Welcome back to Watermelon Sushi World, all you Hip Hapa Homeez. It seems that from time to time, I’m asked to explain why the word hapa is not exclusive to people who are half Asian. Hapa is how Native Hawai’ians (Kanaka Maoli) pronounced the English word 'half' to describe their children that were born with one European parent. Technically, anyone half is hapa.
One of my favorite hapas is Robert Lee Taylor, a record producer who is also producing the Watermelon Sushi film and co-producing a YouTube radio show with Yours Truly. Look for Sexy Voices of Hollywood coming to you soon! Robert has a very international following and below he explains how he developed his cross-cultural agenda. Check out Robert and the musical talent he manages in the photos following.
Q: What's a nice hapa black and white guy like you doing speaking Korean?
A: Prior to working in the film industry, I worked for the U.S. government in Washington D.C., a couple of blocks from the White House. While in college, I studied Korean as a Second Language (KSL) and later worked as a cultural attaché for several companies. I have lived and worked in the Asian international community for over ten years. As a youth and as far back as I can recall, I was always drawn to Asian culture. My parents also worked for the U.S. government in different parts of Asia, and my father lived and worked in Korea for three years. Learning to read, write and speak Korean as a Second Language as well as learning Korean culture resulted in many different job offers for me.
In addition to the preceding careers, I taught English, math and science at a Korean private school for many years. Later, I was hired to work as an international project manager, worked for a Korean real estate company, was the official spokesperson and campaign manager for a Korean American political candidate in the State of Virginia and a 50/50 business partner of what later became an energy and aerospace LLC (Limited Liability Company). I worked on Embassy Row in the U.S. capital and have met with and visited representatives of the Russian and Korean Embassies in addition to foreign dignitaries.
Q: How did you grow up?
A: My mother is Caucasian and originally from the Pacific Northwest and my father is African American and originally from the South. My parents were both career Armed Forces service members. My mother worked at U.S. Embassies in different countries in the Cryptologic field of Naval Intelligence. She had been in the Army for four years before transferring to the Navy to complete her more than twenty years of government service, during which time she lived in Northern Virginia. It was when she was in the Army that she met my father. My father was a teacher of Sociology and taught race relations for the military back in the 1960s during times of heightened racial tensions throughout America.
My mother, a white woman from the mountainous region of Washington State, happened to be in one of my father’s classes. Originally, having been in a science-related program and studying microbiology, my mother earned her college degree in business administration. Later she studied codes, ciphers and military communications at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.
In addition to living in Korea for three years, my father lived in Germany, Panama and some other places before he retired to the ‘windy city’ of Chicago. As with many military families, I moved around quite a bit during my youth. I have traveled to over twenty-five states, have lived in the Bay Area at the Naval Air Station in Alameda (literally a few blocks from downtown Oakland), have lived in Hayward California, Washington State, Chicago, Northern Virginia, Brandenburg Germany and many other places.
Q: How did you get into the music industry?
A: During high school, I followed through with my childhood plan to become an entrepreneur in the world of business, arts and entertainment, and other industries. When I was of the legal age, I drafted my first official business plan and applied for a business license with the city, state and federal governments. Earlier, I had been an athlete, played track and field and was a regional track star. I also played football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and was in gymnastics and studied martial arts. I had a goal to try out for the U.S. Olympics after ten years of gymnastics training. When I was in high school, I realized that despite having played sports for most of my life, I also had a proclivity for music and fine art. I decided to abandon my goal of becoming a famous sports star to become a professional artist and producer. Back in the very early 1990s and while still in high school, I enrolled in a business and computer training program so that I could figure out how to multitask as both an artist and a business manager who would be capable of handling his own bookkeeping and business affairs without having to depend on someone else.
Q: Who are some of the talent you manage?
A: Currently, I am managing a boy band/rap group called T.G.W.N. (Team Great White North) and an Asian American rapper named Koreon who was recently invited to work with the group. TGWN is slated to represent the next greatest boy band from North America. The single "Ain't Telling Me Nothing" by Doug Crawford of TGWN from Edmonton Alberta is now available across the Web and via dozens of companies such as iTunes and Interscope Digital Distribution. TGWN boy band members consist of Caucasian, Canadian, urban music artists, with the addition of an African American U.S. artist, who all have a long history of having worked with artists from Los Angeles and other parts of the West Coast. During the time that the boy band was signed to the independent label AONN Records of which I am the founder, they sold thousands of CDs and opened live, in concert and on tour, for over a dozen major (platinum) recording artists.
Q: How has being mixed impacted you as an artist?
A: Being biracial has provided me with a perspective of West Coast business, music and politics conducive to urban music marketing. For example, it has been said that Caucasians between the ages of 12 and 29 years of age tend to be the largest consumers of urban music, of which the latter has historically been made mostly by African Americans. As a mixed African American-Caucasian, I have seen both worlds, first hand, in a way that helps me produce advanced marketing strategies that seem to appeal to many African Americans and Caucasians alike. I know both markets.
Q: What are your plans as the producer for the Watermelon Sushi film?
A: My plan is to obtain multimillion dollar funding with which to properly produce Watermelon Sushi. I seek to transform the movie into a successful and well-respected, multinational enterprise. One of my goals is to create a full-fledged entertainment company comprised of, but not limited to, filmmaking, entertainment publishing, a radio and television show, merchandising, and so forth.
Q: What is Sexy Voices of Hollywood, and what is its future?
A: Sexy Voices of Hollywood is a biweekly Internet radio show featuring you (Yayoi) and me interviewing the sexiest voices of Hollywood. From its top stars to the people who keep the stars on top, we will feature them all.
I see Sexy Voices of Hollywood fast becoming one of the most popular shows for arts and entertainment on the World Wide Web supported by major, reputable sponsors.
Thank you and, by the way, Robert. You really do have a sexy voice!
Hey, Hip Hapa Homeez, don’t forget our Hapa*Teez shirts on Café Press. Your purchase helps support our Watermelon Sushi film. Check out effervescent Eva above in her Hapa Nation tee. Also, please “like” our Watermelon Sushi Fan page on Facebook. While you’re there, join our Hip Hapa Homeez Group page to stay updated on the latest news about blendies, mixies and transracial adoptees.
Here's the link to Team Great White North on YouTube:
Oh, and one of Robert's first CD's is available below.
Until we meet again, I will always be…
Your Hip Hapa,