The GUMSHIP 100: Asian Men of the Year 2012

Published On December 3, 2012 | By Dave | articles, features

 

75. Kobayashi (Competitive Eater)

You may know him as a competitive eating legend from the annual Nathan’s hot dog eating contest, but this year, Kobayashi decided to show a bit of range. From setting the record for most Twinkies eaten in one minute on the Wendy Williams show to setting a new chicken wing eating record at the Wing Bowl, Kobayashi proved two things this year: the man will do anything for a record, and he can stuff more than just sausages in his mouth. Pause. -Alex

 

74. Ki Hyun Ryu (Director / Animator)

If all you know about Avatar: The Last Airbender is the M Night Shyamalan disaster, you’re doing it wrong. Despite being made in America, the Nickelodeon cartoon is anime-level goodness, packed with great fight sequences and an excellent storyline older heads could get down with. This year, they rolled out the sequel and Ki Hyun Ryu, who was also assistant director for The Boondocks, played a pivotal role designing the look of the main characters and even directing every episode alongside Joaquim Dos Santos. With three seasons to go, it seems Ryu is just getting started. -Dave

 

73. Dominic “D-trix” Sandoval (Dancer)

Yo, D-trix sports a mean, mean Jin Kazama (Tekken), surprisingly, that’s not the main thing he’s known for. Dude really knows his dance. After winning America’s Best Dance Crew season 3 with Quest crew, he continued to make appearances on the show as a judge. But fans know he’s also big on YouTube. D-trix hosted the second season of Dance Showdown, providing colorful commentary on choreography executed by YouTube stars paired up with top choreographers in the industry. He also released a gang of ADD-powered comedic sketches that allowed him to reach 1 million subscribers this year. -Dave

 

72. Danny Brown (Rapper)

Little known fact, Detroit’s favorite new rapper is half Filipino. Yes, Fools Gold Records’ Danny Brown probably grew up chowing on lumpias before the less tasty adderalls he’s become synonymous with. Brown didn’t put any albums or mixtapes out this year, but he stayed relevant through countless singles, features and interviews. His most notable song was “Grown Up”. It showed the abrasive rapper may be marketable after all, as the song had crossover appeal without sacrificing any of the wild boy antics that make Danny Brown, Danny Brown. -Dave

 

71. Phil Yu (Blogger)

Phil Yu is the mind behind the most influential site for Asian-America to date. But why so angry, one might ask? Well, if you’ve never heard a gong sound upon entering a crowded room, witnessed complete strangers pantomime karate movements towards you on the way to the bus stop, or have gotten picked on for being crazy nice at the quadratic formula, then you probably wouldn’t understand. Yu is on this list as a salute for hitting over a decade (last year) of bringing a voice to a widely underrepresented, over-stereotyped and oft-overlooked ethnic group in mainstream media and raising awareness to the accomplishments, struggles and quite frankly, the existence of Asian-Americans at large. Also, this year he took it to audio with the Sound and Fury podcast, inviting guests like Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang and Disgrasian‘s Jen Wang. Boom mofos. Now I’m angry too. -MUG

70. Randall Park (Actor)

There’s something refreshing about Randall Park. He doesn’t take his shirt off and slap his belly every chance he gets in the spotlight. He doesn’t scream or act outlandish. He’s just a regular guy, and really, that’s something you don’t get to see everyday with Asian actors. First recognized in stand-up and the MTV show “Wild-N-Out”, Randall is now seen in commercials and small roles in notable TV shows, most recently, as “Asian Jim” in The Office. Dwight was so mad. -Kevin

 

69. Dumbfoundead (Rapper)

Dumbfoundead represents what most up-and-coming rappers do not have: a foundation in lyricism and a distinguishable brand. He started his way up from small shows in auditoriums to finding success online through his Grindtime battles and random kicks, ahem, clips. This year, he expanded on his YouTube success by adding some new series to his channel like the video advice column “Wisdumb” and the half-baked interview sessions in “The Hot Box”. He also dropped Taking the Stares with the help of Breezy Lovejoy, an artist he’s managing, who supplied the smooth beats and choruses to bring that crossover appeal. #KoreanJesus -Kevin

 

68. Ilram Choi (Stuntman)

Amidst the Avengers and Dark Knight Rises madness, your friendly neighborhood Spiderman had his moment too. The franchise reboot, Amazing Spiderman, replaced puppy-eyed Tobey Maguire with the smart-mouth Andrew Garfield but that’s not all. The production team brought more realism to the flick by doing more actual stunts and relying less on CGI. Ilram Choi was one of three stunt doubles who donned the suit and he really swung through NYC streets on a wire. Asian Spiderman, we did it (kind of, but we’ll take it)! -Dave

 

67. Rik Cordero (Director)

Queens stand up! Rik Cordero is probably the coolest Asian dude to rep the most underrated of the 5 NYC boroughs. Named one of the 100 Most Influential Artists of the Complex Decade by Complex Magazine in 2012, I’m 100% positive that his video rendition of Action Bronson’s “The Symbol” this year had something to do with that.  Set in the gritty streets of GhettoVille, USA circa 1970-something, Rik has Action Bronson looking more like Charles Bronson, diving across poker tables, force feeding pimps ammonia, and bucking off on sword wielding martial artists. EPIC. In addition to his directing, Rik has also taken up the task of artist development through mentorship of the young and highly-talented Canadian upstart, D-Pryde. Peep the little homie’s youtube page and you’ll see why Rik is getting in on the ground floor with the DJ Suss One co-signed lyricist. 2012 was a big year, but the future is looking even bigger for the camera-wielding Q-U native. Queens get the money! -MUG

 

66. Ken Jeong (Actor)

Sure you may despise his constant presence as a stereotypical Asian oddball in his major movie and TV appearances, but Ken Jeong knows how to put himself out there. His role as the goofball in Community and as an eccentric mobster in The Hangover series has pushed the doctor-turned-comedian further up the Hollywood comedy ladder. In the upcoming year, Jeong will continue his ascent through a special partnership with comedian/actor Jamie Foxx, in which the two will appear in each other’s projects–one of which will also star Kevin Hart. So whatever animosity you might feel, let it go, or least let it subside as Dr. Ken seems to have the antidote. -Jordan

65. Heejun Han

There have been Asians on American Idol before, ranging from good (Paul Kim) to terrible (William Hung), but none quite like Heejun Han. In the 11th season of the show, the Queens kid played the humble and charmed audiences with his awkward but likable, FOB sensibilities (yes, holding your hand around your wrist to show Ryan Seacrest how small his face is as FOB as it gets, bruh). More importantly, he sang his ass off and did what no Asian could do before him, compete in the finals. Although he didn’t win the grand prize, he signed to Korean label Polaris in November and proved we should never underestimate the karaoke fiend in the group. -Dave

 

64. Yosuke Hayashi & Yohei Shimbori (Producer / Game Director)

After a seven-year hiatus, Dead or Alive came back bigger and better than ever. DOA producer Yosuke Hayashi and director Yohei Shimbori made sure the newest addition appealed to casual button mashers and tournament competitors alike. To accomplish the latter, the team added sidesteps and countering strikes, making it a battle of the wits as opposed to a match largely determined by character selection. But the real hero moment comes from their decision to retain the hyper sexuality of the game despite pressure to tone it down. Not because we’re trying to celebrate the advances in CGI boob technology (don’t get me wrong, it’s is a beautiful thing), but because they stayed true and gave the fans what they wanted. -Dave

 

63. Choice37 (Producer)

“Ayo Choice, drop it on me” is one of the most recognizable (albeit uber pauseworthy) phrases in K-pop-crazed Asia. That’s because Choice37 makes hits, and the artists (namely superstar G-Dragon) never fail to acknowledge the man behind the soundtrack. This year, the Cali native and in-house producer for YG Entertainment really showcased the range of his skills. For Big Bang’s “Bad Boy”, he created a lush, slowed-down R & B anthem that resembled the fluttering of cherub wings and for G-Dragon’s lead single “One of a Kind”, he orchestrated what could have been a Hell’s Angels rally. Each song has gained massive hits on YouTube (26 million for “Bad Boy” and 17 million for “One of a Kind”) but we give Choice37 props for making bangers that transcend the genre. -Dave

 

62. Kazu Kokubo (Snowboarder)

Snowboarder Kazu Kokubo was quiet this year, compared to last year when he snagged his second consecutive win at the US Open. But we’re talking about a quiet year for one of the best to ever do it. In 2012, Kokubo got his own G-shock watch and linked up with Adidas to be a part of its new pro team. But our favorite moment is the release of the “Stonp or Die” DVD. The Japanese representative took all the shine he’s been getting and threw it back on his all-Japanese crew. Class act. -Dave

 

61. Ben Baller (Jeweler)

Having built his name around outfitting hip-hop’s boldest and brightest names with the an assortment of jewelry, the West-coast veteran continues to be a staple in the Cali influencer scene. With his new reality show, Insane Bling, Baller introduced us to his friends (wuttup Pusha!) and walked us through the process of how business gets done. Okay, so the show is a glorified commercial for his business. We’re not mad at it, especially when he tells his partners they’re going for ‘jaji massages’ later (Korean for rub and tug) for added hilarity. -Jordan

60. Bobby Hundreds (Designer)

Bobby Kim, affectionately known as Bobby Hundreds, is ½ of the very successful streetwear brand. Thanks to his never-ending commitment to his fanbase, you can drive on the 110, and you’ll see the “Adam Bomb” plastered on cars, streetlamps, everywhere. He is the passion behind the brand, and there’s no sign of slowing down, as he sponsors up-and-coming skaters and artists. Always a collaborator, especially with childhood brands that he grew up with, Bobby recently revived the Nerf Turbo Football, complete with matching apparel. A true product of Los Angeles. -Kevin

 

59. Das Racist (Rappers)

The group formerly known as Das Racist? What? Yes, MCs Heems & Kool A.D. along with hypeman Dapwell, have called it quits for now, shelving the release of their 2nd studio album in what is coincidentally the same calendar year that they signed with Sony/Megaforce records. If this isn’t upsetting, you’re probably unaware of the subversively ironic, passively cynical and proudly satirical stylings that can best be compared to the theoretical offspring of Hannibal Lecter’s memoirs cross bred with the sound track of Andy Warhol’s mind. But with Kool A.D. releasing two solo mixtapes this year (The Palm Wine Drinkard and 51) and Heems doing the same (Nehru Jackets and Wild Water Kingdom), it’s clear that both artists look to remain active on the studio front. In addition, A.D. founding his own management and recording company, Veehead Music, under Heems’ existing label, Greedhead Music, makes it hard for Das Racist fans to stay salty about the break. With their business still intertwined, let’s keep our fingers the same way and hope for the eventual release of their next group album. -MUG

 

58. Will Yun Lee (Actor)

Some good actors just have really bad luck. Will Yun Lee has a history of locking down roles in big action flicks that end up doing horrible from a critical standpoint (Torque, Elektra, Die Another Day). This year he starred in two remakes, Red Dawn and Total Recall, and they also ranked pretty high on the ‘suck’ meter. So why is he on this list? Two words, Sleeping Dogs. Lee lent his voice to the sleeper-hit video game about that triad life. In most GTA-esque titles, it’s usually a nihilistic bullet-frenzy-free-for-all. But in Sleeping Dogs, the story was centered around an undercover cop falling in-too-deep with his gangster persona. It was some heavy shit and Lee lent the necessary complexity to the character that made it believable. -Dave

 

57. Freddie Wong (Director / Actor)

If you’ve ever wanted to see all your childhood fantasies come to life, tune into Freddie Wong’s YouTube channel. In 2012 included an EA break-in, an epic battle between old and new school video games, and racing go karts with Rob Dyrdek. Other special effects crews may have the same technology, but nobody is reproducing those visions with such a child-like sense of humor and imagination. But his biggest highlight was definitely Video Game High School, a nine-episode web series that combined his special effects expertise, great story-telling, and of course, gunplay. Mad gunplay. -Dave

 

56. DJ Rhettmatic & DJ Babu of the World Famous Beat Junkies (DJ / Producer)

Legendary DJ crew, the World Famous Beat Junkies, celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re basically a “Superfriends” group of DJs that have had a profound influence on the culture. Two of its members, Dj Rhettmatic and DJ Babu, happen to be Filipino and came up at a time when Asians in hip hop were still getting the side eye from both sides of the racial fence. But through their undeniable skills and support of their crew, they made that impact and continue to do so today. Check out the “45 Series” they just released as a crew, as well as the Stones Throw/LRG documentary For the Record. Their anniversary tour is ending soon, but try to catch the show when it come your way. -Kevin

55. Danny Pudi (Actor)

Indian/Polish heartthrob (okay, personal editorial bias) had a good year. Aside from continuing his role as Abed on the cult-favorite show, Community, he gave birth to twins (okay, his wife did). He also took part in Squad 85, an online series about a team of time traveling cops from 1985. We always felt he was ahead of his time, but damn. -Richard

 

54. Bambu (Rapper)

Bambu is one of the realest rappers to ever put pen to paper and vocals on tracks. The LA-based MC, activist, educator and everybody’s big homie, maintains a loyal and homegrown fan-base by sticking to his guns and delivering on the implied promise of quality & authenticity that being an MC carries along with it. Never shying away from voicing his politics, showing concern for the hood in his lyrics, flipping birds to 5-0, and being Filipino than a mofo, this man gets daps for giving and not giving a damn at the same damn time. With the release of his fourth solo album, One Rifle Per Family, Bambu has firmly cemented that-dude-status in the rap game and on our list. Listen up, young’n! -MUG

 

53. Cung Le (Fighter / Actor)

Some fans have called for 40-year old Cung Le’s MMA retirement after his loss to Wanderlei Silva in 2011, but he shut them up this year with two victories. The more explosive of the two fights went down at China’s first UFC main event in Macau. Le went up against “Bloody Elbow” Rich Franklin and ended him with a knockout punch in the first round! The Vietnamese fighter also found time to further his acting career, most notably in the role of the Bronze Lion in RZA’s Man with the Iron Fists. We’re not saying 40 is the new 30 or nothing like that but Le will hurt you. -Dave

 

52. Aasif Mandvi (Actor)

The Daily Show’s team of correspondents had their hands full this Election year, but Aasif Mandvi’s biggest moment had nothing to do with the Presidential Race. In a segment called “Poor Pee-ple”, he exposed the hypocrisy of the humiliating Florida Welfare Drug Testing Law by interviewing both sides of the law and even going so far as asking Governor Rick Scott to pee in a cup! Mandvi also displayed his more serious acting chops as the lead in an off-Broadway play called Disgraced. We’re not here to say which is more amazing, all we know is you can’t put the man in a box. -Dave

51. Mike Shinoda (Rapper)

In all likelihood, Mike Shinoda is one of the most multifaceted members of this list. Aside from contributing to Linkin Park’s general music swag as a keyboardist, guitarist, song writer, producer and vocalist, he gets down filthy with the graphic design and stays on top of the band’s on-line branding. B-T-dubs, the Linkin Park band page has over 47 million likes on Facebook, that’s right up there with the Biebs (just saying). Last year, he produced the score for an Indonesian martial arts motion picture entitled The Raid: Redemption and followed that up with Linkin Park’s most recent full length album, Living Things. The lead single “Burn It Down” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and the band won Best Alternative Rock at the American Music Awards. Accolades aside, people tend to forget that Mike Shinoda is primarily an MC and has been killing it for over a decade, making him arguably the most successful and critically acclaimed Asian rapper to date. Bars. -MUG

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About The Author

founded Gumship in 2012 to document the Asian American experience through culture, lifestyle and entertainment. When he's not blogging, he creates music as the rapper Rekstizzy. Hobbies include ramen, fried chicken, and pizza. If he could eat all three at the same time, the joy in his heart would cause him to levitate off the floor in a spiral motion.