Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Amie Nguyen and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I basically started this music thing nine years ago. It was just free-styling, doing battles here and there, all with friends. Then we met this producer and he brought us in. He was actually the one that brought us into the studio and recorded with me when I was 19. We just put a bunch of tapes together, along with Drunk Fist crew, which includes myself, my man Shinobi, Suspicious, and Mouse.
Your alias was Chinx, which stood for “Chinese History Is Now Explained.” Can you tell us why you went with this name before and the reason for the transition to J. Moy to title your songs?
Well, both are really my real name. My real name is Jeff Chin Kit Moy so when I was younger, people would call me Chinky Chinks. I figured to just stick with it. Then we made it into an acronym. The reason I switched is because I thought it would have been a better look for us. J. Moy is my real name anyway so either way it worked for us.
As a neophyte in the scene, how has the journey been so far to where you are now?
It’s been hard but fun. You learn things. Some people don’t even give us the time of day because we are Asian. We were literally the only Asian people in the whole crowd when we went to these competitions in the States. Every performer was black. People underestimated us so it works towards our advantage.
How was your experience in New York City’s ‘The Source’s Unsigned Hype Talent Search’? What other places in terms of the hip-hop game did winning the New York Division and featured in The Source magazine allow you to take yourself as a Canadian Asian rapper to that you weren’t able to set foot in before?
Like I said, when I first got to the stage, they had no expectations. When I did, then I kind of blew them out of the water. Some of them were good too, but I think they probably gave it to me because I was Asian. Everyone else was doing the same stuff, they were doing their gangster or club songs and they all sounded and looked the same. Then they see a Chinese guy come out and do something completely different, so that’s probably why they gave it to us.
After joining the Drunken Fist crew, what did you bring into the group of rappers and producers that wasn’t in the collective before? Furthermore, tell us about the support that Drunken Fist has helped you with and where you plan to bring this collective in the future?
That’s a family, right? Before music, we all grew up together as kids. Like I said, we would just do a bunch of freestyle and beat box sessions together. They made me who I am, more or less. If you meet the rest of the crew, you can see where I come from because we are a family and they helped me craft my music. All the beats are made in house. We do all our productions as well.
Other than the obvious with you being Chinese, why else have you decided to align your first album with so many Chinese influences and sounds?
Because I am proud of being Chinese. I am Chinese and I am not trying to be anything else so I am just going to tell everybody that I am Chinese and when the album drops, they are going to know because you guys have obviously seen the Jet Li movie ‘Once Upon A Time In China’– it’s where we got the title from. I choose to put my album with that name because it’s my first record. It’s the beginning of my story so that’s why I chose that title.
As an Asian artist, we’re often not taken as seriously as maybe a black rapper or even a white rapper. Why do you think this almost racist divide exists? If it’s not racism, is there something that most Asian rappers are doing wrong?
I think people put it by race because obviously, hip-hop was started by the African Americans and when they see a Chinese guy do it, they don’t want to believe it, but then, like I said, everything we rap about in our album is true. We are not out there talking about fabricated stuff. So when people take in the music, they start believing in it as well. Like I said, it works towards our advantage but it is also our disadvantage because people don’t want to give you that chance to begin with.
Tell us about some of your personal opinions of the negative aspects of the Canadian hip-hop industry?
Now it’s good, although before no one really wanted to give a look at Canadian artists, especially at Asian artists, right? Now that Drake blew up, everyone is coming to Canada to look for talent. They are not categorizing us as simply Canadians anymore, they just want good music. Drake basically kicked the door open and now everyone is coming to Toronto. He put Toronto on the map. People are now accepting that there are many talented Canadians so it’s actually not that bad living in Canada doing music nowadays.
As you continue to grow as an up-and-coming artist, what are your plans in diminishing the above into positive energy and progression?
Definitely, we do our thing and we basically collaborate with anybody in the city. Like on the record, we have six to seven artists from Toronto that are doing big things already. I work with everybody and I am part of the movement. If Toronto is moving up, we are part of that already. We work with every artist out there, not just Canada but international. If there is a producer from Hong Kong that has beats, send it. If you guys got beats from Vancouver, send it. We will rock with you guys, you know what I mean?
Being a Chinese rapper, have you ever been compared to any other rappers out there? What are your views upon this comparison?
Oh yeah, I have been compared to Jin since day one, right off the bat. Especially when we were battling too. Most of the lines that people will come at me with are “Jin knock-off!” and stuff like that. As an Asian artist, they compare me with Jin, but my style of music, they compare me with Fabulous and LL Cool J. I don’t think I compare to those guys, but that is whatpeople tell me I sound like.
It’s just my life man, everything I write about is something that I’ve experienced or something that I have been going through at the time. I rap about anything I want, you know what I mean? That’s where I pull my experiences from— my family, Drunken Fist crew, my girl, all of that. Everything in my life influences me, that’s why all the songs are different and that’s why it’s not the same sound in every song. I am writing my rap and I am writing my life.
What is HYPE?
Life is HYPE. Life is what you make it. If you make your life HYPE, your life is HYPE. If you make your life shit, then it is going to be shit. I get HYPEd off my life. You know what I mean?