KONG: Family, THANK YOU ALL for an epic, historic, evening of love, legacy, and inspiration!!! MNTN, it was such an honor to have y'all rock the house! Theresa, Derek, and Taiyo, thank you for your music, spirit, and fellowship over the years. Chucky, brother, your spirit stays with us always. Gene and Jeff, welcome to the Homeward band ;) And gratitude to all of the amazing organizers—Amanda, Ricky, Ellie, Christine, Simone, Alahna, Keizo, Kai, Rob, Jeff (again), and more....
And a very special thank you to every single person who's ever summoned the courage to take a deep breath and share of themselves on the mic. To all of the family who've come to the bookstore to share their 2nd Fridays of the month with us...we love you. 10 years of East Meets Words—and we're just getting started!!
10th Anniversary of East Meets Words Family Photo!
KAI: Damn, I want to take some time to reflect on how bomb this 10th anniversary open mic was, man. I should note that my good friend, poet slash comic book artist, immigrant youth mentor, and Gryffindor supremacist VyVy Trinh (pictured here holding a phone) introduced me to East Meets words back in 2008 when she brought a bunch of us up from Brown University to kick it at the open mic. That year, VyVy and I were working as peer counselors for students of color at Brown and she brought Magnetic North to campus as part of Southeast Asian Heritage Week. We all got plugged in to this arts and activism community up here in Boston and I look back on those early days with much passion and nostalgia.
That made it a special honor to see Magnetic North and Taiyo Na perform here at EMW. I was impressed by their stage presence and I was feeling all of their songs, man. I thought they had tremendous emotional impact, from the anthem of inclusion "We Belong" to the light and breezy "Summertime." Shout out to my time in Vermont. Actually no, fuck my time in Vermont. So yo, Derek, Theresa, and Taiyo could all spit mad proficiently, but they each had a distinct style.
Derek AKA Direct was the technical virtuoso of the group, man. Dude had outstanding breath control and delivery and I later had a conversation with him on the Red Line (on the way to Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown) about how he came to develop that level of dopeness. I would tell you the conclusions of that conversation, but then I'd have to kill you. Yung Theresa AKA T-Vu was like the spiritual center of the group, man. Her shit just had mad depth and made you feel shit intensely. Landlord's girlfriend Mylinh Hoang was remarking to me that she and her friends freak out over that one line in the song "New Love" when T says:
"and we're vietnamese of course i feel ya
love how your name is so phonetically familiar
from the same homeland we got the same symmetry
from the same language where love means injury"
That's what I'm talkin bout right there, family. And then you got Taiyo. Yo when I seen this dude for the first time, I swear I seen a glow around him or something, like his aura or whatever. Shout out to Rick James. Now Taiyo ain't no joke on the mic, but what really stood about his contribution to the performance was the fact that this dude could really hold down them vocal cords on some young Sinatra shit. I mean Taiyo's got that dual threat. He's like a more progressive, better looking Japanese-American Drake and shit. What I'm trying to say is that he can sing.
In any case, the open mic was dope, man. Ten years of Asian American art and community organizing, and here's to ten more. The elders done laid down a strong foundation for us to continue to build and grow. As for ya boy, it brings me simultaneous pain and joy to report that I'll be moving to New York City in June of this year (i.e. two months from now) to pursue a residency in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Shout out to Columbia and Cornell. I'm affiliated with so many Ivy League schools now that my moms is only mildly disappointed in me.
Holler at me if you in the city. Stay creating.