Breaking the Asian Stereotypes with Jaeson Ma

Though brief, but Letter F managed to have a chat with the man behind many of Asian rising stars in the hip hop industry.

Born and raised in the West with a strong Asian background made Jaeson grow up to have a strong personality, he always knew what he wanted and the steps to achieve it. And in between the road and the plan, Jaeson never forgets to be grateful to the Creator. With his key knowledge in music and business, Ma founded East West Ventures in 2012 and 88rising in 2015, making the two platforms as a movement to boost the unheard Asian talents.

You’ve been into music your whole life, but what made you decide that it is time for you to make the change?
“If you look at the western media for the last hundred years, they always portrayed Asia in a very negative light, in fact I didn’t even grow up as an Asian-American who had a positive role model in the media. Wherever I go, there would always be a certain stereotype that sticks to Asian people, so for me after seeing all of that—it’s become a conviction. I believe that every culture has talent and what matters is the story that you’re telling, then it got me thinking about how to take these stories from the Asian cultures and bring them to the rest of the world? And eventually change the perception of negative media towards Asian culture.”
Through all the stereotypes that stick to Asian people, what kind of image would you like the world to see from Asians?
“I think again, western media for decades have painted Asia as the red dragon, China, mysterious, exotic, geishas, gangsters, yakuza, but that’s not the truth. The reality is that most of them haven’t been to Asia, and when you come to Asia there’s such a rich history that is very different—just like (US) America and Latin America.”

“Every piece of Asia is rich with their own uniqueness in music, fashion, and culture that most parts of the world haven’t seen. So what I’m trying to do is to bridge the east and west through not just media, entertainment and technology but also through stories and talents. I think every part of Asia holds so many different stories and talents that represent their culture that is yet to be told. And that’s my desire, to bring the beauty and the authenticity of Asia’s culture to the rest of the world through the Asia’s perspectives.”

Is that why you created 88rising? What is the actual reason you built 88rising?
“At that time in 2015, there wasn’t many digital media channels, so I thought why is there not a single digital media channel that highlights Asian artist, music, or even culture for the millennials and gen Z? Whilst the 60% of youth population in the world is from Asia. There isn’t any cool or dedicated platform that represents Asian artist and culture–there were MTV Asia and Channel V but they’re linears and there was no digital media that is purely driven by music in Asia. Let’s say I’m Coca Cola and I’d like to work with skateboard community in Jakarta, which channel can we work with to channel our work? That’s basically the idea in creating 88rising, in the sense of the need of a premium digital media that focuses on Asia’s next generation—and is eventually able to become the platform for the rising voices from Asia that the world would recognize.” 
How did you realize that you’re actually hitting it big?

“I met Sean Miyashiro who then became my co-founder of the company, and launched 88Rising—without us knowing that it actually becomes a global phenomenon as we received emails and subscriptions from kids all over the world, saying that they want to get their videos noticed by 88rising. That’s how I realized that we hit the holy grail and made it, it feels like there’s a sleeping giant of a youth population which is the biggest population in the world, that is yet to have their voices heard—and we give them arise, and opportunity and voice to those unheard voices from young people in Asia. So that’s what 88rising is about—it’s about being a catalyst for the voice of Asia’s youth.”

 Lastly, what’s your thought on the upcoming trends in the music industry globally, what is the one thing that people in the music industry that has yet to explore?
“I don’t think there’s anything that people have yet to explore because music is part of our entire human history in every single form and language—music is the universal language to top it all and it is what brings the whole world together. However, trend wise is that the urban culture, it is that now hip-hop and R&B is now the new pop. I have recently come back from Rolling Loud, the biggest hip hop festival in Miami, then when I was there, all I see is kids from many different colors blend together for one music. I think that hip hop is the new rock, it gives the freedom of speech, expression and passion to those who speak the language. That’s why young people are attached to hip hop so much, because they’re not afraid to share what’s on their minds or anything that they want to say, in the end, I think that hip hop is just going to get bigger than before and the urban music in general is not just going to take over America, but also the rest of the world, especially Asia. Therefore, we’re working on bringing the biggest hip hop brands to Asia in the next few years.”

Editor: Galuh Tathya
Writer: Windyannisa Cindrati
Photo courtesy of @jaesonma

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