Rapper Dumbfoundead Takes On Hollywood's Whitewashing Of Asian Roles
If you’ve been taking a shot every time Hollywood whitewashes Asian roles or just straight up doesn’t cast Asian actors in lead roles, you’re probably on the verge of alcohol poisoning. From Ghost in the Shell’s Scarlett Johannsson nightmare to the fact that, in 2014, only five percent of characters in the top 700 grossing films were Asian, it’s clear that the entertainment industry has a problem–despite there being no shortage of capable Asian actors to take on lead roles. Now, the hard-rapping, stomach-pumping antidote to all those shots you took is here, and his name is Dumbfoundead. Straight out of the Koreatown district of Los Angeles, the Korean-American rapper born Jonathan Park has been creating music since 2005, and now, with his video for the song “Safe,” he’s ripping into Hollywood’s casting problem one brilliant pop culture reference at a time.
Plastering his face into scenes from Game of Thrones, Fast & Furious, The Brady Bunch, and more, Dumfoundead broods over unflinchingly critical lyrics inspired by the #OscarsSoWhite shitstorm. “After the last Academy Awards and the regular whitewashing of Hollywood roles, I wrote this song out of frustration,” he explained in a statement with the release of the track.
As the track opens and his alt-1950s nuclear family sits down to watch TV, his lyrics hold nothing back. “The other night I watched the Oscars and the roster of the only yellow men were all statues,” he raps. “We a quarter of the population there’s a room of fuckin’ 1 percenters laughing at you.” It’s equal parts shady and searing, which is exactly what Hollywood needs right now.
Now that Park has clapped back at the entertainment industry and singlehandedly provided a cure to the whitewashing trend in the span of his four-and-a-half-minute video, it’s time to get acquainted with the rapper. From Drake to bail bondsmen, here are five facts to know about Dumbfoundead.
He’s From Argentina to Koreatown by Way of the Mexican Desert
Before he made it to Koreatown at the age of three, Park, his sister, and his parents emigrated into the country from Argentina, but the journey wasn’t easy. “When I was about three, my sister was only one, we immigrated to Los Angeles. My dad went ahead first, but [me, my sister and my mom] had to cross into Mexico and through the coyotes, sneak us through the border and all that,” he told Noisey. “My mom was carrying two babies all that way. She said it was very scary, going through that, because even if there were other families there with her, she was the only Asian chick.”
He’s A High School Dropout Who Moved Out At 16
After a string of marijuana-influenced truancies that put Ferris Bueller to shame, Park dropped out of Marshall High School midway through 10th grade. In the aftermath of leaving school and escaping his tumultuous family life, he moved into an apartment at 16 years-old with his younger sister and tried to balance his heavy partying with odd jobs and making sure his sister finished high school.
“Before I started doing music full-time, I had dozens of shitty day jobs. I was working at Farmer’s Insurance, at M Grill at the counter. I was a licensed bail bondsman getting up at odd hours to interview people in jail and try to sell them bonds,” he explained to LA Weekly.
The Come Up in LA’s South Central Rap Scene
Two years before he dropped out of school and moved into his own apartment, Park began rapping at his local café Luna Del Sol’s open mic nights. From there, he spent his freshman year freestyling at parties before he discovered the hip-hop collective called Project Blowed at Leimart Park. From there, he became a well-known figure, winning freestyle competitions and carved out a reputation–and the Dumbfoundead name–but then took on a hiatus from battle rap for years.
A Drake-Approved Return to Rap, Viral Fame, and A$AP Ferg Collabs
After amassing a huge online following with clips from his freestyles, Dumbfoundead returned to battle rapping last year to take part in Drake and OVO’s event, King of the Dot Blackout 5. Before the event began, the 6 God himself complimented him on his talent.
Soon enough, the world caught on with a battle that became the most popular English rap battle of 2015. Pitted against a rapper named Conceited, the pair’s fiery video has amassed nearly 5 million views. Drake wasn’t the only superstar to praise Dumbfoundead’s skill. In the past year, the rapper has worked with noted emcees that range from Wacka Flocka and A$ap Ferg to Father, Keith Ape, and more.
Oh Yeah, and he Does Stand Up Comedy Too
As if his rap career weren’t enough to keep him busy, Park also does stand up about once a month. He performs under his real name, and from his first set at the infamous Laugh Factory, he’s been killing it. Well, according to him. “I’m not trying to brag, but I did really well. I was surprised. After I got off-stage and realized that I didn’t bomb, I had this crazy new high,” he shared. “I felt like performing the next day, until I realized getting gigs isn’t that easy. But I have the bug and I have my ten minute set down pat.” From skewering Hollywood whitewashing and being a freestyle rap legend to nailing a comedy routine, there may be no limit to what Dumbfoundead can do.
Images via Tumblr, Christina Paik, Oogeewoogee, and Dumbfoundead.
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