haven’t Asian-American rappers flourished in the hip-hop world? This documentary explores the obstacles of Asian-American rappers, and the current they constantly swim against to make a little noise in the hip-hop world.

The depiction of these four rappers is very honest, and they make a case for themselves as people with talent that are chained down by stereotypes and societal boxes that fuel the marketing world. They are all clearly talented, but the standout is Dumbfoundead, an artist who came up through the freestyle battle scene. He’s definitely more lyrically gifted than a lot of the mumble rappers on the radio today, and even Drake’s a fan, but the documentary lays out how he’s not racially accepted as a rap artist. The documentary even touches on how Asian men in general are depicted in pop culture as nerds and comedy relief, making it harder to market an Asian-American rapper. Awkwafina, a female Asian-American rap artist, is shown to be more marketable, as there’s already a niche made for Asian women.

The likes of Ebro Darden from Hot 97, and Damien Scott from Complex Magazine, put their two cents in and collectively say it’s all about whether you’re dope or not. The documentary establishes a dialogue with the flip side of the coin, which is one of the most interesting parts of the film. These agents and figures from the music world are shown music videos of these four Asian-American rappers, and they were mostly impressed, but not without critique to give. They even discuss that lyrics isn’t the only aspect of being a successful rapper. Dope lyrics does not automatically equal superstar; see most of the rappers today with “lil” starting off their name.

Bad Rap is an engaging documentary that takes the time to give viewers a genuine look at four talented individuals struggling to get something the media world says they aren’t fit for. Bad Rap invites you to join the conversation of “why not?” for Asian-Americans in the rap game, and may even turn you into fans of some of the rappers that star in it.

Grade: C+


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