An Exclusive with Jin:
From Freestyle Champ and Ruff Ryder to Multi-Platinum Status
When Jin walked onto the stage of 106th and Park, there had to be almost a feeling of triumph from his rap rival. Here was this Asian kid coming on stage and he was going to battle rap? Then Jin opened his mouth and some of the wittiest freestyle lines you ever heard were coming out of it. At one time or another, he spit something that made you go, “Ohhhh!”. We know the rest of the story – freestyle champion with seven consecutive wins, signed to Ruff Ryders, making him the first Asian rapper signed to a major label, and then what? Where did he go?
For those wondering, Jin made moves. Literally.
He moved to Hong Kong with the release of his Chinese album, ABC (American-Born Chinese). This was an album that went platinum within a week and broke all sorts of records in the country. He was featured in movies, television, and commercials. And in July of 2010, Jin released another Chinese album, Buy 1 Get 1 Free, which is also climbing the charts. Well, that’s great and we’re happy for him, but what about the Jin fans here who want another album? Does he ever plan on releasing some more music in the States? And is he that same mesmerizing kid who won us over on B.E.T. almost ten years ago?
Granting a second interview with yours truly, we remember Jin’s past, talk about his present, and look forward to his future.
So let’s start with some personal inquiries about Jin.
Favorite Musical Artist (other than yourself)?
It’s hard to pick one favorite out of all the incredibly talented and amazing artists out there.
Favorite TV Show?
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Favorite food? I heard they’re chicken wings….really???
I do love chicken wings… and a good steak.
Name someone you look up to and why?
I don’t know if I can say I look up to him, but I truly admire Will Smith as an entertainer and all around individual. I can’t say I know him personally, but he just seems like a real cool dude who, even at his height of stardom, gives off just an overall awesome aura.
I don’t feel guilty about it at all, but some people may not know I am a big fan of both Backstreet Boys as well as N’Sync.
Your HK album, ABC (American-Born Chinese), went platinum within a week and broke records. In addition, your new album with singer, Hanjin, Buy 1 Get 1 Free, has been doing very well. Tell me about some opportunities that have come your way from such success. (For instance, I heard you were on TVB – tell me about that.)
TVB is basically the leading television channel in the whole of Hong Kong. Simultaneously, it is quite a powerhouse media platform in China as whole. Currently, I am the host of a music program that airs once a week on the channel called Jade Solid Gold. Also, I am one of the main hosts on a talk show called Big Boys Club that airs five nights a week on TVB’s subsidiary channel, J2.
We also talked about releasing some more music in the States if the given the chance, especially since this is where your family resides. If this opportunity were to come, tell me about some producers or artists, if any, who you would like to collaborate with.
I have to admit, I use to be one of those artists that would naturally want to collaborate with the biggest and brightest. You name it, Eminem, Jay-z, Dr. Dre, Neptunes, etc.. I mean, these are all individuals that I admire and at the end of the day, I am a fan of. Nowadays, I look at it more from a perspective of “who would I actually make some classic music with?”
There have been rumors that you are going to be a Christian rapper. Is there any truth to that?
What I can say is the absolute truth is that God is doing something really major in my life. As my relationship with Him continues to grow and mature, as well as my spiritual growth, it’s inevitable that it will spill into all aspects of my life. Naturally, that includes my music. To really answer your question, I’d have to digest what you define as Christian rapper. Quite honestly, I’m still a bit perplexed by the notion of a Christian rapper. It seems to be quite a paradox. It probably isn’t, but being that it’s a whole new experience for me even as I continue to step forward in this direction with my artistry, I am just following the Holy Spirit.
You got your big break freestyling on 106th and Park, but lately you have laid off of battling. Why?
My drive is not in battling anymore. To stay sharp and on point in the competitive world of freestyle battling requires a certain way of thinking as well as active participation in it. Although I may not battle anymore, I definitely still have a respect and admiration for the individuals who are not only keeping the craft alive but also constantly pushing the envelope to evolve it.
Since you are now residing in Hong Kong, do you still follow up on what’s going on with rap in the States? If so, do you have a favorite artist(s) that is burning up the charts right now?
There’s lots of incredibly talented individuals doing music right now. In terms of the new wave of artists in the last 2 yrs since I’ve made the move to Hong Kong. Just guys that I feel are putting a lot into their craft. You can feel the passion they have for the art. J. Cole is a good example. Diggy Simmons is so ahead of his time. He’s got that Hip Hop DNA though.
What do you see your next English album being focused on?
Sharing with everyone through my music what my life’s been like since finding the Light.
Do you plan on singing on any future projects?
Who knows? I never planned on doing music Cantonese. Look at what’s happened now. “Never say never” is the lesson I suppose.
I have heard that you would also like to release an English/Cantonese album. Any truth to that? If so, tell me about it.
The plan next year for 2011 is to release both an English album and a Cantonese album separately. The English album will be my first since the last one in 2006, which is I Promise. The Cantonese project will be my second one since moving to Hong Kong.
The last time we spoke, you have the chance to partake in two Hong Kong produced films, Split Second Murders (comedy/drama) and Gallants (action/comedy/drama). Now you have the honor of being in the movie, Bruce Lee, which is a movie about his teenage years where you play one of his childhood friends. Tell me about your role, this experience, and what it has been like so far.
The experience has been nothing short of amazing. For me to be able to contribute to a film of this nature and caliber is beyond my wildest imagination. I play a character named Unicorn Chan. That’s actually his real English name. In real life, he is an actual childhood buddy of Bruce Lee. Together they got into acting at a young age and spent most of their time together on the various film sets. It’s also noteworthy to point out that when Bruce did go back to Hong Kong after his big break in the United States, he actually met back up with Unicorn and they did more acting together. The Bruce Lee story has been told before, but I believe what makes this film unique is that it is one of the first to really give the world an insight into the early years of this extraordinary individual.
The script for the movie, Bruce Lee, is written in Chinese. As someone who can speak Chinese, yet not read it, how did you work this out?
I pretty much handle all of these scenarios in the same way. I have a good friend who will read the script together with me once thru and I will use a style of translating called “pingyin” which is basically spelling out the Chinese text phonetically. It can be quite overwhelming sometimes, especially with full on movie scripts. However, it is also efficient and ultimately the most applicable resolution.
Now that you have done bi-lingual music (Cantonese and English) as well as movies and television, is there any other avenue you’d like to pursue?
I guess you can say my focus at the moment is to just work hard and make sure I put 110% into all the wonderful opportunities the Lord has placed in front of me.
What’s going to be your message, if any?
The realization as a young man that the world is only temporary and acknowledging the fact that I’ve really been lost all these years. [It was] time to find my way back on track.
Tell me about Jin Super Group.
Jin Super Group is the name of the official fan club of mine in Hong Kong. It was started by a bunch of supporters of mine. I try to be as interactive with them as possible. It’s growing slowly.
You have accomplished a lot and are doing so much right now. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Hopefully healthy and happy. Beyond that I don’t really have too much more to ask for. Wherever or whatever, I am sure that God has His plans for me. It’s just a matter of continuing to seek Him.
Now for my ladies…describe your perfect soul mate. Do you have time to pursue any personal relationships?
My perfect soulmate would be someone who I believe will make me a better person. Of course, if I could do the same for that person as well.
Any last words?
God bless you all and thank you for the support.
Jin Au Yeung : The Story
You can get Jin’s albums on or Amazon.
More about Jin Au-Yeung
Jin Au-Yeung caught the attention of the music world when he battled his way to become 106th and Park’s Freestyle Friday Champion. He crushed the doubters when he signed to Ruff Ryders, making him the first Asian rapper on a major label. Now he’s everywhere in Hong Kong, creating platinum hits, commercials, movies. He has broken barriers and he did it all with people doubting him the whole way. You can call him a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call him a fake. Jin is a true hip hop head who loves the culture and hones his craft. Check the resume. This man is the real thing…in any country.And the rest is history.
Zoey Flowers’ first interview with Jin can be found at: http://www.examiner.com/hip-hop-music-in-fort-lauderdale/an-interview-with-jin-from-freestyle-champion-to-ruff-ryder-to-platinum-rapper