Music

Hoya: Master of Ceremonies

He’s takin’ it back to the golden age, before all this hip-Pop Hollyhood bullshit took over the airwaves.

Story by Teo J. Babini - teo@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos by Mindo Cikanavicius Video by Collabo!

(c!) x HOYA (wubbed out) from (collabo!) on Vimeo.

I met Hoya through DJ T*O*N*Y about a year ago. There was a mini hip-hop performance in the back of Fat Buddha with a buncha cats I would later play Korean drinking games on rooftops with in the summer. I remember I was burning my last bone outdoors when Hoya asked if I had an extra. I didn’t, but I told him I would walk him to my local loosey spot a couple blocks away. We shot the shit about the old Chinatown days when the Vietnamese gangsters established themselves with Born 2 Kill in the late eighties/early nineties on the way over.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

From then on, Hoya became a permanent fixture. I would run into him at most of T*O*N*Y’s gigs, exchange a few words. Now he’s a full-fledged member of the crew, usually ridin’ up in the whip, G-pen in hand, with jokes and freestyles for days. He’s one of those ACTUAL MCs who can ACTUALLY flow off the top. He doesn’t even like to listen to too many other artists because he doesn’t want to be influenced. He’s takin’ it back to the golden age, before all this hip-Pop Hollyhood bullshit took over the airwaves. We always vibe on the old school New York shit, you know, real recognize real, reminiscing about the way it was before youz guys even got here. Check out my write up of his first performance at Brain-Cave here.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

How’d you end up becoming an MC? Who were/are your inspirations?
Hip Hop came naturally to me. It found me. I was designed to rap. When I was a kid, there were nights I’d rap in my sleep, literally. My brother played Wu Tang’s “36 Chambers” and some other joints in the whip for the first time. I heard a bunch of cursing and ruckus with gems hidden in the middle. I thought it was the craziest shit, face melted off and everything. I was hype. I took the tape from my brother, made two copies and placed it back in his Aiwa Walkman that same night like nothing happened.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

One day, I took his issues of The Source magazine. In the back, they had ads for “escorts” and turntables/mics. I ripped out the page and saved my lunch money. I copped 2 Gemini PT 1000’s turntables and a Gemini KL-10 “Executioner 10” mixer from Jamaica Ave. I taught myself how to scratch and beat juggle, and I’d bump beat breaks all day and night, skipping meals and all that shit. One day, I went back to the Ave. and got some records with instrumentals on the B-side. It blew my mind. I plugged the mic in and I started rhyming over the instrumentals. I said, “Yo, I’m nice”, and that was it, man. I found Self in that moment. I don’t really know why I was so intrigued at such a young age, but I was, and i’m grateful for it.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

I started free styling and rhyming wild words, everyday non-stop. Then I decided to write some shit down one day to record my visions and have been writing a rhyme every day since. People looked at me crazy, but I was just doing what I loved to do and what I do best and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

My main inspirations are life in its honey moon phase, womens’ peanut butter and jelly pecan sprinkle spandex, Pam from Martin and Neve Campbell’s buck teeth… and cleavage sweat. I’m also inspired by really wealthy, “powerful” people who do really human things, such as smoking crack with a North Korean diplomat and farting in public.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

What are your thoughts on the current state of hip-hop? Do you think real MCs have a place in the mainstream? Or is real hip-hop dead for those outside the underground?
The current state of hip-hop is pretty interesting. You got people coming out of everywhere and nowhere trying to get on. It’s now fully integrated with suburban and city life, rich and poor, black, white, yellow, green, fat, skinny, whatever. That’s a beautiful thing to see. The culture has come a long way. Unity is hip-hop. The one thing I wish was different is the representation. Let people know what it really used to be so they know where to take it. Some of these people have no idea what hip-hop is. I know a lot of bitter, hardcore; back-packer hip-hoppers that are really fucking pissed off at the current state of hip-hop culture. These people might fist fight with you over the issue. You might play a radio single and their entire body will explode into a million angry little hip-hop pieces. Cheer up, man.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

That’s why my mix-tape is titled “Dollar Menu Mixtape”, because I see the rap game like dollar menu food. You got all the choices. You got your burger, fries, apple pies, soda, chicken nuggets all that at just one dollar. Very easily accessible, like today’s music. But, what happens after you eat it? It tastes mad good, then settles and it usually flows through your system and comes out your ass in like an hour and a half and then you’re hungry again. That’s how I see rap music right now. You go to the blogs, the sites (drive-thru) to get your quick fix, you listen to it (eat it) and you’re hungry for more; on to the next. Shit’s crazy. That’s why every song on my mix-tape is different. I give you a little bit of everything, like the dollar menu.

Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Hoya MC and DJ T*O*N*Y Photo © Mindo Cikanavicius

Does that fact that your Korean, a rare find in hip-hop, affect the way you do your thing, or the way you are received by audiences? Are you worried about being stereotyped as an “Asian Rapper”, and that overshadowing your talent?
I’m half North Korean and half South Korean. My grand father escaped from North Korea through the woods with what was left of his family. It took him two weeks, eating raw animals and all that wild shit. I know where I’m from, so I know where I’m trying to go. Now that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be how the Korean society expects me to be. I’m not worried about being stereotyped as an “Asian Rapper” because it is what it is. People are gonna judge you, and yeah, I’m Asian. At the end of the day, real recognize real. Those who know, understand what is going on here.

I don’t even think about it really. I just do me and live my life. I love my people and all people. I’m multidimensional; if you fuck with me, you fuck with me, Korean or not. I’m not gonna sit here and play the Korean spokesperson either, ask Jeremy Lin about that one. If anything, the fact that I’m Korean is an advantage for me. It’s something new and exciting for people. I enjoy when people get caught off guard when they see what ethnicity I am. It keeps things interesting for me as well as for them. We all win. I don’t really know how I’m received by the audience, but I’m sure it does cross their mind at some point like, “Damn, that’s one crazy-ass Chinese muh fucka”. (laughs)

Twitter : @hoyamc
Fb: HOYA
Website : hoyamusic.com

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