Category Archives: Unofficial Home of Official Homies

people i like and i think you should like too

New STUDENT17.COM Launch!

My Thursday post is coming early because I’m so amped off this shit.  My blogdawg Mikey just dropped his new site tonight!!! DON’T SLEEP.

This dude is a design magician. He is an illustrator, web designer/flash programmer extraordinaire. And I mean this with absolutely NO HOMIE BIAS. (I know I’ve said that before…but damn, I can’t help it if my friends are dope).

Click here for WWW.STUDENT17.COM

Congratulations dawgy.


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A Yasumasa Yonehara (YONE) Original!!


This is my homie Square.  He’s one of the illest artists around.   And I mean that with absolutely no homie bias. NONE!! He’s one of Boston’s best–ASK SOMEBODY!

Anyways, in this photo we were chilling at some Puma x DJ Hero shindig last night (DJ Hero puts me to sleep).  The photo is taken by world renowned Japanese photographer, Yasumasa Yonehara a.k.a. YONE!  He’s in town from Tokyo for his art show this Friday (Ask somebody!). YONE takes super sexy photos of hot girls.  His philosophy is MAKE LOVE NOT WAR.  Literally.  Before you judge the raunchiness, take a moment to think about Japan’s terribly suppressed sex culture (they got blow up sex doll shops, pay-by-the-hour…..).  What does the term “American/Imperialist Aggression” mean in the context of war?  When someone becomes “sexually frustrated”, what happens? They BLOW UP!  All puns intended, yadidameeeean!  I’m still processing my feelings on it.  Judge for yourself: Yasumasa Yonehara

The photo above was taken with the camera below. FUJI INSTAX!  CALLING ALL SANTAS, hollaaaa:


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THESE PEOPLE CHANGED MY LIFE.  They are also three of the most nationally acclaimed spoken word poets in America, from HBO Def Poetry to your HOMES! Now, they are all going on tour together. Oh, the damage!!

Giles Li: My poetry sensei.  He was the very first person to put me on to the world of spoken word poetry.

I remember before I met Giles, I was mad.  He was the new mentor and coordinator for a Youth Program I was doing and I was mad he was replacing Sophia Kim, a woman I wanted to work with.  I didn’t really want to meet him.  The only Giles I knew at the time was the weird librarian from Buffy the Vampire Slayer–so I had a double negative pre-impression of him.  All my prejudgments were quickly proved wrong.  When I finally got to know Giles, I remember thinking how calm he was ALL THE TIME.  His expressions were hard to read.  But I finally realized that fiery passion doesn’t always have to brew in a volcanic vault.  You don’t have to prove yourself in every moment.  Watching Giles perform was my first spoken word show.  He was so funny, witty and passionately expressive in a way I had never seen before.  That’s when I started to realize words & performance to be a catalyst for exploring other parts of you.  I love Giles’ poetry because it crushes the cliche, it is brutally honest without brashness and it is always a step ahead of my thoughts.

Bao Phi: My Vietnamese sensei.  He showed me that Vietnamese people can write poetry, too. Holla.

I met Bao through Giles.  I already wrote about HOW FREAKIN’ AWESOME Bao is in an earlier post and to keep things fair, you can check it out HERE.

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai: Warrior of words.  She brings the fire and the wind all in one breath.

I also met Kelly through Giles.  She was a guest performer at a youth leadership conference I organized in high school.  I remember thinking how bad she was with that tattoo but also how fierce she was with her voice.  I think she’s one of the best spoken word poets out there not only in performance and content, but also in soul and purpose.  She is one of the few artists I’ve met that understands the need to forward an art form rather just exploit the art form for personal gain.  There aren’t very many empowering role models of Asian American women out there, especially in the mainstream.  Unless you want to count Tila Tequila as an “empowering” role model because she uses fake boobs and sex to snatch fame (the pain she did to our last name!!).  But anyways, in 2006 I opened for Kelly at a Locus Arts show in San Francisco.  She told me she liked my poems and that meant the world to me.

Get more information on the Verse/Us Tour here.


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BODEGA PUMP 20 Launch ft. Arnold

Last night I went to the BODEGA PUMP 20 LAUNCH Party and it was awesome.

One of my homies, Marv, worked on designing this shoe.  It’s funny having friends who design shoes and apparel then their shit comes out and I’m like, “YOU’RE FAMOUS!! ON HIS FEET! AND HER BREAST!”  Like when celebrity faces hit billboards except kinda not really.

The party had a cool military theme going on, with the movie PREDATOR projected on the wall.  Then I was reminded of my California days with good old governor Arnold.

How can anyone take this man seriously after this:

and this:

Based on historical patterns, it appears that the American people love voting for politicians based on religion, facial symmetry and muscles, maaaang!

Visit Bodega Here.

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My First Protest: Asian Americans & Activism

A few weeks back, awesome mentor, friend, inspiration and poet, Bao Phi, hit me up to contribute to his blog series on Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.  Bao is one of the most modest people I know–so he won’t tell you that he is one of the most renowned poets in America right now, a pioneer in the Asian American activist and spoken word community and definitely an icon in the Vietnamese American community (I try to be in all three spheres which makes me a major idolizer).

Bao is a TWO TIME Minnesota Grand Poetry Slam champ, TWO TIME poetry slam champ at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York, the first Vietnamese American man to have appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, a National Poetry Slam Individual Finalist (where he placed 6th overall out of over 250 national slam poets) and he has a poem published in the 2006 Best American Poetry Anthology…and he has time to be friend…and a mentor…and a dedicated community activist and organizer…and more recently a proud father and partner…and…am I leaving anything out? Most likely I am. Just try Googling him and you’ll see how much I failed to mention here.

I remember when I was just a teenage twerp doing teenage twerp poems, and Bao was one of those people who took the time to reach out to me.  At the time, I didn’t know why such a celebrity status poet made the effort to guide me (I still don’t), but I can honestly say it has been one of the most meaningful relationships in my growth as an artist, writer and Vietnamese American.  I’ll just fast forward to the point of this post now.  Bao asked me (and several others) to write a response to “My First Protest: Asian Americans and Activism” for his blog series. He recently posted it online.  Now I thought I’d share the piece I submitted:

My First Protest: Asian Americans and Activism by Yours Truly

My first protest came in the form of standing on my high school auditorium’s stage in front of several hundred people, delivering a poem by I Was Born With Two Tongues called, “Excuse Me, AmeriKKKa”.  I went to a wannabe-prestigious-snooty-attitude public high school called Boston Latin School (BLS)—also known as the first public school in America, also known as the alma mater of Benjamin Franklin, also known as the school that drives kids crazy—literally.  There was a tradition at BLS called Public Declamation—established as a custom to build public speaking skills via the works of old white men such as Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates, Thomas Jefferson and other such figures to instill us with the “time-honored tales of values and wisdom”.   During quarterly Public Declamations, every class was forced to sit in the auditorium and listen to recycled speeches surrounding the same topics such as slavery, emancipation, THIS GREAT NATION, manifest destiny and fancy colloquialisms about expansion (and the conquer everything mentality).  Month after month, the performances started to feel like an incredibly outdated sermon on loop.  I felt a sense of deceit and trickery in the conspiracy to ingrain Western colonial philosophies and the oppressive rhetoric of white legacy by means of a public speaking façade; the system had implemented a way to filter orthodox ideas through fresh faces and young voices of my own generation.  As great as my fear of the stage was, I could not bare to sit in the auditorium seat any longer and be forced to listen to the voices of old white men coming out of the mouths of my oblivious young peers.  Shoot, if people were being forced to miss class and listen to a bunch of dumb teenagers yap, then I wanted to make people listen to the Asian American experience.  So I tried out for Public Declamation.

If you know the poem, “Excuse Me, AmeriKKKa”, then you can imagine how uncomfortable that auditorium got.  If you’ve never heard of the poem before, then this post is missing the real punch-in-the-gut hit behind the thesis.  The poem is a direct address to white “Amerika” illustrating vivid and historical indictments of racism, sexism, colonialism and oppression–content so fearlessly explicit it even failed to meet the Strib’s blog-friendly publication regulations (no lie!).  It is the kind of poem to induce nervous eye-widening “Did she just say that???” reactions.  Best of all, “Excuse Me, Amerikka” is a poem for the pumping fist and double middle fingers waving defiantly in the air.

I must admit, looking back at these lines and the look of horror it put on every teenage twerp’s face, makes for a hilarious memory.  Teachers and advisors absolutely hated the idea of me performing this piece.  They tried convincing me to do Shakespeare instead.  They felt I was tarnishing the image and reputation of a classical tradition.  They did everything they could to keep me off that stage.  But I resisted.  And eventually they ran out of arguments to justify their stance.  So there I was.  The quiet fifteen year old Vietnamese girl all the teachers thought were so sweet and innocent (because she always handed in her homework on time) taking the stage to drop some F bombs and scream about how messed up Amerikkka is to a bunch of juvenile dirtbags and pink flamingo owners.  I soon became known as the “Angry Asian Girl” which interestingly made the Asian kids like me more, the white kids kiss up to me and the teachers plain confused.


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Mus Def DOWNLOAD: ib4the1.1 by iLL-Literacy


Boys, boys, boys, boys…boys I do adore…

I remember the first time I saw iLL-Literacy perform.  It was back in the fall of 2005, I was visitin iLL homie Adriel in the Bay and I was their default road dawg for the day as we drove 2 hours back and forth from Berkeley to Santa Cruz.  I was so geeked when I got put in charge of protecting their GET LIT lighters and chapbooks at the merch table while they put their game faces on in the green room.  Needless to say, the show was bangin’!  With opening 8 bars to spitfire poems, I found myself slipping further into the present moment with the onrush of words.  Over the years, I’ve taken great indulgence in seeing their artistic evolution reshape creative fronts and constantly inspire all those around them.  Don’t be fooled, there is so much honesty behind those plastic legohead facades.  Never settling, always innovating, the first release of iLL-Literacy’s ib4the1 marks only the beginning of a mouthwatering adventure to unfold.  GOOD SHIT!


Track Listing for iB4the1.1:
1. HihowRu
Additional contributions by Smashley Johns (vocals)

2. Gentleman’s Kool-Aid
Additional contributions by Rufus Redbone (vocals) & Billy Hi-Life (bass)

3. The HereNow
Additional contributions by Jeremy “Passion” Manongdo (vocals), Billy Hi-Life (bass) & Sammy Hi-Life (guitar)

4. Finding Emo
Additional contributions by Ruby Veridiano-Ching (vocals),

5. Circus Nights
Additional contributions by Rufus Redbone (vocals) & Sammy Hi-Life (guitar)

All songs produced by Dahlak, co-produced by Ada Clock

About iB4the1.1: iB4the1 is an epic. The debut album from iLL-Literacy premiers in three parts– each approximately 25 minutes in length, and suited best for a short car drive…or upon the back of a spiny-toothed wombat in Africa, while watching Planet Earth on mute. The first of the three acts is simply entitled iB4the1.1. Despite its brevity,.1 is grand in its effort to bridge sampled voice and original instrumentation, experimental music and hip-hop narrative.

The sound of iLL-Literacy—architected by group member Dahlak with the assistance of producer Ada Clock, along with the contributing imaginations of N.I.C and Drizzletron—draws character from an unusual blend of influences, spanning funk, afro beat, alternative, soul and of course hip-hop.  iB4the1 is a presentation of iLL-Literacy in total humility and acknowledgement to all those who have come before and to the artists they are to become. This is iLL-Lit before the start. The prequel to the saga. iLL-Lit before the One. Take that how you want.

About iLL-Literacy: Toggling between daydream and full-blown hallucination, iLL-Literacy is a music and performance collective that fuses elements of funk, hip-hop, spoken word, and interactive theatre for a sound and live experience that draws as much from the rich artistic and political history of its Oakland hometown as it does from the experimental and imaginative inclinations of its current Brooklyn base.  In their recorded debut, iB4the1, members Dahlak, N.i.C, and Drizzletron work everything from the ground up – from in-house production, to self-directed music videos, to the development of a new approach to musical interaction that intimately involves the listener throughout the inception, production, and promotion of the final product.  Please join iLL-Literacy at


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The highly anticipated mixtape by Jarell Perry is finally here!!! DOWNLOAD NOW.

When everybody is talking about the fiery cosmic collision from outer space to mark the end of the world in 2012, Jarell Perry is a rising star shooting straight into the future.  Even after I shed all my best biases about my best buddy, I can still say he is one of the most talented artists currently on the grind.  I’ve seen JP independently hustle his way through the music industry, from webcam cover songs to international collaborations.  With every move he makes, he most definitely knows how to leave a lasting impression.  Above all, his music is amazing.  Bringing back the true groove of R&B, he writes and sings his own songs.  He used to produce his own music until OTHER music producers started throwing themselves at JP for the chance to make music FOR him to sing on.  Everyone’s trying to get JP to slap his name on their shit.  Good shit.  Enjoy the free download while you can, because this homie is most definitely getting signed very very soon.  Watch out now.

I take hella pride in being able to say “That’s MY homie!!!!”

Visit his full website at :

What does the title of On My Own, the first full-length mixtape from singer-songwriter Jarell Perry, really mean for the rising R&B artist?

As JP will tell you himself, the long-awaited release mostly serves as a testament to the last two years spent forging his path to a big break: producing and/or writing all of his own material, attracting thousands of new fans by designing his own website, Myspace, and YouTube series, and playing countless shows at L.A. clubs and his alma mater, UCLA.

On My Own, set for viral release on Friday, November 13th, is a part of that story. “It’s really a picture of where I’ve been and where I’m going, musically speaking,” he says. The destination? A smart blend of inspirational R&B, piano-pop, and hip-hop swing. Enlisting the help of top indie producers like The Skiii Team, UniqueSound Ent., Nobody Famous, Mr. Clean, Mike Rizzy, and Vizion, Jarell is careful to mention that none of it would’ve been possible without gifted collaborators, true friends, and a growing band of international supporters. “I think the real moral of my story is that you’re never alone.”

After stumbling upon the recording game his freshman year in college, Jarell Perry quickly rose from ten-dollar RadioShack microphones to in-studio writing sessions for major-label artists. Most of this album, however, was written in the humble apartment studio where he feels the most comfortable. Recent followers will be pleased to find crowd favorites like “Indestructible”, “Change Your Mind”, and “Universal Love” on this release along with many others.

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