“We are different in terms of culture even though I still cannot find an example to illustrate this, but I can feel that they are really nice people who are frank and have a genuine heart,” Wong says.
Dope Boy’s Kaliandasani also treasures this subtle bonding with Wong and what hip-hop has brought them. “When we were filming cypher 2.0, it looked like we had known each other forever, but this was the first time we met,” he says.
Hip-hop has taught Kaliandasani not to magnify the differences between people. He does not see language as a barrier that hinders communication between the Chinese and ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Rather; it is perception that matters.
“I just feel like because there is nothing bringing them together. There’s nothing that links them which is why people have that ego, or they still have the mindset that, they are not like us,” says Kaliandasani. “For us, it is something that brings us together which is hip-hop.”
Dhillon Jeevan Singh, 21, is another ethnic minority rapper who raps mostly in English and sometimes in Punjabi. He participated in Hong Kong Underground Cypher 2.5, and received attention for rapping in Cantonese for the first time.
Singh says he just wanted to show an ethnic Indian could also rap in Chinese. He says he usually feels more comfortable speaking to others in his own community, but rap allows him to put aside his ethnicity. “When it comes to music it doesn’t matter where you are from, it just connect, that’s the most amazing thing,” he says.
Although rap builds a bridge between the Chinese and the ethnic minorities, Singh suggests that local Cantonese rappers rarely step out of the box because the Chinese community is still quite reserved.
But Singh still believes that being an ethnic minority opens more doors for him than it closes. “If you can speak Chinese, as an ethnic minority, and you also make music, they understand your music. They start to break their stereotype,” he says.
Edited by Katrina Lee