So, Chinese pop star Wang Lee Hom says his new album Heroes of Earth is “chinked-out.” We wondered if this phrasing would offend some people. “I don’t find ‘chink’ offensive,” one Chinese-American we polled said. “I think it’s stupid, but I think Wang Lee Hom is stupid.” Curiously, this person did seem to know a lot about Mr. Wang: “He’s actually American … upstate New York, Rochester about … went to Williams, Berklee School of Music … has studio in Boston … born 1976 … MVP of his high school baseball team … three years running … little brother at MIT.” We interrupted: “You are reading this from a website, right? Please say you are reading this from a website.” He said he wasn’t. We got freaked out and ended the conversation there. (But from the image attached to this post we can also assume that Wang also likes to ski … with 1980s hair and clothing.)
Wang was in Shanghai recently, you can watch a KTV-ready video of him signing autographs over at YouTube. There we also found out that Wang is not very good at speaking or reading Chinese — at least five years ago he wasn’t.
By the way, here is Wang’s definition of “chinked-out”:
The term “chinked-out” comes from “chink,” which was used to put down Chinese people. “Chinked-out” turns the negative meaning of “chink” upside-down, and uses it as material to form a musical style.
Chinese pop music does not have a strong enough feature. Instead of imitating other countries’ popular songs, we can focus on developing our own sound, drawing from the rich resources that abound in Chinese culture. This is how the conception of “chinked-out” music came out.
Image from Shanghai Diaries.