Although it started in the South Bronx among African-American and Latino youths in the '70s, hip-hop culture today has transcended all racial and language boundaries. From the slums of France to nationally televised programs in Korea, rappers have emerged as legitimate pop culture stars around the world. Hip-hop's global movement is diverse, but the face of rap in America remains primarily black, brown, and white.
Bad Rap follows the lives and careers of four Asian-American rappers trying to break into a world that often treats them as outsiders. Sharing dynamic live performance footage and revealing interviews, these artists make the most skeptical critics into believers.
From battle rhymes of crowd-favorite Dumbfoundead to the tongue-in-cheek songs of Awkwafina, the unapologetic visuals of Rekstizzy to conflicted values of Lyricks, the film paints a memorable portrait of artistic passion in the face of an unsung struggle.
Dumbfoundead - Los Angeles, California. He earned his huge following as a freestyle battle champ in California's Grind Time circuit. His YouTube and social media savvy helped to establish him as one of hip-hop's most recognized independent rap artists. So why isn't he marketable?
Awkwafina - Queens, New York. She’s quirky, funny, and blew up after her music video “My Vag” became a viral hit and praised by New York Magazine and Buzzfeed. Cynics say she’s only marketable because she’s a woman, but is that really the case? And can she have longevity in a genre that has long relegated Asian women to the role of exotic ornaments?
Rekstizzy - Queens, New York. His name is inspired by recklessness and he’s known for his wild stage antics and left-field personality. He wants to share his innovative ideas and push the envelope, but too often his outrageous creativity blatantly crosses boundaries and makes some people uncomfortable. But is his bold style what’s needed for an Asian American to break through the mainstream?
Lyricks - Fairfax, Virginia. He started his career with a strong emphasis on Christian values. Now, unsure of his artistic identity and having to support his aging parents, Lyricks stands at the crossroads, trying to figure out how to move forward as an artist.
Salima Koroma (Director/Producer) - Bad Rap is Salima's directorial debut. She's a former video producer for Time Magazine, NowThis, and Current TV, and a hip-hop and K-pop news writer. Salima is currently at work writing screenplays for film and television.
Jaeki Cho (Producer) - Throughout his late teens and early 20s, Jaeki pursued a career in music journalism, writing for publications such as Complex, VIBE, Billboard, and working as an editor for XXL. He doesn't write about rap as much, but stays occupied producing sneaker collaborations, clothes, and music videos. Bad Rap is his first film as a producer.