Rap music, like everything else, has its problematic moments. Misogyny, colorism, and yes racism often plague verses of some of the most popular hip-hop artists. Time and time again, rappers spit about “looking Asian” whenever they smoke a blunt or two.
Exhibit A: “Cause bitch I'm amazin'/Look what I'm blazin'/Eyes so low/Yea I look like an Asian,” Jeezy rapped on the chorus of his 2008 track “Amazin.”
Wiz Khalifa is the latest in a long line of rappers who have invoked the racist comparison. “I'm a different type of being/Drive the type of whip your bitches like to be in/Smoke got my eyes lookin' Korean,” he raps on the track “Hot Now” from his new album Rolling Papers 2.
The rapper faced a bit of backlash for the line, but instead of apologizing, he’s telling critics to get over it. “Chill out, I’m not a racist. I love all races,” he told Charlamagne and Angela Yee on during a stop at The Breakfast Club. “I have Korean friends who are not offended, so I don’t know those people who are saying that.”
This defense plays out a bit like people who love to pull the “but I have black friends” card—it doesn’t work. Should Wiz be an expert on all things politically correct? Probably not. Should he listen when people point out something offensive and historically racist? Absolutely.
His dismissive response, in addition to the line, perpetuates one of the worst racist tropes facing Asians and Asian Americans—one that continues to have troubling consequences. In an effort to appeal to Eurocentric beauty standards, Asians, often Koreans, will turn to surgery to alter their monolid eyelids. As many as one in 20 Korean American women have undergone the surgery.
Like skin bleaching, monolid surgery is a permanent departure from a physical feature to appease external racism and internalized self-hate. Sorry Wiz, but chilling out isn’t a solution this time. Try again.