watch: the short that chronicles 46 years of asian americans in music

August 19, 2019

words by: Bere Wangge

A video chronicling the music videos released by Asian American artists has been gaining traction since it was released a few weeks ago. A Music Video History of Asian America, as it is titled, is curated and produced by Pacific Arts Movement, a San Diego-based organization focusing on Asian American and Asian international cinema.

Left: “Green Tea” by Awkwafina
Right: “Us” by Ruby Ibarra

Running for a little less than 37 minutes, the short documentary is made out of a compilation of 46 music videos from the last 46 years. Although dominated by hip-hop music videos, the documentary also features other genres by underground and mainstream artists, pioneers and prodigies alike: MC Jin, Mountain Brothers, Bambu, Year of the Ox, Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, HEEMS of Das Racist and Swet Shop Boys, Awkwafina, Ruby Ibarra, Hayley Kiyoko, Klassy and many more.

“Each of the artists we picked plays an important role in telling that story and adding to, shaping, and defining the multifaceted Asian American identity," writes Pacific Arts Movement. In one way, the 46 music videos is a display of Asian American’s existence in music, but at the same time their invisibility too. As quoted from South China Morning Post, “Many people wouldn’t know that Asian-American hip hop even exists or that 46 Asian-American hip hop videos could even have been made.”

A concise description that appears on each music video offers an explanation on every song's artist (or artists) and background. By delivering a context to each of the featured videos, the documentary becomes more than just about the history of music. It's an education on the history of Asian Americans, both the good and especially the bad. From the Japanese internment camp during the World War II (as sung by Key Kool), the Koreatown riots (Far East Movement, Mike B), the anti-Filipino sentiment (APL.DE.AP of Black Eyed Peas) and many more.

Pacific Arts Movement further emphasizes their objective. "Our intention was to create a music video history of Asian America,” reads the caption below the video, “highlighting the important role these artists play in the preservation and reminder of our history, our heritage, and our struggles, both shared and individual, personal and political, as well as their equally important commentary on the society, identity, and the social issues of today.”

Watch A Music Video History of Asian America above.