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Home:Word Brings New Perspective to Rap At Stony Brook Performance

Photo Credit: Wang Center

If you’re a hip-hop connoisseur, you may have noticed that this genre of music hasn’t featured many prominent Asian talents in recent memory. However, an emerging collaboration comprised of two up-and-coming Asian-American artists showed audience members at Stony Brook just what hip-hop has been lacking.

On Oct. 28, the Wang Center welcomed Home:Word, a collaboration project between a Bay Area duo, Magnetic North and New York City based artist, Taiyo Na.

Magnetic North, consisting of emcees Derek Kan and Theresa Vu, released a 2006 self-titled debut album that trademarks their style of heartfelt rhymes accompanied by melodic-acoustic beats.  Na is a multi-faceted artist who has enjoyed success as a rapper, singer and songwriter.

The troupe performed a ten song set, with each track distinguishing itself from the previous. Each individual song conveyed its own emotion with empowering lyrics that touch on genuine subjects such as the importance of heritage, war refugees and childhood retrospection. One of their most uplifting tracks, “We Belong,” is an anthem that calls for unity amongst all demographics in America. The mainly student audience, containing various ethnic backgrounds, clapped and chanted the chorus of “we belong ya’ll” in unison.

“We’re not trying to rap about money, cars and girls,” said  Na to the audience during the middle of the set. “Family and home are our main concerns.”

One of Home:Word’s more danceable tunes, “Summertime,” maintains the group’s laidback style, yet capitalizes on positive raps encircling good times: chilling with close individuals and just living for the moment.

Magnetic North also performed its ubiquitous hit “Get Away,” a tribute to their art form of hip hop and its particular nuances that inspire the duo’s creativity.

The three members of Home:Word are distinctive in their respective styles. Kan is a smooth, slick emcee with a rapid flow that perfectly complements quick or downtempo instrumentals. Vu is an exceptional anomaly in the midst of fellow female artists such as Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha. Vu is a hard-hitting spitter who intensifies her lyrics of adolescence and passion for music. Na represented himself by a solo-acoustic performance of “Lovely to Me (Immigrant Mother).” Strumming the guitar chords ever so gently and projecting his lyrics with the most reserved yet most intimate voice, Na’s sincere ode to his hardworking immigrant mother surely resonated with those in the audience.

Socially conscious, eclectic, rooted in soul and funk, yet with a polished charisma, the emcees that form Home:Word exhibited a dynamic chemistry with one another to create a pleasant performance of Asian-American hip-hop. Perhaps this performance is just a small component of the bigger picture for Home:Word, a group that could truly transcend the modifier of “Asian-American hip-hop” and gain popularity among music lovers of all backgrounds.

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