Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Filipino rapper Shanti Dope shows why asian culture is more than stereotypes.
Let's start this off by saying asian stereotypes still exist. It is still shown in mainstream media whether you think it's an accident or not. Asians are still portrayed as the socially awkward nerd. We're depicted as the responsible eldest child or the timid doctor unwilling to take chances, doing everything by the book. Too often asians are highlighted as a small business owner in charge of running a decrepit laundromat. We're either hyper-sexualized and exotic or completely conservative, scared of our own shadow. You get the picture.
Newsflash – we're human too. Asians of all socio-economic classes have all sorts of issues. We've got real, social, economic, stressful, trivial problems we work through every day, like everyone else.
So when we see our fellow asian brothers or sisters going against the grain and doing something that actually should feel pretty normal, we celebrate it. The ones in Hollywood that are making an Asian superhero someone to look up to or the ones showcasing Asians and Asian-Americans as completely flawed like everyone else but normal at the same. These are the people that need to be celebrated. Shanti Dope is one of those peeps.
If you haven't heard of Shanti Dope, we're not surprised. We're disappointed you haven't, but not surprised. You see he's most well-known in Asia and Australia, but he's working his way around to the states. A #Filipino-born rapper isn't your run-of-the-mill story you hear in publications online, but it should be.
We came across Shanti Dope a few years back when he released his song "Shantidope" with fellow Pinoy rapper Gloc-9. We know the BTS juggernaut started out with a similar rap sound in their native tongue a few years ago as well, but rapping in Tagalog feels a bit edgier. Not only that, Shanti Dope rapping about real topics such as the drug wars in the Philippines or seeking out more than material success, helps us move past typical Asian stereotypes.
Fast forward a few years, and he's definitely grabbed the proverbial 'mic' from Gloc-9 and his fellow Filipino artists. At only 20 years old, he's taken significant steps making tons of people in the music industry take notice. Taking some cues and inspiration from his mentor Gloc-9, he's a masterful lyricist and songwriter that tell his stories in a philosophical perspective. Put his poetry on top of completely sick beats and it's a recipe for not only catchy tunes but a tidal wave of stardom.
After a brief pause due to the pandemic, Shanti has come back in full force. Have you heard of a little show called "Falcon and the Winter Soldier?" It's put on by this company called #Disney and #Marvel? You have right? Of course you have. His song 'Amatz' was featured as our heroes were waltzing into the fictional country-state of #Madripoor. And we're 1000% sure people who watched the show went to YouTube to look up the song because it is fucking awesome. (Fun fact: Filipino is one of the main languages of Madripoor).
We're looking for bigger and better things as the world starts to return to a bit of normalcy. And even if we're still on high alert because of the pandemic, look for Shanti Dope to continue to impress us with his musings on the world that surrounds him, from a macro and micro level.