50. Yu Tsai (Photographer)

Terry Richardson wasn’t the only one snapping flicks of Kate Upton this year. Yu Tsai was the man behind that sick Esquire cover, where you pulled the sleeve back on Jon Hamm to reveal the voluptuous supermodel. Pow! Tsai also shot the much-publicized Lindsay Lohan nudes for Playboy. We don’t really like throwing anyone under the bus to build somebody else up (yeah we do) but he put the midas on the hot mess that is Lohan and actually made her desirable again for that centerfold. Skills. -Dave


49. Jeff Staple (Designer)

In 2005, something monumental happened for Jeff “Staple” Ng. He landed a deal with Nike and released a pair of low top Dunks featuring his signature “Staple Pigeon” to so much fanfare, riots broke out on the Lower East Side. This was pre-How To Make It in America LES, before the Whole Foods on the corner of Houston and Bowery, and the dinge of NYC decay was still present despite the Bloomberg administration’s ‘progressive’ scrub. Up until that time, having to fight to keep your kicks was something that happened over Jordan XI’s and not in the Lower East Side at boutiques. That sneaker release was a reality check–that streetwear, skate culture and hip-hop had finally connected and set the tone for urban style for years to come. Seven years later, Jeff has continued to make history, albeit in less notorious fashion, through collaborations with the likes of New Era, Beats by Dre, Kid Robot, and most recently a distribution deal with Karmaloop and Urban Outfitters. -Jordan


48. Bao Phi (Spoken Word Artist)

Does anybody still read poetry? Yeah, man. And if you don’t, Bao Phi is a great place to start. The Vietnam-born Minnesotan has been dropping truth bombs for over two decades now but only put out his first book, Sông I Sing, late last year. Inside, Phi goes in on all the topics that we need to discuss (as Asians especially) like race, hip hop, immigration, anger, and even love sometimes. 2012 was also the year Star Tribune named Phi Best Spoken Word Artist and the Minnesota State Arts Board blessed him with an Artist Initiative grant. It’s good to see somebody doing good for our community, also get some recognition outside of it. -Dave


47. DJ Neil Armstrong (DJ)

This year, DJ Neil Armstrong, former tour DJ for Jay-z and member of the almighty 5th Platoon, was touring and putting out mixtapes as usual. The highlight might have been the incredible “Thinking of You” remix that infused the Frank Ocean hit with old school vibes. Or maybe it was the Brooklyn dedication ‘Marcy to Barclay’s Center mixtape commemorating the new BK arena. The DJ also celebrates 10 year anniversaries for the mixtapes that put him on the map, Sweeet and Original. -Dave


46. Roy Choi (Chef)

Roy Choi, the godfather of food trucks, made noise on all different levels this year. He ran a downtown popup with Beastie Boys’ Mike D at MOCA during Transmission LA, he cooked aside Jean-Georges at the NYC Wine & Food Festival, and most recently, he spoke in defense of loud ass restaurants on the Today Show. Turned up! But when Chef Roy Choi posted a blog about going vegetarian, fans and food writers spazzed. What would happen to their beloved tacos (Kogi BBQ), Cracklin’ Beer Can Chicken (A-Frame), Chubby Pork Belly bowls (Chego), and Two Fisted Cheeseburgers (Sunnyspot)? Choi assured folks he wouldn’t be pulling them off menus and was undergoing a self-imposed time of reflection and discovery for his art form. Whew. Look out for his book, Spaghetti Junction: Riding Shotgun with an LA Chef, in 2013. –Dave

45. Mike Song (Dancer)

Mike Song has been a darling of the dance scene for a long time now. But ever since his appearance on the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew, he’s kind of been all over the place. This year, Song decided to get down and really build a foundation on Youtube, starting with dance tutorials, then dynamic performances with his crew, the Kinjaz. As great as those were, none reached the greatness that was the “Gangnam Style” choreography he did with his mom. It wasn’t long before it went viral, and the mother-son duo popped up on Ellen. Word. Add ajoomah (middle-aged woman) heartthrob to his list of achievements. -Dave


44. Eddie Huang (Chef)

If you didn’t hear about Eddie Huang this year, your life was probably on mute. The chef/pop culture icon continued to build his brand with his Fresh Off The Boat show on Vice, and let his opinions be known when he spoke out about Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, stepping up to defend certain standards when it comes to the culinary field. With a memoir also out, it’s safe to say that we’ll hear from Eddie Huang again next year. Bigger, louder, probably better. -Alex


43. Richard Chai (Designer)

New York native. Parsons graduate. Trained in Paris. Though having all three things under your belt is a rarity, Chai is a visionary whose foray into fashion was a seemingly meticulous destiny. For the last 8 years Chai has been pushing the limits of fashion, infusing his women and men’s lines with his own distinct taste that manages to bridge the gap between traditional and modern. -Jordan



42. Justin Lin (Director)


Justin Lin is in between projects right now, wrapping up production on the latest Fast and Furious flick and possibly working on Highlander (woah) and The Terminator (holy shit). Pretty intense. So what does he do in the meantime? Launch a Youtube channel for his blog’s You Offend Me You Offend My Family. Between Sung Kang’s hilariously uncomfortable Acting for Action and serious bro-code violation MotherLover, there’s something for everyone. -Dave


41. Fred Armisen (Actor)

People are finally admitting Saturday Night Live is funny again, but really though, that’s late pass shit. Part-Japanese Fred Armisen has been on the show for a long time now (try 11 years), and he’s been holding the show down, especially in the last couple of years. A good example is The Californians, a soap opera sketch based around Californians giving directions in the midst of high-tension drama. Everyone involved in the sketch does their thing but Armisen’s timing and attention to small details (peep his suspended-in-time duckface when saying ‘what are you doing here?’) that steals the show. SNL fans aren’t the only ones who took notice as Armisen played hipsters from Portland on the Simpsons this year. Portlandia season 3 in the new year! –Dave

40. Hiroki Kuroda

The questions following his signing had to do with his age (37), his history of playing in pitcher friendly ballparks (Chavez Ravine), and his race (Asian).  Yankees fans and sportswriters weren’t being racist (ok, maybe just a tad?), but history wasn’t on Kuroda’s side.  Chien-Ming Wang (Shoulder injury), Chan Ho Park (Diarrhea), Kei Igawa (Looked like a rabbit; couldn’t pitch in the majors), and Hideki Irabu (“Fat, P*ssy Toad).  So what did he do?  Arguably, he became the staff ace, became a work-horse, and dominated in his first season in pinstripes.  Not too bad – the Yankees quickly re-signed Kuroda for another year. –Richard



39. Ki Duk Kim (Director)


Bursting onto the world stage with 2003’s elegiac Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, Ki Duk Kim is of a dedicated breed of arthouse director specializing in that contemporary sort of existentialism which Korea’s so good at making. Sadhouse cinema, if you will. After being beset by personal tragedy in recent years, Kim returned in style with Pieta, the first Korean film to win at the three major international film fests, scooping both Venice’s Golden Lion award and the prestigious Un Certain Regard trophy in Cannes this year. Korean sadhouse is surely here to stay, with Ki Duk Kim riding the crest of its wave. –Giacomo


38. Yishan Wong (CEO)

Reddit became an independent entity last year and in April, they found their CEO, Yishan Wong. In the first couple of months, he’s seen some wild shit. The president of the United States did an AmA (Ask Me Anything)! On the flip side, the site received negative press when internet troll, Violentacrez, was exposed and the media brought attention to certain forums you might find on the site (jailbait, picsofdeadkids, etc). In response, Wong released a statement about the community’s policy of promoting free speech and expression as long as its legal, and he and the team ‘unbanned’ Gawker. It seems like he has a handle on how to uphold the principles of the community and still do right. –Dave

37. L’Arc-en-Ciel (Band)

Kpop isn’t the only Asian genre sending over ambassadors to sell out shows. L’Arc-en-Ciel is one of Japan’s biggest rock bands, and on their 20th Anniversary World tour, they damn near sold out Madison Square Garden. After the tour, the band members plan to move forward with solo projects so it was a bittersweet way to cap off two decades of rock. But there’s enough L’Arc-en-ciel in video games (Daigasso! Band Brothers), anime (Rurouni Kenshin, Great Teacher Onizuka), movies (Final Fantasy, Full Metal Alchemist), and of course, their own albums to hold fans over until the inevitable reunion. –Dave


36. Dao-Yi Chow (Designer)

From heading Sean John’s marketing to starting not one but two lines, Dao-Yi Chow has been endorsed by many as the next big name in couture street fashion. This year saw his company, Black Apple, make major strides in the men’s contemporary game, with nods from music stars to major network fashion shows. Black Apple’s style is not reflective of what’s going on in high-end street fashion but what today’s youth want and legitimately feel for. In the last few years, the Queens-bred Chow has appeared in campaigns for Tanqueray,  Target, and the Complex Media Network further pushing his presence, all while tying in his brand and solidifying his spot as a downtown influencer. –Jordan

35. !llmind (Producer)

A consistent work ethic and obsession for his craft are two keys to success for Jersey’s own !llmind. In an interview with Fuse, he said “being persistent and maintaining your passion…will make or break you.” Earning placement on Kanye West’s Cruel Summer with “The Morning”, it’s safe to say that ILL Mind knows what he’s talking about. With additional placements on 50 cent’s Lost Tape, frequent-collaborator Skyzoo’s A Dream Deferred, and works in progress with two of KPOP’s biggest stars, Drunken Tiger and Yoon-Mi-Rae aka Tasha, 2012 has been busy.  Adding to his list of achievements, !llmind launched his radio show, BLAP on the Radio, and his group, Smokey Robotic, was named to the Top 100 Emerging Artists of 2012 list on Artist on the Verge Top 100 Chart. That’s enough ‘putting in work’ to make your granddad’s “back in my day” story prefaces seem unworthy of mention. If you want to get like him, pick up the latest !llmind Blap Kit available now –MUG

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34. Kal Penn (Actor)

Kal Penn’s career is bipolar. Sure, he’s a medical professional on both of his current TV roles, but he works with a grump for one (House) and he’s trying to hump on another (How I Met Your Mother). Outside of television, it’s another balancing act. The star of stoner flicks (Van WIlder, Harold & Kumar) works at the freaking White House. He did his part during the election year by speaking at the Democratic National Convention. Some people expected Penn to make some pothead references, but he kept things clean and we’re not mad at it. #sexyface –Dave


33. Ryota Murata (Boxer)

In 2008, Ryan Murata failed to qualify for the Olympic Games. He retired from the sport to start coaching but decided to come back a year and a half later. During this year’s games, Murata defeated Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao in the men’s middleweight finals, earning gold and ending a long wait for Japan (their last boxing gold medal was attained in 1964!). Since then, the national hero has closed the boxing chapter in his life, even turning down a million dollar deal to go pro. We don’t know if we would be able to walk away from a milli but that’s his prerogative for being a mothafucking champ! –Dave


32. Humberto Leon (Designer)

Years from now when fashion historians study the epoch of contemporary NYC fashion during the first decade of the 21st century, the store Opening Ceremony will undoubtedly be mentioned, with founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s names listed in the credits. Since 2002, Opening Ceremony has become synonymous wit premiere styles by fashion’s latest crop of freshmen talent. Having expanded their retail presence in Los Angeles and Tokyo, it seems as if the games have only begun for Opening Ceremony, with 2013 looking to be another stellar year for the Lim & Leon enterprise. –Jordan


31. Salman Kahn

He has been described as “the world’s first superstar teacher” by Russian physicist/venture capitalist, Yuri Milner, regarded as a true pioneer in education by the king of nerds himself, Bill Gates, and referred to as “awesome” by a random YouTube user. Salman Khan has redefined the world of education. As founder of the Khan Academy, Khan specializes in bringing free education to the masses through the use of over 3,600 videos on nearly all topics covered from grades K-12. With more than 400,000 subscribers and over 200 million views on YouTube to date, Khan was also featured in Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in 2012 list. With the Khan Academy website boasting over 6 million unique users per month and its online lessons being incorporated in over 20,000 curriculums throughout the world, that influence is readily quantifiable. It’s no wonder Forbes magazine referred to Khan’s innovation as a “$1 Trillion Opportunity.” –MUG

30. Hayao Miyazaki (Director)

Artist, director and writer, Hayao Miyazaki is not just the mastermind of the illustrious Studio Ghibli, but the undisputed master of Japanese animation today. Say the words Spirited Away or Totoro, and everyone knows exactly who and what you’re talking about. Two newer classics to add to his list are The Secret World of Arrietty, which saw intentional release in ’12, and the beautiful From Up on Poppy Hill, which bagged all the major anime awards this spring. Watch out for next year’s Kaze Tachinu, his first foray into feature-film directing in almost five years. –Giacomo


29. Dalai Lama (Leader)

He’s the Hugh Heff of Zen, the Michael Jordan of Meditation, and the Will-I-Am of Monk-Swag currently selling out arenas with his one sleeve gun-show. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, has become a universal symbol of spiritualism to atheists and the devout alike. The Nobel Peace Prize recipient was not only regarded by Time magazine as one of the most influential world leaders, but has done so without an official political office. With close to 6 million followers and likes on Twitter and Facebook respectively, his progressive views on the application of religion have garnered him mainstream popularity. In 2012, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for his studies in neuroscience, particularly, the power of compassion and its affect on the human psyche.  \To really drive the point home, the Dalai Lama donated the entire $1.7 million cash prize to an Indian Charity, “Save the Children.” We wonder how that affected his psyche. –MUG


28. Ichiro Suzuki (Baseball Player)

It’s not often you get to watch a future Hall of Fame baseball player plying his trade for your home team (unless you’re a Yankees fan), but Ichiro Suzuki had been quietly fading into obscurity in the Pacific Northwest on a team going nowhere; putting up pedestrian numbers, and beginning the inevitable fade that besets every player as they get closer to the end of their career. A living legend in Japan, and assigned an armada of reporters that follow his every move in America, Ichiro was known more for his tickle fights with teammates and vulgar, expletive-laden motivational speeches at All-Star games. But in a flash, Ichiro was traded to the New York Yankees and began to play like the player that once won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. Currently negotiating a contract to stay in New York, it looks like the spotlight that was dimming a mere year ago, will be shining brightly in the Bronx. At least for another year. –Richard

27. Juunichi Masuda & Takao Unno (Video Game Manager / Director)

Hey guys, Pokemon is still a thing. In fact, it’s huge. The latest addition, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, sold 865,000 copies during the month of October alone and 4.26 million worldwide. The reason for the success of the franchise isn’t just a spillover from its first boom in the 90’s. After so long, the story lines are consistently engaging and the gameplay only gets better. Black/White marks the first time video game manager and director, Juunichi Masuda and Takao Unno, created a sequel. And with so much drama in the UNV (Unova region, Snoop dogg voice), it was bound to happen. Real talk, they should get some kind of Nobel Peace Prize for the simple fact that there are now over 650 pokemon. Gotta catch ’em all, bro. (scratches neck like fiend) –Dave


26. Adrian Chen (Journalist)

Adrian Chen is stirring shit up on these internets. Last summer, the writer for Gawker exposed the dealings going on over at Silk Road (a digital black market) and this year, he was the one to reveal the identity of Reddit’s most notorious troll, Violentacrez. The Reddit community responded by banning Gawker links. This wasn’t the first time, internet groups have tried to ‘punish’ Chen. About a month before that, ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous claimed to have access to 12 million Apple device IDs. They demanded Chen post a picture of himself on Gawker, wearing a tutu and a shoe on his head, before they granted interviews. He obliged. Whether you consider him a snitch or a journalist, you got to respect the man’s fearlessness. –Dave