By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Bounthavy Sayasane was born in Laos, but moved to the United States when he was a baby. Friends and fans know him better as Sinoy Brown or Sinoy Blaze, the rapper. But family members call him ‘Noy.’
Brown and his business partner, G-Dub, started the West Coast North record label company about seven years ago. They currently have four artists, and they are in the process of signing a few more. The company is independently owned by Brown with the financial assistance from friends and family.
“We’re trying to give local opportunities to younger kids who want to be a singer, rapper, or model,” Brown said.
He added that the most aspiring musical artists have to move to Los Angeles to reach their stardom.
However, he figured that he could provide a resource for the younger generation here locally.
Like a typical teenager, he also played sports and enjoyed hanging out with friends, but he had a passion for writing.
He realized later that he had been introduced to music by his father, who used to play music at community events in Lacey. Brown wrote his first song in the sixth grade. That was when he wrote about everyday things, and started getting interested in poetry.
He said that he even submitted his poems to poetry contests. He would receive letters saying that his poems were more like songs. Soon after, he was inspired to write songs.
Brown started rapping at the age of 13 and is motivated when people are able to relate to the music they listen to.
“I feel like I have that gift, I can put emotions into words or feelings into songs. Music is what feelings sound like,” he said.
Brown respects artists who give back to the community through their music careers. He listed Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Dr. Dre, and Run DMC as a few of the rappers that he admires.
“They don’t just make music, they actually expand and do other things to bring it back to the community,” he said.
That is exactly what he hopes to do one day with his career. He wants to build a foundation for a company that provides jobs to friends and family.
Brown stated that he would love to collaborate with Sir Mix-A-Lot, who he described as the one guy who made it to the mainstream from Seattle.
This year has already been very busy for Brown and West Coast North. They just finished touring a few cities in Washington and California, which was a great experience.
Brown is looking forward to more performances in Boise, Denver, and Las Vegas, starting in March for the Massive Damage 2012 tour with X-Kid, another rapper.
X-Kid is Brown’s business partner and was the one that made West Coast North happen. X-Kid’s record label, Immaculate Flame, helped to make a name for Brown and his associates in the industry.
“Without Immaculate Flame, we wouldn’t have been able to do the tour with them,” Brown explained.
Naturally, being an Asian American in the rap industry is mostly unheard of and does not come without challenges. But Brown has stayed optimistic, despite admitting that Asians don’t get taken seriously when it comes to rap.
“People don’t see the ghetto side of being Asian and wonder what Asians could possibly rap about,” he said.
Some of the other challenges that Brown listed include finding the right people to collaborate with, so that there is a non-competitive atmosphere.
“Our motto is, ‘there is no one man above the crew,’ so everybody is their own boss,” Brown said.
“I want to be that first Asian American to rap about the truth,” he said.
He wants people to understand the struggles that he’s been through and hopefully people can relate to his experiences, even if they’re not Asian.
Unlike traditional Asian parents, Brown’s family has been very supportive about his career.
“Love from fans, family, and friends is the treasure of the business,” Brown said.
Another West Coast North member, Thurrey Phandanouvong, aspires to be an R&B singer and is currently featured in a few of Brown’s songs, including “Strange Clouds.”
In the tough industry, Phandanouvong knows that even though they have big dreams and goals, they have to crawl before they walk, figuratively.
But the future looks bright for West Coast North. Brown’s album is scheduled to be released this summer. The company is also working on a documentary about the music culture of the Pacific Northwest. They plan to interview different bands from various genres, including grunge, rock, and hip hop, to show how difficult it is to succeed in the industry. Overall, their goal is to try and make noise, so that the bigger companies will notice them.
West Coast North also represents rapper Yak Nasty and half Japanese R&B singer King James.
Catch West Coast North’s next gig at the Royal Lounge in downtown Olympia (311 N. Capitol Way). (end)
For more information, please visit www.westcoastnorth.com.
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.