ASIAN AMERICAN ENTERTAINER,
DUMBFOUNDEAD ENTERS UNCHARTED WATERS
by Kendall F. Person
I was six years old on the day Asia arrived in America. I do not mean as a people or a culture. On the coasts, Americans of Asian descent, have been a part of the melting pot for nearly as long as the pot has been in existence. San Francisco’s Chinatown is not only one of its most popular tourist destinations, but is a vibrant community in its own right. But in Hollywood, Asian actors were often reduced to stereo-typical, slapstick style characters, and many times, in the most popular roles, were played by white Americans or Europeans (Warland Oland as Charlie Chan) further insulting both American Asians as well as, Asians abroad. But in 1972, an American born actor of Chinese heritage exploded on the scene, bringing not just his authentic cultural identity with him, but ushered in a martial arts craze that would become an unrivaled American curriculum for decades to come.
The Chinese Connection and Fist of Fury starring Bruce Lee were action packed thrillers, with intimate storylines rumbling beneath. But it was the 1973 blockbuster Enter the Dragon, coupled with his untimely death at age 32, that cemented Bruce Lee as an iconic international star. His moves were brilliant. His strikingly good looks all but erased the racial characteristics that were so often portrayed by the entertainment industry, and unwittingly thrusted into the subconscious of the average American moviegoer. Bruce Lee was not just a Chinese star, or an Asian star but a brilliant, talented and popular global superstar.
There have been hints at a repeat of his success. Hong Kong based director John Woo (Face/Off, Mission Impossible II), actress Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, Chicago) and more recently South Korean born singer PSY (Gangnam Style) and the American born quartet Far East Movement (Like a G6), but their storylines have either stalled or are still in progress.
With the swagger of hip hop, the backstory Americans love and the talent of a star, Dumbfoundead not only embraces his American culture but does not shy away from his Korean heritage. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to South Korean refugees, along with his sister, he was smuggled into Mexico before settling in Los Angeles’ Koreatown at the age of three. Clear pays homage to his past, present and future. The video was shot entirely in South Korea, and the subtle sounds of the far east cannot easily be ignored, and may be the formula that sets him apart from other aspiring rappers. But his smooth flow, intelligent lyrics (I’m Malcom, I’m Gladwell that tippin point is risin’) and original sound, although a long way off and treading uncharted waters, Dumbfounded may be on the right path to iconic status.
a music review