Marisol “Murdasol” Lazaro hits us with another review of Chan’s Politickin’ Vol. 1.

ChanPolitickin’ Vol. 1 (2006), Hip-Hop, Dynasty Muzik

Chan, (thankfully,) formerly known as “Snackie Chan” comes out with the best stuff he’s made spanning 2001 to 2006 in Politickin vol 1 . The tracks are all-around good. Chan lays down some slick rhymes and is backed with awesome background beats.

You are eased into “Combat Zone” with this beat that falls like a momentous precipitation you’ve anticipated. (How poetic of me. Yeah.) His collaboration with M-Flo in “What it is” is slihihihihick. Backed by some singer who sang her hooks in (Badu-esque-like fashion, where she [not Badu] got a tiny bit annoying at times), the rapping in Japanese clicked with the overall song. While I have heard some Japanese rap before that was questionable, the excellent overall execution of “What it is” made this collab of Chan with M-Flo really work.

Talking about hip-hop like it was a woman he was in love but was corrupted by the man like Chan does in “My Little Corner” seems awfully familiar to Common’s story in “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. I suppose it’s not as like Common owns this idea, but I couldn’t shake the thought of how unoriginal Chan’s story was in this track. It’s like one of those concepts that should be only rapped about like once. But maybe that’s me, and I’m sure the subject’s been covered more times than I’d know. Nevertheless the lyrics in “My Little Corner” are Chan’s own and they are nice, so nice I’m sure almost every girl would wish it was her he was rapping about. It’s just that the sampling is that good as well as everything else – wonderfully old school in style- and I had wished the subject matter was just as original.

While he covers common subjects in rap, of losing a friend, getting into the rap business, etc., he maintains substance to his lyrics and prevents them from being clichés. We get an insight to the extent of his angst over a dead friend “I Feel Sorry for Your Mother”. His lyrics pierce: “All the good dogs go to heaven/Ain’t that right, reverend?/ No ifs ands or maybes/ end of sentence/ Mention faith spark religious debate/Watch a newborn die/then testify/ that God’s so great”. It’s also the way he brings conviction to the way he raps; the way he raps and his lyrics simply work well together. Consider tracks such as “Radio Wars”.

Okay, I also got to bring this issue up. When you are an Asian rapper working in the American rap business, you’re sure to get shit for being Asian. I’ve seen those battles, and often the competitor would get back at the Asian one with some messed up racist crap on Asians. I’m sure Chan has got his share, and in “Hung too Low” you hear his response, which goes along the lines of him laying some verbal martial arts on that other rapper. Now on one hand, I know this is a way to turn one of the stereotypes around (here, that all Asians do martial arts) and use it as one’s own against the other rapper. But on the other hand, it seems like it in turn reinforces those stereotypes. No, this isn’t what Chan does throughout his whole album, but I think this track, even the name itself “Hung too Low” (I’m soooo over with those damn Asian name based puns, btw) does get you to start thinking about how referencing the stereotyping by” owning it” effectively helps to defy that stereotyping. Think the n-word and those debates. Sorta analogous, I guess. But really, “Hung too Low” is a good song. It could also signify a sense of pride in the bad-assness of the martial-arts-literate Asian. Sometimes though, I think it is worth it to past the good stuff in the song and ask some questions.

This album is full of goodness. I wonder about his works from which this compilation spawned forth, but I what wonder, or, hope – is that he cranks out more songs of Politickin’s caliber.

marisol lazaro