Star2 opens our meeting with a simple exclamation of who he is , in his own words “Many Asian American artists in the United States grew up as minorities struggling to find a place in Western music. Those who succeeded did so without their Asian heritage discovered: Tyga, Bruno Mars, H.E.R. and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls. At the same time, Asian KPOP bands like BTS and BLACKPINK grabbed huge white fan bases as did Japanese Anime and Manga - leaving Asians in the United States confused as record companies passed on their talent deeming them “unpromotable” to a mass audience.” Star2 tell us.
Tik Tok and social media allowed access and hits from 88rising, Keshi, and Far East Movement and we had stars like Olivia Rodrigo, of Filipino descent, giving exposure to a mainstream audience.
Star2 is a hip hop artist based in San Diego, California. He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. He is Karen, a ethnic group in Myanmar engaged in what is defined as the longest civil war in history. The country, which was colonized by the British , had two opposing forces during World War II – the invading and occupying Japanese, and the British. After World War II ended the British (supported during the war by the Karen, the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups) removed their troops from the country; Star2’s family fled on foot to the border “when their village was attacked by Burmese soldiers and burned” he tells us.
At age five, “my grandmother won a lottery in the 55,000 person Mae La camp to the U.S. Star2 and four of his grandmother’s young children flew to California.” City Heights in San Diego was a hub for Vietnamese refugees from nearby Marine Corps Camp Pendleton during the 1970s. Other refugee groups followed.
“Drugs, crime, poverty and gang life pervade the area. My uncle (his grandmother’s oldest son) became addicted to drugs, involved with gangs and went in and out of prison. He taught me to read, and they also played guitar and sang.” His influence as well as the rich musical fabric of Ka-ren festivals and religious ceremonies planted a musical seed in Star2. A neighborhood friend in his apartment complex with a small home studio also provided the backdrop for the beginnings of rap songs and music videos filmed at neighboring Colina Park – half in English and half in Ka-ren.
A mentor at a refugee tutoring center introduced Star2 to superstar record producer Chico Bennett in Los Angeles “who has worked wdith Lady Gaga, Usher, Madonna, the Killers, Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, Vassy, and many more.”
Chico recognized Star2’s remarkable talent, drive, and passion. “One song session grew into a three-year relationship with three EPs, twelve music videos, a viral YouTube music video “Thinkin Bout You” with over 1M views, 4M+ views on two other videos on WorldStar Hip Hop. Our collaborations have expanded to include Soulja Boy, $tupid Young, Lil Poppa, Luh Kel, Mozzy and many more.”
Star2’s blockbuster hit “New Me” with Soulja Boy and Luh Kel drops this September. “Up” with Mozzy, $tupid Young, and HoodTrophy Bino will be released early this fall. A west-coast tour with R&B star Luh Kel wrapped up in August, and an east coast tour is planned for the fall.