Rapper YG's 'Meet The Flockers' Accused Of Promoting Burglaries Against Asian Households
By now Compton rapper YG is on familiar terms with controversy. Earlier this month he launched his "F___ Donald Trump" tour by bringing an effigy of Trump up on stage (and subsequently beating it into pieces).
Now, he's facing backlash for a song (and music video) that was released in 2014 along with his album My Krazy Life. The song, "Meet The Flockers," has lyrics that provide step-by-step instructions on how to burglarize a house. One of the lines reads, "Find a Chinese neighborhood, cause they don't believe in bank accounts." The line plays off of the stereotype that some foreigners—distrustful of banks and other institutions in a newly adopted country—stash their money in a mattress or shoebox or some other makeshift piggy-bank. (Note: This stereotype is obviously inaccurate; as someone who's grown up in Alhambra, which has a huge Asian population, I can tell you that the banks are doing pretty well out there.)
The video is mostly a scene-by-scene reenactment of the lyrics. As such, when the lyrics advise robbing an Asian-American household, the burglars in the video are shown breaking into the house of an Asian family (the family is seen briefly in a framed photo). From that point on, the lyrics/video dive into absurdist territory. At one point YG advises stealing socks, and boasts of driving a Prius. In the video, the burglars think they've been busted by a policeman, but it turns out the cop is just a regular guy who's looking to buy drugs.
For many in the Chinese and Asian-American communities, the bizarro tone of the song/video doesn't minimize the racist line that sticks out like a tack. They're saying that it promotes violence against a specific minority group, and basically instructs listeners to loot Asian-owned homes. "The song seems to hit the racial stereotypes, and encourages possible crimes targeted at a specific Chinese group," San Gabriel attorney Qiang Bjornbak told KPCC. "That is the problem."
Jane Kim of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voiced her opposition to the video, saying that "the message being sent is clear: Asian-American households are vulnerable, and make for ideal targets."
As reported by Fox 11, groups of Asian-business owners have approached the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office to get the video removed from YouTube, but they have been told that the video is protected by the First Amendment. There's also a few petitions circulating on the internet, including one that's being drafted to the White House that asks for the video to be taken down—it currently has more than 44,000 signatures. The petition's creator said that the song "encourages violence and crimes to a specific ethnic group. As one of this group in North America, I feel seriously offended and threatened. Please ban the song from public media and investigate legal responsibilities of the writer."
While the video was made two years ago, it wasn't until recently that it exploded on WeChat, a social media app that's wildly popular in China. Now, anger over the video has spread to other social platforms as well:
As noted at Shanghaiist, what may be fanning the flames is a recent shooting incident involving 36-year-old Chen Fengzhu. Chen, who lives in Georgia, had shot and killed a burglar who'd entered her home during the early morning on September 16. She later told Chinese media that Asian businesswomen were believed to store their money at home, rather than at a bank, making them attractive to would-be burglars.
KPCC reports that, while burglaries have seen a recent uptick in San Marino and Alhambra—neighborhoods with large Asian populations— authorities don't believe that the incidences were racially motived. San Marino police said that, among the recent burglary victims, there have been an equal number of Asian and non-Asian victims. Sgt. Jerry Johnson of the Alhambra Police Department said that "to blame burglary statistics on a song is frankly just a little bit ridiculous."
Johanna Ambicki, an executive assistant with the City of San Gabriel, told LAist that officers believe "there hasn't been an increase in burglaries" in San Gabriel. "The number's been the same," she said. Of recent burglaries she said that "there's no reason to believe they were motivated by race."
At any rate, the "Meet The Flockers" video has over 14,000 dislikes on YouTube (with only 831 likes). Will it incite a significant rise in burglaries against Asian households? That's perhaps unlikely. Is it stupid to instruct people to burglarize a specific minority group (even if it's done under the guise of mockery)? Yes, totally.