Heroes of Earth

Wang Leehom, 2005

How many different styles of music can you identify in the song? Why do think all of these styles are included?

What languages are in the song? Why do you think Wang Leehom chose to sing in multiple languages?

Who are the "heroes of earth"?

Wang Leehom is a Taiwanese-American. Do you think he is attempting to protect traditional Chinese culture and distinguish it from American and present day Chinese culture?

"Heroes of Earth" performed Leehom Wang on Heroes of Earth, © 2005. Available on YouTube.

For more information about Leehom Wang, visit his official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

https://clyrics.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/
wang-leehom-heroes-of-earth/

Wang Leehom (born Alexander Lee Hom Wang) was born in Rochester, New York, in 1976. As an Asian American of Taiwanese descent Wang often felt alienated as a child, and he turned to music to help him integrate. He was in school music programs and musicals growing up, and then studied music and Asian studies at Williams College and voice at the Berklee College of Music. Wang is a singer, actor, and producer, and he performs on multiple instruments, including guitar, piano, violin, and the erhu (a traditional Chinese spike fiddle).

Wang is one of several American-born Chinese performers who, with their knowledge of American popular culture, have recently become pop stars in China. The fusion of Chinese and American pop-music styles is known as C-pop. Since 2004, Wang has explored a style that he describes as American hip-hop and R&B that is "chinked-out," or blended with traditional Chinese elements and sounds. According to Boxi Chen, Wang's use of the derogatory racial slur "chink" enables him to reclaim it and re-cast its meaning in a positive light (Chen 74). Wang considers himself an "ambassador" for Chinese popular music throughout the world and tries to introduce new audiences to Chinese culture and music.

Gai shi ying xiong cover
"Gai shi ying xiong" cover.

The song "Gai shi ying xiong" (Heroes of Earth) appears on Wang's eleventh album, Gai shi ying xiong. In keeping with his style, the album contains elements of American pop and Chinese music, and Wang raps and sings in both English and Mandarin. Unique to this album, however, are characteristic features of Beijing and kunju opera. The song samples a recording of a Beijing opera singer and also features the hip-hop artist Jin the Emcee (see "Learn Chinese"), bringing two seemingly disparate entities together to represent the fusion of East and West, as well as old and new. As W. Anthony Sheppard points out, Wang is explicit that this is his aim. His rap opens with "Tonight my goal is certain / To bring Chinked-out to the whole world / Adding in Beijing Opera and kunju / Hip-hop enters a new phase / With this new breakthrough, a new musical style produced new heroes" (Sheppard 617).

For more about Wang Leehom, see "Descendants of Dragons."