LumiScope: Alan Z

Asian artists are surely taking the world by storm. Most recently, South Korean boy group BTS made a breakthrough to mainstream listeners above the massive fanbase they already held in a less known scene. While the world of KPOP is considered highkey to those already part of this domain, American audiences are still unaware of the impact Asians and Asian Americans are having on the music industry.

Among the US streets of Atlanta, Georgia, another artist has garnered his own fanbase with fans traveling to see his shows, purchase his albums, and support him in any way they can. I first came across Alan Z when he attended a smaller function in Virginia. He held a strong presence without as many words needed compared to others, and it was more than obvious that he was an artist, ready to stand out and stand up for the Asian American music scene with his original productions and hardworking image.

Alan recently released a new music video for his song “Touch and Go” – a trendy, modern tune that he produced and a video he co-directed. We were lucky to be able to catch an interview with him!

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Has your original image/vision for your music changed since you started?

Alan Z: My vision for striving to be a household name and pop sensation never changed, but my image definitely changed throughout the times. When I was younger, I had different management teams, and they pushed me towards either the “grown and sexy” suited-up look, or the preppy, teenage Justin Bieber look. I hated both of those looks for me. Then I started wearing hats and baggy pants, but unfortunately, the classic hip-hop style was out. Fast-forward to now, I got my signature wavy hair and fitted jeans. I miss the old hip-hop fashion, but unfortunately, it’s a new world we live in.

You co-directed the music video for Touch And Go; did you ever imagine you’d be covering all areas of production when you first started making music?

Alan Z: I knew I was going to be hands-on with everything, which I believe is the result of being a perfectionist. Well, that and also because I learned that you can’t depend on people for anything. The video concept for “Touch And Go” has been like three years in the making. My best friend Taaj and I first brainstormed about it in 2014 when I first recorded the song, and I finally decided to finish writing the video treatment and putting together the cast and crew this past summer. It features three love interests and our storylines are intertwined within the main narrative. Whoever is reading this that hasn’t seen “Touch And Go” yet, watch it now on YouTube so you can say that you saw it before I become too mainstream and bandwagon fans discover me way later.

Of your songs, I imagine there are some selections that you hold near and dear to you. At the moment, are there any of your songs that are more relevant than others to your life?

Alan Z: I have a song called “Discriminated” on my new EP “First Time’s The Charm”, where I open up about the discrimination I faced throughout my childhood and how it followed me into my music career, which has been an uphill battle due to racism. But in the song, I’m not just complaining; I’m fighting back against anyone that has got a problem with me. I interpolated the Eminem line “have you ever been hated or discriminated against” in the song for obvious reasons. There’s also my EP intro track “No Handouts”, which was my F-U to everyone in a higher-up position or had the funds to help me but flaked on doing anything for me. So the idea is that I will make it with or without them. No favors, no helping hand, no handouts.

When you first started making music, what did you think it was going to be like for you? Did you imagine it would be like how it is for you now?

Alan Z: When I started rapping at 12 years old, I thought all I had to do was be good and I’d get signed, and then I wouldn’t have to finish high school. I was wrong obviously. I grew up to learn this business was 90% business, 10% music. Especially nowadays talent is not enough without popularity, so I work effortlessly to build my buzz and keep my momentum going. Alan Z is going to be a household name regardless.

The term “selling out” often comes to mind as the popularity of underground artists hit mainstream media. What do you think of artists who do sell out, and do you think selling out is inevitable or it can be prevented?

Alan Z: I think selling out is subjective. For example, me making pop music isn’t selling out in my case because I have an ear for making catchy songs and I have the Midas touch with any record I’m on, meaning I can put a fire hook on a beat and turn it into a potential radio smash. My definition of selling out is doing something that you personally don’t agree with, for the sake of fame or money. I’m down with making power moves, getting endorsement deals, acting in film and commercials, and making radio songs; all of which may be considered “selling out” to some people. However, what I will NOT do is portray Asians in a negative light or drop one of my talents to be more easily pigeonholed, whether it be singing or rapping. I don’t need to sell out now for me to pack stadiums soon and sell out crowds (bars).  

Was there ever a time during your career that you considered giving up?

Alan Z: Oh of course. That thought has come to my mind, but no matter how close I come to saying “f— it”, I bounce back and go harder. I’m well-aware that many artists that could be lending a helping hand see me as a threat and just watch me from a distance, and my patience has been wearing thinner by the day by false promises and industry snakes. But my love for music, my never-ending lust for success, and passion for impacting others keep me going. No matter how crazy it may sound to some now, I’m say it here: Alan Z will be a global phenomenon.

Passion in music surpasses any other kind of determination when you start off raw, and Alan Z is a prime example of what hard work can do. Beating the odds and showing his audience that he is capable of doing what he sets out to do, he is definitely one to keep on your radar.

Support Alan Z by following him on social media and by watching his new MV for “Touch and Go”!

Follow L.A. on Instagram: http://instagram.com/ai.lumi
Is there another Asian American artist you think LumiScript should look into? Let us know by emailing LumiScriptOfficial@gmail.com!
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Tu-esday OOTD: Japangeles

(L.A.) recently made a trip to Los Angeles for KCON 2017, and judging from all her stories and pictures she shared with me, it seemed like she had a ton of fun! Seeing her enjoy herself that much made me want to visit LA again. Hopefully for next year, I can go with her and meet all these cool people she talked about!

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On my own past trip to Los Angeles back in March, I really wanted to buy a jacket from Japangeles, a small business found in Little Tokyo. It was a windbreaker that was being sold at a small booth near the entrance. I told myself to wait until the last day to see if I really wanted it since it was $55. Not too expensive, but hey, I don’t want to regret purchasing anything. I’ve had my fair share of impulse purchases and later regretted them all.

On my last day in LA, I still wanted to buy it so I told myself to go back to Little Tokyo just to get it. I stayed at an AirbnB less than a block away so I didn’t have to travel too far. Unfortunately, the booth was closed by the time I went back, so I left LA empty-handed. I was pretty sad. I even checked their website but that was under construction. Luckily, L.A. was able to buy it for me when she was there! Bless friends that buy you things from across the country. Thanks, birb. ❤

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Here’s a picture of the windbreaker by Japangeles! I got this in the cameo design but there’s also a maroon one and black one! The orange font on the front and back of the jacket gives it a nice pop of color. I’ve been looking for a jacket like this for a very long time and I’m so glad I was finally able to get my hands on this. The design of the jacket gives off a street vibe, which fits my style completely. When I think of street styled clothing, I think of big, loose fitting clothes that make you feel and look cool! Every time I wear this jacket, I feel like a total bada** and I don’t know…I just feel like my cool levels went from a 2 to a solid 9. (The last few sentences just sounded super lame…I’m sorry. I don’t even know if I’ll include this.)

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The material of this jacket is very nice and definitely worth its price. The stitching around the fabric is very small, meaning that it’ll last a long time and won’t break anytime soon.

Here’s a pro-tip in purchasing clothes: if the stitches are big, do not buy it!

Small, multiple stitches are stronger and will have your clothes last longer. The fabric itself is very smooth and soft, so it’s comfortable to wear. It’s thin, but it will keep you warm when it gets chilly. When you touch the inside of the jacket, you can actually feel that there’s a soft layer inside that provides insulation. It’s the perfect time to whip out a jacket like this since autumn is slowly rolling in. If it gets too cold, there are buttons that you can use to bundle up. Compared to other similar jackets I own, this one has the nicest quality. I have a jacket from YesStyle that’s the same style but is very low in quality. The YesStyle jacket is just the outer layer of the Japangeles jacket. It doesn’t keep you warm at all and it feels like I’m wearing a plastic bag. Well, I guess that’s what $10 gives you, doesn’t it?

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I got this in a size small, but it’s quite big on me as you can tell. It’s the perfect item to layer with for cold days. I can see myself wearing a hoodie or a big sweater underneath this! For warmer days, I can see myself rocking a plain white tee with this jacket. Since this jacket is so loud on its own, I recommend wearing something simple underneath.

Overall, I am completely in love with this jacket! If I could, I would buy the maroon version just because the rest of my wardrobe is pretty monotone. I’m starting to use jackets as an accessory piece, and these windbreakers are right up my alley. I’d also check out the other merchandise Japangeles has to offer since the quality of this jacket is so nice. I’m sure that their sweaters and t-shirts are also high quality. I’ll definitely be purchasing more clothes from them once they have their website up and running! Japangeles staff, please open up your website soon so east coast dwellers like me can buy your clothing line!

For those residing in the LA area, please check them out and support them! They recently opened up a store in Little Tokyo, and I’m so happy that they’ve upgraded from the small little booth they once had when I last visited. I hope that this small, independent business expands in the new few years and I can’t wait to see them grow.

Keep hustling, Japangeles!

Tu-esday Food Adventures: Maryland

Last week, I hung out with two of my close classmates from college. One of them is off to go to veterinary school, so we decided to have one last get together before she left. We decided to meet up at Montgomery Mall, located in Bethesda, Maryland. It was the perfect middle point between all three of us since I live in Northern Virginia (NoVA) and they live around Gaithersburg. According to them, Montgomery Mall is going to be the only mall left in Maryland – at least near where they live. Any other mall nearby is either a dead-zone or about to shut down completely.

It was a bit of a struggle for me to find where the food court was there since I’ve only been there once in my life. That mall is huge, too. Maybe not as big as Tyson’s Corner, but it’s still fairly large. My friends ended up coming to look for me because I was that lost….oops.

Anyway, we decided to grab a quick lunch at the food court. I wish I had a picture to show you guys how it looked. The food court was very modernized and contemporary – a lot nicer than the food court at Tyson’s. We all ordered waffles from a placed called “Wicked Waffle.” Not only did they sell your regular breakfast waffles, they also had interesting combos like Peking duck waffles and tiramisu waffles. I heard of this place before since they have a location in D.C., which received a lot of praise.

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My friends ordered the egg whites and grilled veggies, sweet potato fries, and the fried chicken and waffles. I got the mango and brie waffle. The waffles were pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside but airy and soft on the inside. I’m not a big fan of those super dense waffles, so this was perfect for me. The taste of them wasn’t overly sweet or salty, either. The egg whites and grilled veggie waffle wasn’t anything to really rave about, though. This plate came out like a sandwich. The amount of egg whites inside the sandwich probably filled up around half of the inside. There were probably only seven slivers of grilled bell peppers. Although the eggs whites and vegetables were flavored nicely, I wish that there was more! It was each of our first meal of the day, so we all wanted something to fill us up.

The chicken and waffles was pretty good. The fried chicken was a little spicy, so it had a nice kick to it. The meat wasn’t dry either. It was moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. They dusted powdered sugar over the plate so the chicken had a nice sweetness factor to it. Only thing I’d change about this is the saltiness. The chicken was flavorful, but it was way too salty! I noticed myself grabbing my water to drink every time I took a bite out of it.

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Next is the dish that I ordered: the mango and brie waffle. I’ve always been a fan of brie. It probably is one of my top five cheeses of all time. I just love how smooth and soft it is. The taste isn’t that overpowering either so it pairs well with fruits like strawberries and mangoes. This was the first item on the menu that caught my eye so I had to order it. You can never go wrong with a fruit and cheese combo. The mango was sweet and had a little bite to it which went well with the soft and savory brie. On top of that, there were a few slices of jalapenos which gave the entire dish a bit of a kick. I really enjoyed my dish just because it had both my favorite cheese AND fruit.

Last, but not least, are the sweet potato fries. For those who know me, I love fries. Sometimes I end up staying up late at night because I’m craving fries.

Yes, my love for fries is that bad.

My favorite type of fries is the thinly cut ones so it’s super crunch on the outside. These sweet potato fries really hit the spot for me. The fries were julienned, which means that they were cut into long, thin strips. Once they hit the oil, these fries crisp up beautifully, leaving the inside moist and tender.

YUM!!!

I personally really liked eating these fries by themselves. The cashier told us that a customer really enjoyed eating the fries with whipped cream, so he gave us a cup of it. I was a bit confused at first, but I gave it a try. Honestly, it wasn’t anything that special. Just whipped cream with potatoes. I usually like my fries with ketchup and mustard, so I wasn’t impressed. If I were to try it again, I would have to crave it or would want to consume all the deep fried, oily goodness that day.

Am I the only one who occasionally feels like eating my weight in food?

After lunch, we decided to stop by a new dessert store that sold cookie dough. My friends and I were excited to try this place since there’s been a lot of talk about a store in New York that sells this. The people in that video made it seem as if it was the best thing in the world, so we had high expectations.

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Shout out to my friend’s overgrown manicure!!!

Anyway, we ordered the Oreo cookie dough at “Cookie Dough & Co,” which came with a shot of milk.

It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever had.

I actually thought I shoved a spoonful of sugar into my mouth. It was soooooo sweet. Disgustingly sweet. The three of us could not finish such a tiny cone because we all thought that we were going to get diabetes after eating it. Seriously.

I don’t even know why anyone would crave cookie dough in the first place. I checked their website and so many people raved about it, and I’m not really sure what the hype was about. I would never come back here. I got my Instagram pic so I have no reason to come back haha.

Our last stop was a new boba joint called “Lab Café,” located in Rockville Towne Center.

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From left to right: taro milk tea, plum sparkling tea, and unique milk tea.

Taste: Eh. It tasted like Kung Fu Tea, which I’m not a very big fan of. The taro milk tea tasted like it was made from powder. The unique milk tea didn’t taste unique at all. All I tasted was the powdered creamer. It wasn’t even well-shaken so I felt the grittiness of the powder. The plum sparkling tea was probably the best even though it wasn’t that special either. It was literally the Chinese plum drink with soda. I could’ve made it at home.

Presentation: I’d give more points to their presentation than their taste just because I liked the mustache on the straws. Their logo is pretty cute too.

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I’d probably come back here just to hang out. Their drinks aren’t the best, but they’re not bad either. I would try something else since they have a lot on their menu. The overall design of the store is nice too. It has a cozy feel to it and I can see myself studying here or socializing with friends. There’s also nice wall art, as shown above, which is perfect for your daily Snapchat and Instagram.

Well, that concludes my second food review. Overall, everything I consumed was ok. I’m sure that over time each food place will improve, since they’re all fairly new. I hope that other people have better experiences in the future!

To end this post on a good note, here’s a picture of me with my friends. Our facial expressions really show each of our personalities. Bubbly, weird, and sassy. 😊

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Tu-esday Foodspot: Bún bò Huế

First restaurant review!!! Yay!

The other day, my dad and I decided to have some quality time together and grab dinner. We went to Eden Center, which is a shopping center centered around the Vietnamese community in the DMV area. Here, you can find a plethora of small businesses ranging from family-run restaurants to jewelry stores. As a Vietnamese-American, this place has a special place in my heart. I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember. I remember coming here to buy myself cute stationary at the toy store then stop buy a bakery to get an avocado smoothie. I pretty much grew up here.

Nowadays, Eden Center is a hotspot for a quality Vietnamese meal. Today, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite meals: Bún bò Huế (BBH).

To break it down, the first word, “bún,” means “rice noodle.” “” means “beef.” Finally, Huế is the former capital of Vietnam. The broth is prepared by boiling together beef bones, lemongrass, and fermented shrimp sauce, or “mắm ruốc.” Together, these flavors marry together to create a perfect balance of savory, sweet, sour, and spicy. A bowl of BBH is usually topped with big chunks of beef shank, pork knuckles, pork blood, and chả (pork sausage slice). I personally really like eating the pork knuckles because of how gelatinous the joints are. And, if cooked right, the skin is the perfect texture where it snaps in your mouth when you bite it.

SO GOOD….!!!

Anyway, I never really had amazing BBH other than when it’s homemade. Some places make the lemongrass flavor too strong, other places the broth is too sweet. Then, there are the restaurants that overcook the meat. I almost gave up trying to find a restaurant with good BBH until my sister’s boyfriend recommended me this restaurant called Kien Giang Quan. I’m not sure what that translates to in English, but all I know is that they serve AMAZING food. I mean…LOOK AT THIS:

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My sister’s boyfriend recommended me to try this place because they’re known for their BBH. I asked my dad about it, and he said that the restaurant is pretty popular amongst the Vietnamese community despite how small it is. There were probably about eight tables that could seat two to four people each.

My dad and I arrived at the restaurant around 6:50 PM, so we expected it to be busy. About four of the tables were taken, so it was quite busy for them. The waiter was very friendly to us, maybe because he knew my dad, and served us tea. He quickly took our orders and went to the kitchen to place them. My dad and I were talking for no more than 5 minutes and our food, including the vegetable condiments, was already out. Service was A+ here.

Before I dive into this, let me just show you how my BBH looked like when it came out:

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DOES THAT NOT LOOK DELICIOUS TO YOU?

I added some bean sprouts, sliced banana blossom, and a squeeze of lime just because I like getting mouthfuls of vegetables. This bowl of BBH just screams flavor. When I tried the broth, it had the perfect balance of salty, sweet, and spicy. Every spoonful of soup I tasted made me want more. You can really tell how much love and labor the chef put into making this broth. I don’t usually finish the entire bowl, but this time, I slurped up every last drop.

Let’s talk about the contents in the bowl.

First off, the meat. They had medium rare beef slices in here as well as beef shank, both incredibly tender and flavorful. There was also the pork knuckle, which was at the bottom of my bowl. Unfortunately, it was only a fraction of the knuckle, but it was still delicious. It had the perfect gelatinous texture that I love so much and the skin wasn’t chewy at all and had a nice bite to it. I only wish I had more!

I’m a huge fan of noodles. If I were to choose between noodles and rice, I’d choose noodles in a heartbeat. There’s something about slurping noodles that is so satisfying. Anyone else think this way?

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If this picture of noodles doesn’t look appetizing to you, I don’t know what does. These noodles are my favorite kind of noodle. It’s not too thin like pho noodles, but not as thick and heavy as egg noodles. They were perfectly cooked and had the right amount of softness. I believe that Asian noodles should be cooked a little bit past al dente. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t seem right to cook it when it’s still hard in the center. I think it defeats the purpose of how easy it is to eat noodles.

After eating this, you feel full, but not disgustingly stuffed. My mom always told me that Vietnamese cuisine should never make you feel that way. You should leave the restaurant feeling content. Fun fact: did you know that Vietnamese food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world? With every dish, there is a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Like any other food, you should appreciate what’s in front of you rather than focus on making yourself full. Both my dad and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I wasn’t even able to try his because he ate it all! I would definitely recommend anyone who wants to try real BBH.

Don’t go anywhere else in Eden Center – come here to try it.

You definitely won’t be disappointed.

LumiLens: Andi Mack

Let me start off by saying I am entirely part of the anti Neo-Disney movement. I’m part of the early 90s generation that grew up with Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and Phil of the Future. That was the time of my life when overly complicated jokes like the ones that grace the script of Archer didn’t really matter, and all I needed was some classic humor and sassy female leads to get my day going. That was the era of Disney that helped shape my personality (I wonder where all the wit came from?). So, again, I am 100% anti Neo-Disney.

But… I freaking adore Andi Mack.

First things first, look at how adorable Peyton Elizabeth Lee is. Her pixie cut was something I didn’t have the guts to achieve until I was a junior in high school, and here she is, just turning 13 (in the show), and she’s rocking it. IT’S THOSE CHEEKS! The cheeks, the teeth, oh goodness, I’m fangirling over her as we speak! Alongside all of those things that she was born with, towards the end of the pilot episode, she sports an aqua blue oriental style embroidered bomber jacket. If I could have a little sibling in another life, I hope it’s her. If only I had that sense of style when I was hitting puberty…

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to Andi Mack had I not seen an article come across my Facebook newsfeed about the amazing plot twist at the end of the show’s pilot. Honestly, I assumed it had something to do with the LGBT movement since the new Beauty and the Beast live action movie announced that two gay characters would be part of the storyline, and the community has been raving about the representation in recent media. This was not the case for Andi Mack.

SPOILER ALERT:

Teen pregnancy as a show hasn’t been a thing since the Secret Life of the American Teenager (of which I only saw the first episode and proceeded to mindlessly skim until I got the gist of everything that happened). It’s revealed in the later half of the pilot that Andi’s badass big sister Bex is actually not her sister – she’s her mom.

Lilan Bowden is gorgeous, and she fits the role of a big sister well. This show actually makes you think from the child’s point of view instead of the mother’s like in the Secret Life. Since Andi is already at that age when she’s starting to declare her independence, you can see it more from how she’s trying to approach the situation instead of her sister’s thoughts. Now, I think Bex’s story could start an entirely other show, but I’m guessing her backstory is going to be revealed as the season goes on.

Congratulations, Disney! I can see the direction you’re heading to. Starting with Girl Meets World, Disney Channel is reaching back to their crowd from the 1990s by approaching them through their children with real life situations. I guess you could consider that a fusion between a kids show and adult life resulting in a valuable life lesson? Teen pregnancy definitely isn’t something you’d want your five year old finding fun, but many parents these days are in their early 20s. These are the parents who grew up with Lizzie as well, and Lizzie’s creator Terri Minsky came back with a huge slap to the Millenial’s warped vision of entertainment with Andi Mack.

Remember the days when even Mom and Dad loved Disney Channel and enjoyed it with you? Maybe it’s time for those days to make a comeback.

Best of luck to the cast of Andi Mack! Looking forward to supporting you through your careers.

You can watch the first episode of Andi Mack here!

Follow Peyton Elizabeth Lee on Instagram!

Follow Lilan Bowden on Instagram!

Make sure to follow LumiScript for more reviews!

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