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‘More than just my race’: B.C. artist raps about life as a minority

Tae Hauk grew up in Kelowna as one of the few visible minorities in his community

An artist who grew up in Kelowna is using his childhood in the Okanagan to create music and inspire young people who have experienced racism.

Nineteen-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Tae Hauk is currently studying music at the Toronto Metropolitan University.

He is ethnically Korean but was adopted and raised by a white family in Kelowna. Growing up, Hauk was often one of the only visible minorities in his class and community. He began writing music at a young age as a form of self-expression.

“Being a minority in a predominantly white town with Caucasian parents definitely affected the way I perceived the world, and I think hip-hop resonated with me consequently,” said Hauk.

Hauk said that he and his peers who were also visible minorities in Kelowna were frequently subject to racism and prejudice both in and outside of classrooms. Even in instances when people were not necessarily trying to be hateful, Hauk said he felt like he was singled out for looking different.

“I always felt there was this mono-culture in Kelowna where if you weren’t white you were lesser than,” said Hauk.

He said that he quickly realized that being Asian in Kelowna meant he was going to stand out, no matter what.

“I think it was a big part of why I wanted to be on stage so much. I could reinvent myself to be more than just my race.”

He wanted to be known as an artist, not just as an Asian person.

Now, he hopes to use his platform as a rapper, producer, and songwriter to empower youth who are experiencing what he went through.

“There is a severe lack of empowerment and representation for Asian kids in the Okanagan. The way I saw some kids treat other Asians and myself should not be acceptable, and yet it is. I was gaslit for so long into believing that I was being oversensitive.”

He attended KLO Middle School and it was there that he began to experiment with lyrics and music.

“Language in all mediums has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I get inspiration from everything.”

Hauk released his first ever song at 16, after recording it in his bedroom.

Now, his top song THE PROBLEM has nearly 200,000 streams on Spotify. The song was written and recorded while he was in high school and is a reflection of his experiences growing up in Kelowna, including rampant drug use among his peers.

@taehatestiktok Gen Z has a lot to figure out. #genz #relatable #prochoice #kelowna #undergroundhiphop ♬ original sound - Tae Hauk

Hauk hopes to one day create music as a full-time job. He is currently working on new tracks that hold up a magnifying glass to his experiences as a young person in the Okanagan.

“I hope that my story and whatever success I garner inspires the Asian community in Kelowna.”

“Racism should not be the cultural norm. We have to be better.”

READ MORE: Teens demand more from adults as youth violence rises in Kelowna

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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