"Meet The Flockers," a track from YG's 2014 debut My Krazy Life, has been accused of racism by members of the Chinese-American community, GQ reports. The focus of the controversy are some lines in which YG discusses targeting Chinese-American residences for robberies based on a stereotype: First, you find a house and scope it out/ Find a Chinese neighborhood, cause they don't believe in bank accounts.
The sudden backlash may stem from a single event: the attempted robbery of Fengzhu Chen, a Chinese American woman in Georgia. When three masked intruders broke into her residence, she opened fire, killing one and injuring another. Security camera footage of the incident went viral on on Weibo and WeChat, two popular social media networks. Not long after, YG's song resurfaced, and was accused of making Chinese-Americans into easy targets.
A White House petition has been started calling on the government to "ban 'Meet The Flockers' from public media and investigate the legal responsibilities of YG." So far, it has been signed over 64,000 times, with just over 21,000 more signatures required for an official response from the White House. San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim has asked YG and his label Def Jam to disavow the song.
Controversy surrounding the song began soon after My Krazy Life's release. YG talked about why he made the track in a 2014 interview with FM. "I just wanted to share the experience [of breaking into houses] with the people, because that's a part of the culture. Especially where I'm from, in L.A., the west coast, that's a big part of the culture of a teenager or someone in their mid-20s, that's what they doin', they breaking into houses. That's what I did." (YG goes in-depth on his time robbing homes in his 2015 FADER cover story.)
Writing for GQ, Esther Wang discusses why many expect hip-hop to juggle social responsibility and artistic excellence in ways other forms of creative expression get a pass for. Hip hop is perhaps the only art form whose fictions are confused for truth, and not only charged with inciting violence, but criminalized. Few would accuse Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita of being the prime driver of pedophilia (though it too has been the subject of misguided calls to ban it from distribution). It requires a considerable stretch of the imagination, as well as a certain amount of naivete, to believe that a song released in 2014 is what’s driving crimes against Chinese American immigrants in 2016."
Wang says that while black-on-asian crime is on the rise in places like Sacramento and San Francisco, and banning "Meet The Flockers" is a reactionary gesture that won't make anyone safer. "The concerns are real, but the response doesn’t only miss the forest for the trees, it overshoots it altogether and lands somewhere in the realm of farce. Calls for censorship, after all, rarely address the issue their proponents seek to fix." Read Wang's entire piece at GQ here.
A representative for YG did not immediately return a request for comment.