Monday, November 14, 2005
who's the best emcee? ain't no best

hip-hop ain�t the same, it�s a shame they closed Rawkus
disappointin� like the Knicks to New Yorkas
All I hear is a buncha lames �n sh*t talkers
Wheres the Kanes, Rakims and Chris Parkers?
Real MCs, are damn near extinct
Last time I heard some sh*t was 'Built for Cuban Linx'
Just think, other than that, the rest of the sh*t stinks
Better work out the kinks before your ship sinks
Sip drinks, get crunk, shake your behind
That sh*t is coo but it don�t stimulate your mind...

-Jin AKA 'The Emcee', "Perspectives"

Though I dropped about $150 on car maintenance today (oil change / transmission fluid / headlight replacement / tuneup), the pain of the cash loss was softened by my happiness of listening to the new Jin album.

After all the shortcomings of his freshmen release - the delays, the lackluster production, and half-hearted backing of the 'Double R' (HA!) - critics will quick to accuse Jin of being only a battle rapper capable of winning only events, not making records. But for this second effort, the former 106 & Park Freestyle Friday champ went back straight to the essence of the music - probably more wiser after a brush with the ugly commercialism that mars the soul of hip-hop.

His new CD is 12 tracks of solid songs (+2 skits), including the blistering hip-hop historical ode, "Top 5", which features a catchy hook that samples lines from raps by Nas' "Last Real N*gga Alive" and Jadakiss on "Made You Look Remix" (both the track "Top 5" and its GREAT music video can be downloaded from the official site right here). The production for "Top 5" and most of the songs on the album were handled by 15 year old (!) DJ prodigy, Golden Child (who despite the name, is not Asian).

While the Jin's perspective on the album is the familiar underground mantra, "Save hip-hop, screw the industry", it's still a worthy buy. Everyone ought to buy themselves a copy... especially if you're Asian American and a hip-hop fan. I think Justin made a remark about the "new Jin" (AKA "The Emcee") that pretty much sums up my feelings: This is the Jin that I wanted to hear.


education in the news

Angela and The Fighting 44s both pointed me to this article about Asian American kids being harassed in school. It's a great read that does a good job of identifying the factors - racial stereotypes of Asians being "the quiet smart kid", culture mores that emphasize avoiding confrontation, fear of reporting bullying because of repercussions or shaming their families - but stops short of addressing the dominant paradigm and popular notion in our culture that views all Asian people as weak, submissive, and passive ('Memoirs of a Geisha' anyone?) Of even greater concern to me - the trend of Asian kids joining gangs for protection, or even worst, school administrators / teachers refusing to help or ignoring the problem - the majority of the school staff in America being composed white and female teachers is definitely a factor in that... and that pisses me off.

You can sure as hell bet that I'm not going to shut up and be a "submissive, passive Asian male" if I see Asian kids being picked on and the school system not doing jack shite.

Another interesting article was in the Seattle PI about the growing math performance gap between white kids and minorities in "progressive" Seattle and Washington state. It's unfortunate, but I've even heard several family members and yes, even friends my age make racist remarks that basically amount to "Of course Black and Latino kids score worst than whites and Asians, they're not as smart!". Aiyah.

The Seattle professor quoted in the article, Professor David Marshak (an awesome teacher who has taught several of my classes), correctly identifies the real problems in my opinion:

David Marshak, an associate professor at Seattle University, said the highly sequential nature of math, which requires mastering new skills each step of the way, makes it easy to fall behind. Children's differing levels of education when they start school, their varying rates of development, the support they get at home and the quality of their teachers, he said, all combine to push some children along while others fall behind.

"If you start falling behind, and the teacher doesn't address it or doesn't have the capacity in a single-year relationship to deal with it appropriately, then you keep falling behind," he said.

Marshak is critical of the educational reform effort that began in Washington in 1993, saying it should have focused first on improving schools and then implemented an assessment system, rather than the other way around. Before the effort began, he said, the educational system had adopted practices that reflected research demonstrating that children learn differently and develop at varying rates.

"The standards and testing movement has obliterated that and created the assumption that kids are all the same, and, of course, kids are not the same," he said. Educators say a major challenge in raising math scores is the seismic shift in teaching strategies that today's math standards require. Past practices of memorizing times tables and learning by rote fall short of the WASL's requirement that children not only reach the correct answer, but also be able to explain how they got there.

And some people have the balls to say teachers have it easy... pshhht.

Finally, on a related note of educational achievement and Asian Americans, AngryAsianMan posted a fantastic commentary by Monica Eng about the stereotype of the Asian American "overachiever" and the darkside of the pressure to achieve - facts like Asian American women having the highest suicide rate of women aged 15-24, or the unspoken problems with mental health that many Asian American communities refuse to talk about because it's "shameful".

I'm not attacking or defending the premium that most Asian cultures place on academic achievement, but it's wise to critically reflect on the bad with the good, right? After all, I'm another Asian kid who sucked at "math and science"... haha. O_o


"If you start falling behind, and the teacher doesn't address it or doesn't have the capacity in a single-year relationship to deal with it appropriately, then you keep falling behind..."

That sorta reminded me of my last years in elementary school. I was in the "advance" math group in 3rd grade where we had a special tutor (another kid's mom) who started teaching us 4th grade material. Then, because I was (self-admittedly) a teacher's pet that year, I was 'highly recommended' to be placed in a split 3/4 class my 4th grade year. I hated that year. The teacher taught the 3rd graders whatever the 4th graders were taught. I didn't learn anything. In 5th grade, my teacher noticed that despite my grades, my knowledge of fractions was subpar. He found out it was because I wasn't taught it in the split class I was in, whereas all the other 4th graders were. I remember having my 5th grade teacher set me at my own table, and explain fractions to me, once a week, for a month.

There was only 1 other kid in my 5th grade class that was also in that split class. Fortunately, he learned fractions from 4th grade Math Olympiad -- something I originally was a part of in the beginning of the year, along with another girl from my class (we're the 2 asian girls in the entire school, might I add)... until our 4th grade teacher pulled us aside and told us that he choose "too many students" for MO, and we couldn't do it. But oh, he *promises* we'll get to participate in the next special thing.

It never came. I hated that year, and I've strongly disliked men with moustaches ever since.

Whew, sorry to rant so -- a memory was triggered ! I haven't even thought of this in over 10 years!!!
what's interesting is to see the performance gap between asians at poorer schools and asians at schools in wealthier districts. across the street from my house at whitworth, many of the asians (that make up about 25% of ths students) do as poorly as the black/latino students (the other 70%)- all their wasl scores are in the gutter. the 5% of white kids have an advantage of speaking english as their first language, but their scores aren't stellar, either. my friend who teaches in the rainier beach area says the 'lowest common denominator' factor is always a problem- not wanting to (forgive the pun) 'leave any child behind' and therefore teaching to the pace of the slower students. it's not like funding for specialized classes is available...
angela- wow, that's a crazy story. what a huge blunder by the teacher in charge... (makes mental note to not grow a mustache)

david- family background and income of the community around the school are definitely huge factors... more money = more teachers & instructional assistants to give individualized attention to students. interestingly enough, a research study about student performance and family life found that the number one determining factor in a student's academic performance was this: how often a student's family ate dinner together and talked. Check out this study:
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1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
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4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
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