In celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival, I had a brief chat with rapper and producer, Chow Mane, to understand the deeper meaning behind his new single ‘Mooncakes,’ and how his Chinese-American identity has shaped who he is as an artist.

“I’ve been planning to release an EP for a while now but I settled on the Mooncakes idea about 4 months ago… just in time to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival.”

Mooncakes EP coming Oct 4 🙂🙌

A post shared by Chow Mane (@chowmane) on

The Festival is celebrated by both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, so through the narrative of ‘Mooncake’, he connects both sides of his identity, and gives us a glimpse into his childhood and family life.

He jumps right into the imagery with the hook:

Aye, moon cake red bean in the bread roll.
多谢奶奶爷爷 (translation: thank you grandma/grandpa) for the red envelopes.

“The idea for this track arose because I felt like I wanted to share a bit more about my experience growing up in the US, and my family’s experience here. I know my family has had an interesting experience establishing themselves after being refugees from the Vietnam war.”

My dad came from the struggle, they lost it all in the war.
The government took the house and they raided out all the drawers.
And every one of em looked at the sky, asked why lord.


I asked Chow whether he was concerned his songs ‘Dumpling’ ‘China Town’ and now ‘Moon Cakes’ would come off too gimmicky, or listeners would feel like he was feeding stereotypes to the public. 

“You often hear references to Chinese restaurants and the common jokes from non-Asian artists (like that skit on Fugees’ the score) and I wanted to talk about the other side. A lot of Asian-American artists avoid talking about being Asian because they feel like it’s a gimmick and they can prove themselves as good artists regardless of highlighting their race. I don’t see it exactly the same way – my identity is a central part of who I am and I want my music to reflect it. Dumplings, for instance, is a fun, upbeat, and exciting song because that’s exactly what I’m feeling when I’m about to eat dumplings. Again, the idea being that I want to not only make something that other Asian-Americans can relate to from their experience but also foster understanding from other groups. I want to ultimately show that there’s no singular Asian or Asian American experience; through my songs, I’m kind of just touching on the different facets of my own and I know that others may or may not feel the same way.”

All the beats on Chow’s upcoming EP are self-produced except for ‘Dumplings.’ In fact, for ‘Mooncakes’ Chow Mane sampled a song from Chinese artist Jiang Xiao Qing to give it an authentic, ethnic sound.

After a decade of rapping, Chow is comfortable with who he is and he’s ready to share his stories with the world.

Listen to the song and check out his EP. Read the lyrics below.

Chow Mane on Soundcloud | Chow Mane Website


[hook]
Aye, mooncake red bean in the bread roll
多谢奶奶爷爷 for the red envelopes
Aye, lotus seed filling with the egg yolk
And grandma got me a chain that’s golden yellow
Aye, mooncakes reminiscing on my past life
Mama in the kitchen cooking something pan fried
Daddy just came home from the restaurant
And it look like we got enough for another month
[v1]
It was like 8 of us at my grandma house
Dad was sleeping on the floor, my mama on the couch
At the restaurant helping out got our feet weak
On the tv no Nickelodeon only that VHS that my Auntie just rented out from the shop
Watching old Chinese dramas that talkin’ bout having honor
My dad black Honda Civic was parked outside by the pigeons
And when I’m seeing the pictures it’s like another dimension
When my dad left my mom that was family politics
And now that I’m older I’m a part of it
I’m tryna stay out, reminiscing on the times in the playground
Just digging in the sand for that gold we could never grab
My uncle got kids now, my auntie too
And they lookin’ for a role model, what can I do?
Damn responsibility been stacking on top my shoulders
Realize that I’m getting older, I’m turnin’ back to
hook
[v2]
Aye, they said I was good fortune
When I was born, my earlobes was enormous
Aye, for my family gotta make it
Mama she was a hustler, money orientated
My dad came from the struggle, they lost it all in the war
The government took the house and they raided out all the drawers
And everyone of ’em looked at the sky, asked why lord?
So I could now take my family where we ain’t been before
Jade on my necklace, protected
I got a warlord in me I’m never resting
Dynasty warrior flow I’m dexterous
Grandma blood in my veins, they can’t neglect this
Aye, lotus seed with the green tea
Step outside in the night time when it’s freezing
Look at the sky, the wind cries, but still all my memories inside
The pictures in my mind, I find