Hip-hop has long been a global force, but recently we’ve started seeing multicultural acts breaking into the American mainstream. Accompanied by big buzz, Sri Lanka-born MC M.I.A. — already an underground star with the mesmerizing bootleg Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 — heads above ground with Arular (the February release was pushed back, reportedly because of issues with sample rights). Like M.I.A., who found her voice in hip-hop after her family moved to England — these artists are rapping about their backgrounds, and in their native tongues. Song by song, they’re helping to infuse the genre with foreign affairs.
Unlike the Wu-Tang Clan, Jin is actually Chinese-American. His debut album, The Rest is History, dropped in October on Virgin with the bilingual single ”Learn Chinese.”
He got signed after enduring racist slurs to win BET’s 106 & Park ”Freestyle Friday” seven times. History features Kanye West.
Tours China in April; DVD Jin: The Making of a Rap Star out March 8.
Born in Philadelphia to Indian parents, Rajé Shwari sings in English and Hindi.
After Timbaland got her demo, he used her vocals on tracks for Jay-Z and Ms. Jade, and on Timbaland & amp; Magoo’s ”Indian Flute” — which also features Tim rapping in Hindi.
Shwari cut a remix of 50 Cent’s ”Candy Shop” and is working on a solo debut with the Neptunes and Scott Storch.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Miami MC Pitbull (a.k.a. Armando Perez) memorized José Martí’s poetry as a kid. His Spanish-English debut, M.I.A.M.I., came out in August.
Broke out on Luke’s ”Lollipop” in 2001, guested on Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s Kings of Crunk (2002) and Crunk Juice (2004).
Touring, dissing Che Guevara in a New York Post essay.