Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Chang Jui-Chuan – Exodus: Retrospective and Prospective 1999-2009

Global hip-hop doesn’t get much better than this. Rapper/college professor Chang Jui-Chuan is a bonafide star of the hip-hop underground in his native Taiwan, and this collection – largely culled from a 2006 release – has him poised to cross over to an English-speaking audience. A gifted, frequently ferocious bilingual lyricist in his native language, Hokkien and also English, he delivers his English raps in a menacing, slurred Taiwanese-accented drawl. This is conscious hip-hop raised to a power: people have been executed for tackling the topics he addresses. He has little use for globalization:

You say free trade gets us out of poverty and hunger

Free trade saves my family from pistol triggers

Free trade assures good drugs for my son’s cancer

Then tell me why we’re dying faster than ever…

Exploitation disguised as freedom and democracy

Global corporations feed Third World Dictators

Paying less than one dollar per month for child workers…

He fearlessly takes the stand for dissidents who risk their lives around the globe, especially those who dare stand up to the mainland Chinese regime:

…when I’m placing an order on this free-speech website

It’s taken over by the interface in Chinese Simplified

Propaganda’s never simplified, can only be vandalized

I orchestrate lyrical drive-bys

The most potent lyric here is in Hokkien, titled Hey Kid, a scathing account of Chang Kai-shek’s invasion of Taiwan, the February 27, 1947 massacre of Taiwanese nationalist freedom fighters, and the subsequent terror that lasted decades and left tens of thousands of innocent civilians dead. He also addresses spiritual concerns without coming across as doctrinaire (he’s a Christian) and the need to preserve indigenous cultures in the face of western cultural imperialism. The backing tracks here deserve mention too because they’re excellent, ranging from spacy psychedelic funk, to roots reggae (Chang sings respectably well), to ominous, chromatically-charged funk-metal played by a live band rather than sampled. Fans of the best conscious American hip-hop acts: Immortal Technique, the Coup and Dead Prez are in for a treat here. Or maybe this guy can hook up with the Hsu-nami and we can get a real Taiwanese-American crossover.

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November 13, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. great guy

    totally agree with this statement
    “Then tell me why we’re dying faster than ever”
    our greed destroy our selves.
    polution, global warming etc

    Comment by tommy | November 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. I visited Chang Jui-chuan’s MySpace page. Awesome music he’s got there. Where in the States can I get a copy of this albm?

    Comment by BeezyBee | November 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. I cannot tell if you article is sarcastic or not!

    Against Western imperialism but makes his living from being an English professor – is Christian and talks about protecting the Indigenous people of Taiwan!!!

    Comment by blaftealey | March 9, 2010 | Reply

  4. so Gandhi was a phony revolutionary because he spoke English? Sartre was a Nazi collaborator because he spoke German? Martin Luther King was fake because he was a Christian?

    Comment by delarue | March 9, 2010 | Reply

  5. @delarue

    There is one thing about using the tools of history, like language, to negotiate and take action against the oppressor, it is another to make a statement about your faith without out being being deeply critical of it.

    As for your questions , I would never compare 張睿銓 to Gandhi, Sartre or Martin Luther King.

    Comment by blaftealey | April 15, 2010 | Reply

  6. To blaftealey:

    To borrow your words “being critical,” I think the “critical” view Chang tries to express is that, although he is an English teacher, he does not avoid talking about the postcolonial aftermath of the English language, and although he is a Christian, he sees clearly the problems some Christians have created and tries not to make the same mistakes.

    Anyway, numerous Afro-Aemrican English/social science teachers here in the states are doing what Chang is doing. Have you listened to Chang Jui-chuan’s music yet? I encourage you to visit his MySpace, if you can’t get hold of a copy of this album. The message is there.

    Comment by BeezyBee | May 16, 2010 | Reply


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