Interview – Jin: The Chinese, Christian, Rapper, Actor, and Model
Jin Au-Yeung is a rapper, songwriter, actor, and model. He is fluent in both Cantonese and English. He was both the first Asian and Chinese solo rapper to be signed to a major record label. Jin was a consistant winner of the BET program 106 & Park that used to air, known as Freestyle Friday. After winning seven battles in a row, he was inducted in the Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame. As a result of the attention on Freestyle Friday, Jin ultimately signed a deal with Ruff Ryders, which were at the peak of their popularity at the time. Ruff Ryders consisted of The LOX (Jadakiss, Styles P, Sheek Louch), DMX, Drag-On, Swizz Beatz, and Eve. His first single under Ruff Ryders was titled “Learn Chinese”. It took a sample from the 1992 song “They Want EFX”, from hip-hop group Das EFX. The second and final single for the album was originally supposed to be “I Got a Love” featuring Kanye West, but was later changed to “Senorita” because Roc-A-Fella Records did not want to over-expose Kanye West. In 2003, Jin made an appearance in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious as a mechanic named ‘Jimmy’, which kicked off his acting career. After taking a hiatus from rap to explore other opportunities, including his relationship with Christ, I get the opportunity to ask Jin a few questions on where things are presently.
CH: Let’s start off with your story or your testimony if you will. Can you tell us how you came to know Christ?
Jin: I’ve been blessed to be exposed to Christ’s love at a young age. It wasn’t until recent years, specifically these last two that I finally experienced what it’s like to have a healthy, intimate relationship with the Lord. What I’ve learned most of all since then is that the more I am willing to surrender all of my life to Him, the more amazing things become.
CH: You keep your site pretty well updated (AyoJin.com), and I saw there that you were recently married. Congratulations! Were you and your wife together prior to you coming to Christ?
Jin: Thanks. We actually just got married recently in February. What’s amazing is how God is working His way into our relationship as a foundation and what we’re building our relationship/family upon.
CH: What books are on your shelf at the moment?
Jin: There’s quite a few as far as books that I’ve read in the past 12-24 months. Lots of Max Lucado. One book I definitely keep on deck these days is “The Power of a Praying Husband” by Stormie Omartian.
CH: It seems you have definitely been nurturing your modeling and acting career more than your rapping career. Is that because you have more passion for modeling and acting than rapping or just more opportunity outside rapping?
Jin: I wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as a “modeling career”. I’ve been lucky to secure a few endorsement deals while in Hong Kong which includes some print and billboard advertisements. Hong Kong has definitely allowed me to explore platforms outside of music in regards to my career.
CH: You acted in the film, Gallants 打擂台 and it recently won the award for Best Film in Hong Kong. That has to be a good feeling.
Jin: Gallants is a very special film project for me for multiple reasons. One, it is my first film opportunity after moving to Hong Kong. Two, the people involved are a group that I highly admire and respect, so for them to give me this opportunity is very humbling and encouraging.
CH: You recently released a mixtape entitled ‘Say Something‘. You also released a music video for the song “Angels” from the Say Something mixtape, and to date it has garnered over 700,000 views on YouTube. After being away so long, and after people heard you were a Christian, did you think you would get such a great response?
Jin: I’m so encouraged and inspired by the feedback from the ‘Say Something’ mixtape as well. It had been a while since people heard some English material from me prior to that release. I literally heard Drake and Timbaland’s Say Something and said to myself “I wanna say something…” So from there, I decided to just pick a bunch of beats and share what was on my heart with everyone.
CH: We posted your ‘Say Something’ mixtape and it was one of the most downloaded projects for 2010 on Rapzilla. What are your plans with new music? Do you have a new album in the works?
Jin: I do have a new English album scheduled for release later in the year. There is no set date for the album yet, however I do have a date for the first single. That will be 6.4.11. Not coincidentally, that will be my 29th birthday. A gift from me to you.
CH: Now that you are a Christian and are getting to know the Christian Hip Hop scene, who have you heard that you like so far?
Jin: There’s lots of talented individuals in the genre. I really like Braille. I do want to make a disclaimer though… As much as I find Braille’s stuff can be nourishing for the soul and encouraging of the walk… I would never box him in the “Christian rapper” category. I think his music just needs to be heard by everyone… Christian or not.
CH: I first learned about Jaeson Ma from your blog. I love finding out about Christian artists doing Hip Hop and getting a lot of exposure … that we’ve never heard of or covered on Rapzilla. So what is the status on the song “Warriors” that you, Jaeson and Vanessa Wu are doing?
Jin: It’s gone thru quite some stages. Right now, we’re just waiting to see what the final touches are gonna be.
CH: Outside of Hip Hop, what’s getting rotation in your music catalog?
Jin: Definitely lots of worship music. Jason Upton. Hillsong United. Misty Edwards.
CH: I love reading your posts on food from your journey’s through Hong Kong, because I love trying new foods. If I make it out to Hong Kong you gotta be my foodie guide!
Jin: It’s on when you get to Hong Kong.
CH: Thanks for taking the time to interview with Rapzilla.
Jin: I just want to say I am continued to be humbled, encouraged and inspired by the feedback from everyone since I’ve taken this new direction not only with my music but more importantly with my life. All glory to God! I am always open to connect with everyone. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org God bless you all!
Follow Jin on Twitter at @ayojin