January 31, 2018

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Migos' Cinematic 'Stir Fry' Video Displays Black Culture's Longtime Appreciation For Kung Fu

Migos show off their more fun and creative side with new video "Stir Fry," one of the main highlights from the rap trio's newly released Culture II album.

Directed by Sing J. Lee and Quavo, the entertaining video finds the guys shedding their typical trap god skin and trying their hand on acting...and the end result is quite hilarious! It opens with Quavo, Offset and Takeoff gambling at the back of a nondescript restaurant alongside an orange-haired Pharrell (the producer behind the funky track) and his longtime buddy Nigo. Out of nowhere, they get a warning message in the form of a severed hand that's thrown through the window. The rappers then get their Bruce Lee on as they transform into martial artists to fight off their rivals. But aside from being fun to watch, the "Stir Fry" video is another showing of black culture's love for Kung Fu movies.

The most recent example occurred last April, when Kendrick Lamar brought his Kung Fu Kenny character to life for his "DNA" video. There, the rapper paid homage to legendary actor/original Kung Fu Kenny Don Cheadle (who also stars in the video) by wearing a similar outfit Cheadle's character wore in 2001's Rush Hour 2. The classic movie starred Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, and the entire premise of the franchise was about blending two cultures. In 2016, Netflix's The Get Down paid homage to the martial artists, with its debut episode introducing Shaolin (played by Shameik Moore) practicing his skills. And even 2010's The Karate Kid remake starred Jaden Smith with Chan as his instructor. 

But this appreciation has been happening since the '70s, thanks to the rise of Bruce Lee in mainstream movies. The actor was often scoring lead roles, a feat that was a rarity for people of color, especially of Asian heritage. And he was just so damn cool; his swagger was almost tangible on screen. The way that he performed martial arts was very intricate and was similar to the dedication Black people put towards dancing. In 2011's documentary I Am Bruce Lee, one commentator compared his footwork to African rhythms. The growing love for Bruce Lee bled into Blaxpoitation films, once the two movie genres fused together. This success was seen in 1972's Melinda, 1974's Black Belt Jones, 1973's Enter the Dragon (Lee's final movie co-starring Jim Kelly), 1975's Cleopatra Jones and Casino of Gold and 1985's The Last Dragon

Socio-economics also played a role in Kung Fu's popularity, as they were shown in predominately black neighborhoods alongside Blaxploitation movies in grindhouse theaters. Black people were disenfranchised among mainly white communities during the civil rights moment, which made it easier to connect with their Asian brothers' plight during the Vietnam War a few years prior. That support carried on for decades and remains strong as Black and Asian people are still fighting for equality in a political climate that threatens the lives of immigrants. While it will always take work to reach a place where injustice is no longer an issue, we have the art of music and film to highlight our allied strengths.

Next, watch Tinashe break down her Offset-featuring "No Drama" video for us, from the dance routine to all the different looks, as well as why her Joyride album took so long:

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