Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Synopsis

'Speak it Louder' is not about Asian American music - it is about Asian Americans making music. The author tracks a wide range of genres, from Cambodian drama & karaoke, to Vietnamese pop, Asian American hip hop & Laotian song.

Excerpt

This book brings together several lines of exploration. I look closely at Asian American musicians and their chosen means of performance and I problematize contemporary American discussions of power and representation focusing on race: I argue that music is performative and that it “speaks” with considerable power and subtlety as a discourse of difference. Indeed, the sounds I address are many things-loud, angry, anguished, joyful, defiant, nostalgic-and the Asian American musicians who make this noise have a lot to say about what they are doing. I trace their words, their music and how they are heard; I offer my own readings of their music and its stirring effects on me, but I place this within the broader political context(s) of American identity politics.

Speak It Louder emerged out of movement between southern California and Philadelphia over ten years' time. Two brief years in southern California, at Pomona College from 1991-93, were ground zero for this study; Asian American colleagues and students shaped my emergent ideas of how scholarship on Asian America must be an activist undertaking. Those two years on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County exposed me to a certain kind of racial politics and fundamentally redirected my intellectual energies. The beating of Rodney King and the Los Angeles uprising in 1992 were formative experiences; trying to teach while South Central and Koreatown burned was a turning point for me, and my personal desire to develop a critical pedagogy of multiculturalism emerged from those difficult days. Between 1993 and 1996, I lived in Philadelphia, a city whose racial politics are framed in terms of Black/White relations despite the presence of more than 20,000 Asians and Asian Americans. This left its mark on my political sensibilities and on my need for civic and cultural spaces defined by Asian Americans. My decision to return to southern Cal . . .

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