MastaMic knows the flow
Birth name: Tong Sung-ching
Born: Hong Kong
Chinese zodiac: Tiger
Mix tapes: The New Hope Mixtape (2011), Justice Is What I Rap For (2012)
At the beginning ... I didn't listen to hip hop. I didn't even know what it was. People at my [primary] school listened to some band music from America and Europe. They listened to Suede, and I listened to that too, but I didn't really feel them. But after I listened to LMF and Eminem, I thought, 'Yeah, that's me'. I didn't even know it was hip hop or called rap, but I just knew that was something that belongs to me.
The youth in Hong Kong ... don't do any DIY: they like hip hop but they think, 'Come on, I can't do it. I'm not MC Yan. I'm not Eminem'. I felt the same, so I never tried [rapping].
I started rapping ... after I went to Beijing for school. One day, one of my friends gave me an MP3 - it was a rap demo. I listened to it. I can't remember how the song sounded, but I thought, 'If he can do it, I can do it'. He was just my friend and never studied music. So that's how I started to get into music. That's when I started to think about how to rhyme.
When you listen to Korean or Japanese hip hop ... the music, the beat - you don't even need to listen to the lyrics - you know it's definitely not from America. That's from Korea or Japan. That's what I call style, or having their own style.
One of the most important things with rapping is ... learning how to flow; how you rhyme on the beat, and how you flow on the beat. I don't understand what some French rappers are saying, but it sounds good. If you want flow, you need to listen to more than just hip hop. You need to listen to jazz, soul, funk, to keep studying and get the groove.
One of the most important things about freestyling is ... imagination. Don't think about rhyme first. The rhyming [part] is actually not that difficult for me. It's about how you think about [for example] an iPhone and a glass of water. You need to think how you can connect two things. You start by thinking like this so you can talk about them - connect them - and you need to make sense, of course. Then you make it rhyme.
Justice Is What I Rap For ... wasn't really planned. I was working with Headliner, a TV programme for RTHK, where I rapped about the government, society, everything. It was 10 episodes. After that, I thought, what should I do? I was thinking about what I should rap for. It turned out that justice is what I rap for. I'm trying to do the right thing, to rap for the right things. So I took it as a concept for the whole mixtape. I wanted to talk about everything that I think was big in the past year. There's nothing about myself [here]. It's about society.
Justice Is What I Rap For is available for free. Go to www.mastamic. com.hk for details
MastaMic's fave five rappers (in no particular order)
Big Daddy Kane