“Dog I’m Asian, I eat cats like you"

Asian American rapper George Yamazawa has brought his rhymes to the University of Pittsburgh.

The Pitt News reports that Yamazawa was invited by the University of Pittsburgh’s Asian Student Alliance to perform for 70 students at the William Pitt Union.

Yamazawa is a rapper and poet who challenges the perspectives of Asian Americans on race and culture. He was crowned the National Poetry Slam Champion in 2014 and is a co-founder of a youth empowerment poetry organisation called Sacrificial Poets.

Earlier this year, Yamazawa dropped his debut album Shouts To Durham with lead track ‘North Cack’ featuring Joshua Gunn and Kane Smego.

Yamazawa performed some of his best poetry and music at the Pitt event. “When you forget where you’re from, you truly become American,” he said.

Opening with a poem ’10 Things You Should Know About Being an Asian From the South’, Yamazawa’s rhymes revolved around his experience growing up as an Asian American in Durham, North Carolina.

“Dog I’m Asian, I eat cats like you,” he said.

Junior computer engineering student Christine Nguyen who attended the event said,  “I think G coming to Pitt — you know we don’t have a lot of conversations about resolving a lot of the issues of racism in the Asian-American community — is a huge part in taking a step towards understanding other people and solving those issues of racism.”

The rapper and poet also recited ‘The Bridge’, a poem about his father’s struggle in the US. “Speaking English is like climbing a barbed wire fence / Standard English wasn’t gonna feed his children,” he said.

Along with sharing a lot of personal stories, Yamazawa’s poems focused on the guilt and confusion he felt being born in America yet tied to his Japanese roots. In one of his poems, he spoke about how the culture he grew up in distanced him from his heritage.

Yamazawa also performed ‘North Cack’ for the audience, rapping, “Bull City born bred, cornbread fed / I’m Bull City cornbread, cornbread cornbread cornbread.”

A Q&A closed the event, where Yamazawa revealed his inspirations and his support from his parents.

“I could speak well and argue with them for days, so they wanted me to be a lawyer. I think it’s very rare for parents, especially immigrant minority communities, to support their kids doing anything that is not a secure pathway,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of folks here can relate to that.”

The rapper left the audience and fellow aspiring poets with one piece of advice: “It’s not about what you have to say in your poem, it’s about what you have to say when your poem is done.”