The first time Gothamist spotted The Notorious MSG was at this year's Chinese New Year parade. They seem to think we're stalking them, so how better to stalk than to do an interview? If you want to see them in action, they have a show tonight at the Cutting Room.
Names, ages, where are you from, and where do you live now?
In 1993, we all left the ghettos of Asia to come to New York City's Chinatown. We came here with a dream. And that dream is to blow-out people's asses with our hot n' spicy music. We recommend you clench your cheeks 'cuz it's gonna hurt.
Hong Kong Fever, 25 Hometown: Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong
Down-Lo Mein, 24. Hometown: Ping-Tung, Taiwan
The Hunan Bomb, 23 Hometown: Inchon, South Korea
For those that haven't heard about the legend of the Notorious MSG, please explain how you guys got that name. Who does what in your three-person group?
Back in our restaurant days we put up with a lot of abuse, like many of our bruthas & sistas do in the kitchen game. It comes with the territory. But one time a customer got straight-up racist with us and we had to add our own home-grown (if you know what I mean) ingredients to his Moo Shu Pork. Long story short, because of that incident we were called the Notorious Moo Shu Guys by the locals. They saw us as heroes. When we formed our band of deep-fried destruction, we decided to keep the name, shortening it to The Notorious MSG.
Hong Kong Fever is the ringleader / head songwriter.
Down-Lo Mein is The Yello Gigolo / producer.
The Hunan Bomb is a bonafide killing machine. He used to be our drummer but after Funky Buddha was killed he stepped up behind the mic.
As a group with some New York City roots (after coming over) - who are your local musical inspirations? Any Asian music influences or themes that one might hear in your music?
Believe it or not, we are inspired more by music outside of hip hop. We love The Ramones, who are the ULTIMATE New York band. Today's hip hop has become what hair-metal was to the 80's. It has developed from an exciting new form of music into a rehashed, uninspired cliche.
One major theme in our music is that of struggle, our struggle in the Chinese ghettos. While it is our story, we feel that it is also something that has a universal appeal. The struggle to survive, to surpass people's expectations when nobody believes in you - this is something a lot of people can relate to.
After you lost the Funky Buddha, no doubt to the East Coast/West Coast rivalries, you've replaced him with The Hunan Bomb. Is there any truth to the rumor that Hunan Bomb is the same person as Funky Buddha with some gastric bypass surgery? What about retaliation for the Funky Buddha's shooting?
First of all, Buddha's death wasn't about East Coast/West coast nonsense. This ain't Tupac & Biggie. This is Chinatown against the world.
And no, they aren't the same person. Funky B didn't need gastric bypass surgery. He wasn't THAT fat. If anything, a little liposuction would've done the trick. When we find who's responsible for Funky Buddha's death we will deal with him/her our own way...Chinatown style. Right now our best form of revenge is through our music. We do it for all our fallen Chinatown delivery boys who were either attacked to killed in the line of duty. This ain't no joke - this problem is for real. Check out the links below to get a better sense of the day to day struggle our bruthas go through:
February 12th 2004: Huang Chen, beaten to death
October 15th, 2002: Jian Lin Chun, stabbed to death in the lobby of a building
September 1st, 2000: Jin-Sheng Liu, killed making a delivery
June 23rd, 1999: Ng Cheung Cheung, was beaten to death with a baseball bat
December 10th, 1998, Li-Rong Lin, was stabbed to death
So about that East Coast/West Coast thing - who has the better Chinatown? Do you have to ride around in bullet-proof rickshaws when out West?
Each Chinatown has it's own unique flavor. The Chinatown in Cali is much bigger and has been a great home for many of our people new to this country. In contrast, New York City's Chinatown is harder and grittier...which is why we love it more. You want to see the real deal, the real struggle, it’s right here in the NYC. Gotta stay true to the hood.
And you might not be aware of this, but there are these amazing inventions called "automobiles." Unlike rickshaws, they use this advanced technology called "engines" to propel them. I'd describe it further but I'm afraid your brain would start to smoke from all the technical jargon.
When you're roaming the streets, what kind of heat do you guys pack? Gas, electric, hot plate? What else do you pack?
Our most ferocious weapon is the heat that we pack between our legs. Our egg-rolls are like homing missiles, and we have a full-lock on the vagina, captain.
We're also considering packing your corny ass into a coffin if you keep it up with these asinine questions....
We spotted you in this year's Chinese New Year Parade. It looked like you were filming a segment for MTV. How was that experience?
We feel very blessed to have MTV in our corner. Being poor Chinese boys from the ghetto, we lived our whole lives ignored by society. People in Chinatown are rarely even given the opportunity to break out of the kitchens...but it does not mean that they don't have dreams of their own. With our continued support and success we hope that we will be able to give a voice to all our bruthas and sistas in the Chinese ghetto who were unable to fulfill their lifetime aspirations.
Do you find, as Asian entertainers, that you have a harder time getting recognition for your work?
Absolutely. It's been a very difficult journey, and we still have a long way to go. Corporate America has yet to embrace Asian entertainers as a force in the music industry.
We intend to change that. We also have no intention of changing who we are to fit the so-called "mold." We are very proud of who we are and where we come from. Our full-scale assault on the eardrums begins NOW.
How do you feel about the other MSGs - monosodium glutamate and Madison Square Garden?
We feel that you should avoid a career in comedy.
What are your favorite dishes when eating Chinese food? And what's your favorite Chinese restaurant in the city?
We love all Chinese food, as long as it comes with a side order of tang (and we're talking about the orange drink.)
Two local spots we love are 69 Chinese Restaurant, located on 69 Bayard St. The owner, Joe, is a true MSG brutha....he’s been good to us. This local hotspot is open 24/7 and quite well known for its great, low-priced food and unique decor. The walls are LITERALLY covered with money. This restaurant was also featured on the cover of our last album, "Die Hungry."
Another favorite is Ipoh Restaurant, on 25 Canal St / Corner of Essex St. This joint’s got some different things on the menu, like Roti and other things you won't normally find at a Chinese restaurant. This restaurant was also the featured in our latest music video, "Chinatown Hustler," which will be featured on our upcoming album, which is egg-droppin' this MAY! Stay tuned to www.notoriousmsg.com for more details on this and everything MSG....
The Notorious MSG will be at The Cutting Room tonight. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 9:45. For more about the group, check out their website. To listen to some of their songs, head to their myspace site.
February, 23 2006 at The Cutting Room
19 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10001
Cover: $10.00 / Show starts @ 9:45pm