A coast-to-coast collective of artists, activists, and hip-hop heads, Motivate Movement’s origins date back to 2000, when it put on a showcase in memory of Michael Francisco, the local graffiti legend also known as Dream. Asiatic is its latest project, an eighteen-track compilation two years in the works, featuring top-notch beats, rhymes, cuts, and spoken word from a wide variety of Asian acts. The album cover states that it’s “delivering the message to the world that they do exist.” While acts like Philly’s Mountain Brothers and the now-defunct Invisibl Skratch Piklz have given a platform for talented Asian artists, they still remain virtually invisible on the mainstream rap radar.
The majority of cats on board hail from around the bay; some of them you’ve probably heard of before, and others are still coming up. Vinroc (Triple Threat DJs) teams up with Zion of Zion I for the slickly chopped, uptempo jam “Ghost in a Shell,” putting a different spin on a choice sample once rocked by Above the Law. Psychokinetics get nice with a spooky head-nodder called “Easy as It Looks,” while Vallejo’s Groundbasics and Golda Supanova represent lovely with “Growing Process,” lacing a classic MJ loop with intelligent rhyme schemes and rideable, clap-happy beats. Other local standouts come from Feenom Circle, Oakland Faders, Zhaldee, 427, Evil Lurks, and Unidentified.
New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Portland, and Chicago also join in. Organic Thoughts and U.N.I.Q. (Jersey) deliver the mellow “All Too Easy,” fueled by filtered guitar licks and a singsong chorus, and Chicago’s PACIFICS deliver the album’s closer “Cleo,” an instantly likable jam built on tinkling pianos and smart wordplay.
Hopefully, records like this will serve as a wake-up call to the rest of the world, proving that Asians in hip-hop contribute a lot more than just kung fu samples and tricked-out Acuras.