Amidst the calls for increased diversity and representation in certain areas of the arts such as film and television, music is often left out of the conversation. Music often thought of as a more diverse industry because of the different genres and sounds that are both accepted and profitable within it. But what happens when a genre that was born out of outcries for racial equality actually causes a disparity of its own?
Bad Rap, a documentary made by Salima Korma which recently screened at the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto, chronicles the careers of four Asian-American rappers as they try to make a name for themselves in a primarily black industry. The film uses a mixture of personal talking heads and behind-the-scenes footage to give the audience a glimpse into the struggle for Asian-Americans to break out in an industry where they are seen as the Other, despite their obvious passion and skill.
Throughout the film, Bad Rap demonstrates the universality of experience, and how believing stereotypes is a great way to distance yourself from art that may speak to you. The four rap-artists who are featured — Dumbfoundead, Rekstizzy, Awkwafina, and Lyricks — are all portrayed as unique individuals with a sound of their own and something to say. If nothing else, Bad Rap is a film that proves that it does not matter who you are or where you come from; if you have talent and something interesting to give, there will be people ready to receive it.