Making the right move

Making the right move

Candace Kwan hangs out with hip hop group Far East Movement. Oh, yes, and talks to them about their new sound

It's been more than 10 years since Far East Movement started out, and almost four since they became the first Asian American group to top the US Billboard Charts with their hit Like a G6.

But despite achieving both mainstream and underground success, you can bet they're still on that grind.

"We're really proud of our last album, Dirty Bass, but it was so pop-leaning that we weren't able to work it in the US and that kept us overseas," says lead rapper Kev Nish. "It made us go back to the drawing board with our sound."

As the US sound is harder and less poppy, they decided to change direction to attract more attention there. For their upcoming fifth studio album, KTown Riot, Nish plans to showcase the band's production skills.

"We'll have a few tracks where it's just EDM [electronic dance music], where we're not performing on them … just more producing." It's a particularly timely move, as the band have been performing DJ sets in festivals recently.

Their latest single, Bang It to the Curb, was released in June.

"We've been working with a lot of EDM track producers, dubstep producers and hard electro producers. We took [Dutch DJ] Sidney Samson out of his element. We said let's make a hip hop record, and he was totally up for the challenge. That's Bang It to the Curb," says Nish.

The band may be trying new sounds, but they're not straying too far from their roots. The album title refers to the 1992 Koreatown Riots, which shaped their hometown of Los Angeles, and also their generation.

"It's important to reference and redefine [the Koreatown riots], but still have that Far East Movement party vibe."

The Illest, the lead single off the new album, does just that. The video showcases the story of the band's community and how it has changed over the years.

"People could say this song is just about clubbing and feeling [cool]," says Nish.

"It is really more of an anthem for that … introverted kid [who] isn't able to say he's [cool], but feels it."

Far East Movement are hip hop pioneers. And it almost goes without saying that many people in the Asian American community consider them to be role models. While there is still some debate over whether the group represents the community enough, their name - Far East Movement - speaks volumes.

Changing the way people view Asian Americans remains an important part of the music Far East Movement continues to make.

"If you're truly thinking about a movement, an Asian American movement, taking a step forward and trying to break a stereotype, are you going to complain? Or are you going to make a song that they can't believe an Asian person made, [which they] listen to every day?" asks Nish.

"Maybe that's the biggest difference we can make for our community."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Making the right move


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