Episode 7

Jason Chu ·  Rising Chinese American Rapper and Activist

“If I throw myself out there, not everything is going to work. But I really, really believe, that if we build strong communities, the community will have our back. So I hope that everybody out there who's hustling, people who got a lot of different hustles, and I love all of it. Now, we need real estate agents, definitely. We need bankers and CFAs and people who are handling the money. But in the end, are we building up all these things out of fear of not having enough? Or are we building up all these things in the hopes that we're creating structures that will build a brighter future?”

Jason Chu is a rising Chinese American rapper and activist. His music has appeared in Warrior (HBO/Cinemax), and Wu-Assassins (Netflix). Jason has opened for Snoop Dogg and Bernie Sanders, performed at the Obama White House and the Getty Center, and been presented at Flushing Town Hall and the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. His lyrics and videos have been featured in the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles.

An Asian American cultural expert, Jason has lectured and spoken on arts, media representation, Asian- Black polyculturalism, and racial history at UPenn, ArtCenter College of Design, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Stanford, NYU, Yale, and beyond. His work has been covered by the BBC, NBC Asian America, South China Morning Post, NPR Sacramento, and other outlets. He holds a BA (with Distinction) in Philosophy from Yale College and was a contributing writer to the St. James Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Culture.

 

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Podcast Transcript

Jason Chu

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, my name is Bryan and my name is Maggie. We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:00) Today we have a very, very special guest with us today. His name is Jason Chu and he is an LA-based hip-hop artist, poet, and activist. Welcome, Jason to the show!

Jason: (00:00:21) It is nice to see y’all thank you for having me.

Maggie: (00:00:24) We love to go right into the podcast and I think one of the questions that we always ask our interviews is we love to know like what your upbringing was like, what kind of family did you grow up in? Was it like a very traditional Asian household? Tell us a little bit about that.

Jason: (00:00:44) I did not grow up in a very traditional Asian household. I think only actually as I got older, then I realize how much my family is Asian what I’m saying? So, what I mean by that is my mom and dad they’re both immigrants. They came to the US for college, but they actually both speak English fluently.

We spoke English at home they speak with no accent So, I always grew up thinking that was like a normal Asian American upbringing and it was only once I got into college that I started realizing, oh, a lot of my friends have very different experiences with their families.

So, for me, I very much grew up superficially extremely, extremely American, right but as I said, the older I get, the more I realize that there are a lot of values, a lot of things I’ve been taught, just a lot of the less superficial things of being Asian that are still very deeply ingrained in me.

Bryan: (00:01:53) Wow, that’s amazing. Where’d you grow up again?

Jason: (00:01:54) I grew up in Delaware, not too crazy.

Bryan: (00:02:02) You mentioned before, like your parents, they’re well, educated and speak English well. What was your upbringing? Like? What did, what kind of values did he teach you growing up to be like, hey Jason, like, we want you to be a doctor, a lawyer to do have this conversation with you, or how did you go about it?

Jason: (00:02:21) I would say my parents have always wanted me to be stable and they’ve always wanted me to be able to take care of myself but I think that some of the ways, that I always felt more American were they very much encouraged me to do what I was passionate about right. When I was growing up so my dad is a chemist. He worked in the same my whole life essentially since like I’ve been growing up like he still goes to work in the same lab and he just kept moving up the ranks but one thing that I have been very fortunate about is they’ve always encouraged to follow what I believe in and to me, a lot of that comes down. So there, they’re pretty religious, another Christian and I’m also fairly religious, but it’s been cool because the way that that religion translates itself into, into their values is that they say, hey as long as your, a positive impact in the community, as long as you’re leaving something, building something for people beyond yourself beyond just us.

They consider that a positive thing and I’m realizing the way that we approach family or the way we approach things like money can be very Asian in terms of how I was raised to never go into debt raise. I saw them like pay cash or for cars and like all kinds of things like that. I would say that the values I was raised with were this idea of contributing to a unit that’s bigger than the individual.

Maggie: (00:04:11) That’s refreshing to hear because it seems like your parents were very supportive and you don’t get that a lot in Asian households. They always want you to become a doctor or a lawyer or something like that similar to what Bryan said and they have that perception because a lot of them immigrated here, right and they’re not used to going through the route where it’s unsafe. They want us to like take safe routes and have like a steady and so I think that’s refreshing to hear and it’s good to see that perspective. I love to know, what you were doing before you became an artist and if you were, what was that transition? Talk about your passion for music and like how you kind of fell into that and how you found your passion for music.

Jason: (00:05:06) I love it because we’ve hung out a couple of times in person, and then we’ve been friends for a little while now. So this is nice. It feels like we’re just hanging out.

Yeah, So I, right. So, I went to Yale University. So, I studied hard in high school and the irony, the funny thing is on some, again, superficial levels. My life has very much looked like a model minority kind of stereotype pathway, studied hard was into science and tech. I got some scholarships and got into the Ivy league based on studying bio, like doing research. I was part of this research program at MIT when I was in high school. All of these great opportunities that were afforded because I was very much in a family that values, education, values, learning, knowledge, and those kinds of accolades?

Going to the question that Maggie asked, also for me, what it was, as I went to college. So, this is the exact train of thought that it was for me because I went to college and as I said already, it was very much drilled into me. We don’t get successful just so that we can have more fun.

We get successful and I think a lot of people, a lot of Asian Americans get this form of this when they say I went to school and I always knew that I had to support my family but I think for my family, they just expanded the boundaries of that a little bit to say it’s not just about going to school and then getting a good job so that I can make my nuclear family very proud, but it was very much saying for the bigger community of knowledge, Asian-Americans or even bigger than that just, just the world, right? Like I’m not going to school just so that I could have fun or even just my family could do well, but so that we can, we can create something for the world right. So, I went in and I went into study bio because I thought, hey this is, this is something that my father is a chemist like I said, and, and he works to create technologies that help support in the medical field.

And there was always that sense of, okay, this is something that I could use my intellect, use my education to give back but when, when I was at school like myself as with, I think a lot of young Asian Americans I struggled a lot with mental health definitely in high school, throughout college, throughout my twenties, depression, mental health feeling a sense of anxiety or worthless Was very much part of my everyday struggle, right and what I realized was that I have so many friends who are physically doing fine health-wise, we’re doing fine, but mental health-wise, we’re a wreck, what I’m saying? We can be a mess and that’s there’s a lot of exacerbating factors, but what I realized is there are so many physical people but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally not doing well and so that’s what sort of got me moving sort of away from the hard sciences. And I wound up majoring in philosophy because I thought, hey, if so, many people are doing well, physically, even financially, but spiritually, right? They’re, they’re just a wreck.

And so, I wanted to study philosophy to help those, and gradually that brought me to the point of saying, well, okay, I’ve got all these great ideas about the world in my head, but now how do I get them out, right? Like if I’m a professor if I study, I’ll get a Ph.D., I teach, I only get to impact maybe 20, 30, or 50 students a year, but I’ve always loved art.

I’ve always loved music when I was going through my issues. Music was always my guiding light, right and if I can create music. That helps people get through the day that helps people, not just have these ideas in their head, but carry it in their body period in their ears. That’s, that’s something that could touch the world right now. And so that’s how I wound up rolling the dice and going into music full-time.

Bryan: (00:09:50) It resonates with me too, because I would say mentally, I was a wreck while growing up, the same way it’s just different pressures. My pressure from my parents was I needed to become successful because our family never had any money.

They kept pressuring me to become a doctor or a lawyer and I became an engineer, but it wasn’t really by choice. It was really because of necessity and supporting my parents and it wasn’t until I got to a certain point I was just like, I’m not happy right now. And that feeling of wanting to give back to educate our community, to do more, and to eliminate some of these negative stereotypes about mental health, because we talked about mental health with my parents at least, or any other Asian parents, those brushed off, what are you guys depressed about? We came to America.

It’s powerful that you are using it to make a difference and everyone has their strengths for us. It’s because we love hearing stories. We will stop tearing up about anyone’s story anywhere in the world. Even though we were traveling in Japan, a Japanese guy was telling us his story.

We just thought we were doing this, listen that’s something that we feel like we could empower the world with by sharing stories. And the more you share the lesson, the more racism is out there, and less hate is out there because he comes from a common ground. Yeah, and it’s crazy because there is, I was watching YouTube videos too, of this African-American guy.

He can speak Chinese and he approached people, the Chinese who were kind of scared of him until he spoke in Chinese, they were all laughing, and they were hugging. So, it comes to the fact that you have to have common ground with people. It’s so powerful. What you’re doing to yourself is your music. Cause its topic ground, we had an opportunity to listen to your new drops. Your album was super excited to be like, talk to you about this right now.

Maggie: (00:12:06) I feel the same way. I feel like there are so many different languages in the world. But honestly, music is a universal language. It doesn’t matter what culture, what culture you came from, or what language you speak. Music is the universal language. And for you to have that epiphany where like you have so much knowledge you want to share after going into philosophy, you want to outpour all of this knowledge to other people. Music is the best medium.

Bryan: (00:12:34) Tell us about this physician though. What was your first concert? Did you make music on Spotify? How’d you feel successful?

Maggie: (00:12:42) I’d love to know how did you reach out to other artists? How did you get your name out there? And what did you need to do to put yourself on a platform, put yourself on a pedestal and be hey, I’m Jason Chu and like trying to get into this industry?

Jason: (00:13:00) I mean that at this point I’m a little bit into my career, so I always, like, I do like thinking back about how it started right. Because it’s, it’s so different. So, maybe the way to jump into it is exactly like you’re saying right now like I love stories and I think that it’s really powerful, right?

When, so, in Asian America right now, we talk a lot about representation, right but I like to even rewind a little further and, and talk about existence, and what I mean by that is I think sometimes we get so caught up in being seen that we work so hard to be seen and to be heard and then when we finally get that platform only then do, we start asking shit?

My eyes are on me now, what am I about, right? We focus on, especially Asian Americans. We can be so invisible, right that’s how racism works against us usually, right? For right now Black Lives Matter, right. Is it this powerful movement in the world? And I love it.

And racism works on black people to make them visible, but to stereotype them. Yeah, right? So, people will say, oh all my favorite artists are black, or, what about Will Smith? What about Beyonce? As black people get seen, well, black people get seen, but then they get stereotyped right, and then the other sexy and cool or strong athletes, but they’re not human, right for Asian Americans, it’s the same result, but it’s different, right? Like instead of being seen and being stereotyped where, yeah, and made invisible and so what I think a lot about is what do I have to say?

What do I have to share? And that’s really how I got into the music game was I came out and from day one, my music has always been very, very values-oriented our friend, Andrew chow from Boba guys, Andrew always talks about having a value-oriented brand, right. My brand is actually and from day one, this has been true. It’s been more about what I’m saying than how I’m looking at saying it? And, and so that was really how I got into the business was that I was just making music that tried to say something. I started putting music out on YouTube when YouTube was still really like viral.

And it was very possible to go viral on YouTube and the first couple of records that I had that got me starting to tour and starting to get booked on the Asian-American college scene were records that were about, like, you’re saying like the story about what it was like growing up, about just things I was experiencing and that’s always been kind of my trademark more than one particular sound more than one particular image has been on. I’m a guy that if you bring me out to your school or you bring me out to your performance or festival or whatever it is, I’m going to come and I’m going to have a message for you.

I’m going to have something to say about the world, and that’s obviously I’m a very proud member of the Asian Hustle Network one of many, one, very, very many members. I know there’s a ton of which is incredible and I love seeing people who joined in the network doing their little intros and saying like and that’s a form of storytelling right and I think everyone’s kind of tapped into that but to me, what’s, what’s even more powerful than just a story, right. Is the idea of through stories you can discover who a person is and you can tell when somebody is using a story to sell a product, right versus when somebody is got a product, but that product taps you into a larger story.

I think a lot about the idea of are we using our star, we leverage the power of a story well told just to sell, right, or is the product is part of this natural, organic lifestyle that we’re building up and the intros that I see on AHN that always strikes me closest to the heart or when it seems like somebody is just giving themselves and they might have a thing that they do or a whatever that they’re trying to put forget the call to action. It’s 2020 if I am interested in you, if you sound like a dope person, I can find everything about it. I’ll find your website; I’ll find your Instagram.

And then I understand the funnel and the CTA, I understand all of that but first and foremost, right, there are like a billion-plus people out there who want me to click on their link. More than that is this a person. To influence my life and that’s been kind of my guiding principle with my music.

That’s what got me into music. That’s what’s kept me in music. Some years I haven’t had a record go big or I haven’t had a campaign that went well, I didn’t get much coverage, but the heart of it has always been, do I have something to say? And if I don’t have something to say that can help people out, then I just got to work on myself.

I got to figure out what’s going on in the world and then if I got something that I look out there and I can genuinely say, what I think in this, in this time, in the world, what I have can be powerful and can be used to help people, then it, I mean, it’s not like it sells itself. You still got to be smart about it.

To me, that was the foundation of what got me into music and then a certain target audience saying this is something that we’ve already been looking for. We just, we haven’t found it or, or this guy is doing it in a little bit of a different way that helps us access it, and then that’s what got me on the road. That’s what started getting me a couple of streams. I’m still, honestly, not even like a streaming heavy artist, like I’ve got a couple of songs that I’ve done numbers here and there, but even more than that, I think I’m known as somebody who can bring certain perspectives to bear on whatever situations are going on in the world around us and that’s what’s been cool is to have a fan base that’s evolved and grown over the last several years. And it’s not based on like we just really want to hear that on single, you got more it’s more hey, we enjoy you and we’re interested in you and we let’s have that relationship so that’s, that’s kind of how I got into the music full time and have been able to sustain it, not a lot of artists, especially on an independent level. I haven’t been able to have that staying power and I’ve been very fortunate and blessed that people keep staying tuned in.

Maggie: (00:20:31)  I 100% agree with you about the stories I feel. or I’m sure I can speak to speak for Bryan as well everyone has their story right and it doesn’t matter what your story is. It’s your own and certain things happen in your life that are representative of who you are. And no one can change that, right. And if we are to share our stories, no matter what our culture is, no matter what our religion is, gender identity, whatever it may be.

If we share our stories, we can understand each other souls, right and if we understand each other’s souls and our stories, then we’re never that far away from each other that’s that underlying, understanding within each other where we understand each other’s stories.

And I think that’s the most beautiful thing and about how you’re saying if people were to understand who you are. That’s where that passion comes from. If they see that you’re passionate about who you are and there, they know that you’re passionate about your music, your product, whatever it may be.

That’s how they fall in love with you, right? Same with businesses promoting their product on AHN, if I can see that they’re passionate about their music or they’re passionate about their product, then I feel passionate for them. If I can just see that they’re just promoting it, just to promote it.

Then there are so many other businesses out there where why do I have to support you if you’re just doing this one-time promotion. So, I honestly feel whatever you said, just now just gave me chills because you can see the difference between like someone who’s just promoting bringing the product out there or if they have a story, that’s, that’s the reason why they’re doing the business that they’re doing or the reason why they’re doing what they do.

Bryan: (00:22:12) I didn’t want to bring them back to your identity too. We talked, we touched upon this a little bit earlier as you’re getting eyes on you forming your identity, as you said before Asians and Asian Americans in general.

Once you get there, it’s a weird feeling, never had this much attention before and you feel like this is your opportunity to make a difference, but all eyes are on you. So how, how do you leverage that, that newfound fame to really make the world a better place?

Jason: (00:22:45) I don’t think I have that much fame. I’ve got friends I’ve got friends that I’ve got people who listened to me, but yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a track record now right. And for me, a lot of it is building up the people around. I think for me, it’s always been really important to invest in friendships and relationships, and this is something I’m very passionate about is the idea of like mentorship, right and, and pulling other people up around us. So, for me, whether that’s with my group night market which is my Chinese American trap crew, whether that’s with the night market, whether that’s with, I’ve got sort of a boutique artists services firm that some friends and I founded.

The goal has always actually been, from the day that I jumped out and started putting my solo music out. My goal has always been, to let me figure out what could work for me, and then once I’ve found a bit of a template, once I’ve established some best practices how can I give that to other artists who are doing the same thing, right. Because I think that this is again, going back to whether that’s with my family values or whether that’s just with, good community building values the goal has never been to be successful alone. The goal has been to be, to see our community successful right and you see this all the time, some, I think. I think it was Meek Mill or it was another rapper who said, it’s not about it. might’ve been Drake, come to think about it, but who said it’s not about whether you’re a millionaire or not, which I’m not but it’s about how many people around you are successful, right? Because if you’re the only successful person in your circle, that probably means that you are exploiting the people around you to get where you want that, right but if, if you’re successful and you’re surrounded by people who are themselves successful, then that means that you’re building each other up.

So, for me, a major, major focus of where I’m at now is trying to pass that on to other artists who are values-based artists, who want to have a message want to build a platform, want to know how to connect with those pockets of Asian America out there and beyond and because that’s what I think a lot of Asian America lacks, right.

People talk about, oh, what is it like the three levers of, of social engagement, right or social status and its political power and generational wealth and representation and we, a lot of the Asian American community don’t have any of that Asian Americans may have generational wealth but it’s definitely about this idea of passing things forward and not just keeping them locked away. I very much believe that the world is not a zero-sum game, right? So, the more that I can give to others, the better it reflects on me, and that even extends again, going back to the current moment and Black Lives Matter and this idea that Asian-American it’s not, yo let’s be vocal about anti-Asian racism during COVID 19, which, I know we’re all part of the hate is a virus team, which I know is a movement very near and dear to us and I love how our friends and that movement instead of saying, oh, no, we’re only going to talk about anti-Asian racism.

We’ve said, no hatred, racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, these are issues for all of us, right and I’m not queer personally. I’m not a woman, but these issues, these are things that I should speak up about and I’m trying to build up my platform, my Asian American platform, not so that I can just speak on our issues, but so that we can lend a hand when other communities are facing issues of their own, which again only makes us more credible when we speak up about our issues right and I think that this idea of winner takes all. That that’s not how any successful community does it, no successful community or individual or movement says, let me get mine, and then forget the rest of you, just show up for me, right? We win when we build strong networks that give to the people who need it at the moment. And then when it’s our turn to come around and say, hey, I need a favor now or hey, our issues coming to the forefront. Then we can call others in as well.

Bryan: (00:27:49) That’s a strong foundation for any strong partnership. They always talk to people too. I think having a giver’s mentality when you’re working with them. I always first, well really expecting anything. The return goes a long way because the world goes in a full circle, right? As you mentioned before, you can come from a taking mentality that you’re not going to get anywhere because you just establish yourself as a selfish person, as people, as a guy who always has an ulterior motive, you don’t want to be that guy. This not only pertains to the Asian community but to any other community, too. We want during a time when COVID is going off there’s someone’s racism against the Asian community. Do you want other communities to speak up on our behalf? It’s hypocritical for us to like, not to speak up during the Black lives movement and expect them to stand up for us during another incident.

Given that COVID, it’s still very much raging on right now and over the world and it’s really, you really have to come from like the giver’s mentality first in order to expect change and that also stems from like an abundance mentality. Yes. I think there are so many resources and so much money out there that all of us can succeed.

But unfortunately, what we see in the Asian community is that people come from a scarcity mindset almost 60% of the time. Now I would say 40% of the declare because we’re the first-generation, second-generation Asians now. You know, very well. So, it’s not for us, not about like, oh yeah, Jason, you and I had to lose.

If you started a concert, I cannot be an artist. It doesn’t work that way. There’s so much out there and you have to continuously build up people around you because everyone has a unique skill set that if you empower them in the right way, they will make the world a more beautiful place, different from yours, but it’s okay.

It’s always good to have an open type of mindset to look at that and hey, look, I can make you pretty my way. You can make it pretty your way. Let’s both do it together. It’s super important.

Maggie: (00:30:09) I think a lot of Asians feel the same way where if I have this certain idea, I’m not going to share it with others because someone else might take it right, but honestly, no one can do it your way. You have your style, you have your certain mentality, you have your own experiences and no one can take that away from you.

Bryan: (00:30:27) We have seen that a lot in the very early days of the Asian Hustle Network some guy would post, like, what would you do? You have $50,000 to invest in the first five homes. I’m not telling you, my idea. I was like, Jesus guys.

Maggie: (00:30:43) And there, why are you expecting me to tell my ideas?

Bryan: (00:30:45) It’s crazy watching the group evolve over time and calculate what we feel like the groups should be it’s open, sharing, helping each other, sharing your story, Jason, even powerful ass story, man and we want to be sure we have more people listen to your point of view because philosophy major, a rapper, activists.

Maggie: (00:31:09) Like Bryan said we know you’re an activist and you’ve been in like the founding team for the Hate is a Virus movement. Tell us a little bit about like, how you were able to use your platform, or if there was like a moment in time where you discover, hey, I have this platform and I can make positive social change. Was there a moment where you were like, I can do something to make positive change in this community?

Jason: (00:31:37) I think I’ve always, I always wanted to make that positive social change and I think as I’ve seen like my platform evolve and as I’ve seen, as I’ve been around a little longer, I remember back in the day, so, y’all probably know an MC Gin, right?

A pioneering Asian-American hip hop artist, and his team and his management team are friends of mine and back in the day, Ray journeyed with Gin for a very long time what he told me was just keep going you just keep going, and at a certain point,

You get this credibility of having been around of having spoken on things and his advice was kind of just stick to your guns figure out what you believe in, figure out what your core is, and then you just keep putting that into the world and believe in refinements, like you don’t just do one thing for 20 years.

Yeah, you got to see what’s working and see what isn’t, but kind of to the question is. We can’t make it and then switch up we can’t be like, yo, okay. I’m this dope rapper on this cool dude, listen to me, and then when you get big, you switch over to the like, oh, yo, listen let’s care about the world you kind of have a tap that bacon in from the beginning. If you don’t have that awareness, almost what it is you’ve got to set that down as part of your foundation so that when you get it’s always been there, right because I know that one thing that a lot of people are kind of wary about is when somebody blows up or gets, gets exposure, or builds a platform and then all of a sudden, they start caring about things.

Maggie: (00:33:40) Like performative activism, right?

Jason: (00:33:42) Let’s say Black Lives Matter becomes an issue. As soon as anti-Asian racism becomes an issue, then you start speaking up about it. But by that point, it’s almost too late right. By the time that, and we all know this, right. By the time that everybody’s talking about something, you look at Bitcoin, right. By the time that everyone’s talking about Bitcoin, that’s the wrong time to buy into BTC. Do you know what I’m saying? Like, you got to, you got to start when the movement starts.

So, you’re asking about when did I realize it, and for me, it was early on in my artistry and my movement. I said what? These are the things that I care about. I care about racial justice. I care about equality. I care about building up the community and always having that latent in my message.

And then it was almost to where when the world caught up not to say like, yo, I was this visionary, but to say you got to care about the things that, that you’re going to care about. When no one else cares about it because that’s when everybody catches up and starts saying, we need to find an Asian dude who can speak about black culture, who can speak about Asian-American arts, and who can put the two together instead of just being like, yo, I’ve had this dope career just talking about Asian shit but oh, now people care about black shit. So, I guess I’m going to like from, from day one, I’ve always said, the people who got me into hip-hop are like African-American community from there are recordings of me, I think from, 20 14, 20 13, talking about why Asian Americans need to care about black issues.

Why it’s important for people to understand Asian-American history and then now we’re starting to see people get into it and go we’re having these conversations about race and what’s, Asian-Americans placed in it to where I can point to a track record of 4 or 5, 6, 7 years and say  I’ve been thinking we’ve been doing this movement.

Not in a hipster I was on this way before. You’re not in a way but a hey if it’s time for these conversations, I’m ready for these conversations?

Bryan: (00:36:05) Honestly, I can sit here and listen to you talk all day, man. This makes a lot of sense, you’re right. It’s everything links to each other. You have to be consistent with who you are during day one. That’s really how you store capitalize and the opportunities that come your way to make a difference.

Jason: (00:33:42) Also known so a big one that Carl Choi who was also he was Jim’s manager for a long time. What Carl told me too was like you got to know what to say no to also. So that’s a big piece of the game too, is knowing which opportunities, right. When opportunities come your way, which ones are the like, yeah, I’m going to do this one. And which ones are the ones I’m going to pass on this one.

Not because it’s not a cool opportunity and it’s not the right fit for me right. And I think learning when to say no was a big step in my evolution of artistry. Like, as you said, Bryan, going from a scarcity mentality to an abundance, right. I’m not going to jump at every single opportunity.

Every single deal, every single performance I could do, because I know that some of those are not in line with the brand, I’m trying to build it, not in line with the character that I have right.

Bryan: (00:36:05) That’s super important to me, I think opportunities will come your way. It’s kind of like a weird mentality because you have a mindset to look for opportunities, you’re in a spot easily. Just it’s even like a casual conversation, someone, you just meet when you spot opportunities a hey like I want to learn more about this or can we possibly collaborate? It starts with you as a person to know what I mean, I always tell people too, like when you come to like a network situation, you don’t know you’re lying.

You’re not going to get anything out of it. They’re just going to meet people for the hell of it. Nothing wrong with that. But if you come in knowing what you want to do already, opportunities are everywhere and anyone can do it too. It’s not because you’re blessed or anyway, or you’re rich or so and so because your mentality is straight.

Maggie: (00:38:25) And people can see that people see right through you and if they can see that what you want, they will most likely throw themselves.

Bryan: (00:38:32) Law of Attraction.   

Jason: (00:38:34) A great story about that so there’s, there’s a girl now who’s a good friend of mine. This girl, Zaida Zang So she was the first Asian American signed a first Asian American woman wrestler signed to WWE and she’s a professional wrestler. She wrestles all around the world. She’s in Taiwan right now. She has all sorts of dope shit. So, there was a time when I’d seen her around in media.

I was like, yo, this, this girl is tight, yeah, and then there was one day when she posted on ACN Asian Creative Network, right and she was just like, yo, this is who I am. This is what I do and  I’m trying, to do a record. I do a new ring intro theme and I’m looking for a Chinese American rapper who can spit in Mandarin and so on.

And I didn’t even see it at first, but a couple of my friends or a couple of people, even who, who knew of me were like, yo, this is the guy for that and they tag and then she, and I just started building and now she’s a good friend of mine. We’ve got some, some stuff, some collaborations coming out, and even more than that, we’re just friends.

And we’re moving in the same circles and that was an opportunity. I think of exactly what you’re talking about to where I had established a reputation for being a certain kind of person and doing certain kinds of work. And it was just so natural for us to get together and instead of coming at her like, oh, you want to do X here are my rates.

And making it very formulaic. It was like, yo, I see where your heart is at. Let me show you where my heart is at and it became the best form of networking, which was not like here’s a consult and my rate and whatever it was just, yo, I see that you have a lot of value and vice versa and we just built and built opportunities for each other right naturally, yeah.

Maggie: (00:40:34)That’s the best. That’s what those are the very natural relationships 

Bryan: (00:40:30 That’s awesome so, do you have any tours coming up that we can know about, or do you have online events?

Maggie: (00:40:45) Yeah, let us know what you’re working on right now and then the next, I don’t know, six months or so.

Jason: (00:40:51) I’m not sure exactly when this one’s going to come out, but I have my new project Living Room, which is a record that exemplifies what we’re talking about because a year and a half ago, I wrote this record with, with one of my like close artistic collaborators this young Korean American producer called Elion Beats

We made this record. It’s very chill. It’s very low fi. It’s very vibey and then we shelved it because 2019, the vibes were just not there nobody was trying to stay at home, everyone was trying to just go out and have fun but then at the beginning of quarantine, we revisited it and we were like, yo, this is a perfect time to give people an album of music.

That’s just sort of about being at home, centering yourself, grounding yourself, reminding yourself that bringing peace in uncertain times, right? So, we put that out at the beginning of this month and people have been listening. People have been giving some really good feedback on Instagram, so that’s out and in the next single I don’t know if anybody else knows this. I haven’t noticed it, but in the next music video mood, my friend Allie Chiu who’s a dope Chinese American film director. She directed a music video over zoom for me. It was just easy in the home so that’s coming out this week while we’re taping this.

So that should be out. People should be able to find that on my social media and beyond that, I do have kind of a secret project that I’m working on to bring that record to people in a way that’s very life, that replicates kind of a house concert format. So, right now we’re looking for funding for that.

And if that works out, then hopefully, what we’re going to do is throw these live house concerts online for small groups of fans like 10 to 15 people at a time, and really bring people together around music, around conversation, around like therapy and meditation, and just have these experiences that remind people art can do a lot of things.

Art can be a festival where tens of thousands of people get together. Art can also deepen preexisting relationships. So that’s the goal, but right, right now the biggest thing is if, if people are looking for some kind of chilled-out music to rest to the quarantine, destress, there’s a lot of tension in the air. That’s what’s out right now.

Maggie: (00:43:38) You heard it here first, lots of big plans

Bryan: (00:43:43) Even for this project initiative. We can tell her from like give the first mentality. Do you sense from current events what’s going on? Your right everyone is stressed in their way. There’s so much going on this year is you’re, it’s insane.  Yeah. We appreciate its efforts, to give back to people and the fans and community and these are the things that are at least talked about too. That is therapeutic good for your mental health. Do what you’re doing? You’re creating projects around who you are, your own identity is so important.

Maggie: (00:44:45) I think like, and that’s in the middle of this pandemic like we’re all still expected to be at 100% of our products right and we’re still expected to work all the time. So, we never really talk about like how we’re doing emotionally. Like you said, and what you’re doing, it’s, it’s going to touch a lot of people it’s something that they didn’t know that they needed, but it’s something that is much needed.

Bryan: (00:44:47) I needed to calm myself.

Jason: (00:44:55) Thank you hopefully we can throw if we get this funded if we get it. Yeah, whatever supporting backing we need. Hopefully, we can throw some living room sessions for the AHN community and bring people together. That’d be, really, really fun.

Bryan: (00:45:08) That’d be dope, man, we’ll totally be supportive of that.

Maggie: (00:45:13) We are almost at the top of the hour. I want to ask this last question for you, Jason. If there was one message that you want to relay back to the community, whether it be like the Asian community or just the entrepreneurial community, what would that message be?

Jason: (00:45:33) Oh, I’m wearing this. I’m not going to show you my pants right now. Cause that’s weird, but it’s actually, it’s written on my pants right now and this is why so I have this slogan and my slogan is fear is easy. Hope is real and so it’s all pants right now because we did some merch with that, and then it’s, but I’m not going to put y’all through that.

But what is my message? From day one has always been that fear is easy and hope is real. Fear is so easy to give into whether that’s the fear of saying my friend, Simon Tam from the slants says this well. He says if I make a million dollars, I don’t need a million dollars.

I’m going to reinvest most of that into the community, right I’m going to do that without the fear of saying what if tomorrow I don’t have a million dollars, right. Because stuff comes and goes. When we operate I think another name for a scarcity mentality is a fear mentality, right.

Saying, shoot, if I give this away, what if I don’t have enough tomorrow, right? and this operates everywhere, right? This operates in relationships, right? Shoot. If I don’t get what I need from you then I’m going to feel unfulfilled. It operates in terms of so many ways. I think when we look at the world around us with fear in our hearts, now we start acting as though the worst is going to happen and nobody’s going to take care of us.

And I believe that the winning strategy is to live hopefully right. To live in hopes of what could happen. If I throw myself out there, not everything’s going to work, but I believe, and I believe that if we build strong communities, the community will have our back.

So, I hope that everybody out there who’s hustling is right. People have got a lot of different hospitals in it and I love all of them. We need real estate agents. Definitely. We need bankers and people who are handling the money, but in the end, are we building up all these things out of fear of not having enough?

Or are we building up all these things in the hopes that we’re creating structures that will build a brighter future? Yeah, so that’s, that’s what I’ll give.

Bryan: (00:48:11) It’s powerful. I mean, it’s amazing, man. That’s a powerful closing statement. I love it a little bit. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Thank you, Jason, for being on the show, we had a lot of fun, this entire conversation feels very translated. It’s chill, good conversation about who you are and what’s going on point of view, your lessons, who you are is it any other way that we can help you just reach out any time? But yeah. How can our listeners find out more about you and reach out to you?

Jason: (00:48:47) So, all my social media handles are at Jason Chu, music, Jason Chu music. So please, if you listened and this, this spoke to you hit me on Instagram, hit me on Facebook hit me kind of wherever and the new album living room is available on all streaming services. So, wherever you listen to music, I will be out there just searching my name, and it’ll pop up.

I hope that the music speaks to you and that some part of what I’ve gone through can resonate, with something you’re going through. 

Bryan: (00:49:23) Definitely on the show notes. Jason, thank you. Thanks for being on the show, Jason.