Beat Junkies member DJ Rhettmatic, whose career has spanned nearly 30 years, recently sat down with HardKnockTV to discuss Asian Americans and their role in Hip Hop.

The storied deejay discussed trying to gain respect early on. “For me, coming up…I used to have a cat kinda hating, like ‘What is this Asian, what it is this Chinese dude doing?’ The coolest part was, you had to show and prove. For my generation, you had to really show and prove. Once you showed and proved, show you got heart, got skills and all that stuff, and you went through all the trenches, they respect you.”

Rhettmatic also addressed difficulties arising within his community, not just outside of it. “If you go into the Asian scenes, they’re really into Hip Hop, but sometimes, they just don’t go beyond that. For Filipinos…we were known for being good imitators, but never good originators… In order to get respect, you had to break out of that bubble and go into that ‘hardcore’ scene. You can be popular in that scene, but that doesn’t mean nothing if you don’t really branch out. It was even kinda crazy… I even got hated on by my own people, saying, ‘What are you doing, you trying to be black? What are you, a fligger?'”

“We had to work ten times harder. The irony now is that …the Filipino community is now much more supportive,” he added.

“It was like, ‘You’re an Asian American Hip Hopper,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m a Hip Hopper that happens to be Asian American.'”

Watch the interview below: