Vietnamese Chinese Rapper – Jay Differ

In the UK, there are a growing number of Oriental artists trying to make it into the main stream. Record companies and labels should take more notice of the brilliant music that the British Chinese/East Asian community are producing. In the USA, the Far East Movement were the first Oriental/Asian band to have a number 1, so this can also happen in the UK. Nee Hao talks to MC and lyricist; Jay Differ, born and bred in South London. He is half Vietnamese and Chinese.

How did you get your name?

Jay Differ is my stage name, Jay short for my first name Jason and Differ comes from everyone saying I ‘Differ from the rest’, I’ve always thought it was cheesy but it was a name that just stuck with me lol

What’s your music about?

I make hip-hop and RnB music. I started rhyming since I was 12 years old, although I never really took it seriously until a year ago.

Jay Differ on stage, photo by D. Dinh

What are your musical inspirations?

I try to keep the genres of music I listen to as broad as possible, I feel that if I only listen to one type of music I’m closing myself off from the rest of the world. I see music as a kind of news report on a beat. If I don’t listen to other genres how do I know what else is going on & how other people are living?  Artists such as Tupac, Eminem, 50 Cent, Michael Jackson, Good Charlotte inspires me.

People say the lyrics in your songs are very real to life, who writes them?

Everything I say on a song, is written by me. I refuse to allow anyone to write stuff for me cause it’s not real.. How am i supposed to enjoy making or listening to the song if I really can’t relate to it or it doesn’t come from the heart? I write about anything I see, hear or feel. ‘Normal’ stuff I go through in life.. Whatever the beat tells me to write, I write it. The time it takes depends on what the concept & duration of the song is.. I like to take my time but when I’m really in the mood and feel inspired a song can take about an hour to write.

How did you make your music video?

I hooked up with Izzy Rahman from IR Media & he really liked my stuff, then offered to shoot a video for me the next day so I called a few of the boys out from the area and  we did our thing. It was really spontaneous and fun, and  there will be many more videos shot by IR Media so watch out!

Have you ever been accused of trying to be black?

I tell them.. define ‘acting black’, grow up and then get back to me.

Do you eat with chopsticks at home?

Yes I do, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t would it. I can’t do nothing amazing like catching the annoying fly buzzing around the dinner table in the kung fu films, but I’m proud to say I can use them. I even get my non Asian friends to give it a go too.

What do you do to chill?

I like the simple things, chilling with my friends is always top of the agenda. Playing PS3, going on road trips, A quiet drink or a BIG meal.. Food is a major thing for me, the right meal can make anyone happy. My favourite meat is chicken so ladies feel free to invite me around for dinner

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

5 years? I don’t really plan that far ahead, I like to take every day as it comes and see what life has in store for me. Although I would love to be able to travel and  hopefully start some tours by then, have a few CDs out and  just continue to do what I love doing which is making GOOD music!

What’s those T shirts about?

DifferEnt Lifestyle Tee’s.. These are t-shirts I’ve designed & put together to allow everyone to show some support. I wear mine daily and plan on doing a million more designs so if anyone wants one leave a message on my Facebook page.

What gigs have you recently done?

I’ve performed in a few places, mainly clubs & bars all around London. I have a few charity gigs coming up this month which I’m helping to raise money for people suffering from meningitis. It’s always important to give back to the world, I’m grateful to be fairly healthy and have a roof over my head so I like to give back to the people that are less fortunate as much as I can.

Is there a message you want to give to your fans old and new?

Yes, I would like to thank all the people who have supported me since I started making music, and I will always try my best to represent, to keep it real and present it in a DIFFERENT way.

 

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2 comments

excellent! gd luck, jay.

btw, nee hao, “oriental” is derogatory in the USA (bit like “ch***k”), so there’s been a change by the arts council / some writers+journalists to use the phrase “East Asian” when describing anyone east of india & west of the americas (this embraces diaspora grps as well)

see Edward Said’s book, Orientalism. Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw

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