Pushing The Envelope As They Stretch Rap's Borders

United Nations Of Hip-Hop

EW explores the newest global hip-hop artists: Jin, Raje Shwari, and MC Pitbull

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.

Jin

Dossier
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.''

Diplomatic Relations
He got signed after enduring racist slurs to win BET's 106 & Park ''Freestyle Friday'' seven times. History features Kanye West.

Policy Agenda
Tours China in April; DVD Jin: The Making of a Rap Star out March 8.

Rajé Shwari

Dossier
Born in Philadelphia to Indian parents, Rajé Shwari sings in English and Hindi.

Diplomatic Relations
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.

Policy Agenda
Shwari cut a remix of 50 Cent's ''Candy Shop'' and is working on a solo debut with the Neptunes and Scott Storch.

MC Pitbull

Dossier
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.

Diplomatic Relations
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).

Policy Agenda
Touring, dissing Che Guevara in a New York Post essay.

Originally posted Feb 28, 2005 Published in issue #809 Mar 04, 2005 Order article reprints
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