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What is SuperB’s True Identity? | Projekt NewSpeak
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Posted: 2010-11-23
Categories: Projekt NewSpeak

The Mexi-Asian Persepctive: A Mexican’s Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both by David A. Romero

When I was a child, I spent much of my time imagining I was a superhero battling the forces of evil. Who wouldn’t want to run around in their underwear and use their superpowers to fight for what is right and just?

A resident of the Inland Empire in California, Brian Oliva seems mild-mannered enough when you meet him; unassuming with a soft voice and disarming smile, but with a microphone in place of a phone booth, he transforms into SuperB, a performer who mixes the confident swagger of Hip Hop with the wonder and innocence of childhood.

Brian “SuperB” Oliva is a two-time Inland Empire Grand Slam Champion. He has competed on a national level with Inland Empire team in 2009 and 2010. He was the co-host of Urbane Culture open mic for three years.

Recently, SuperB unleashed a new poem on audiences, one that explored a different side of the friendly neighborhood poet’s personality. I met with Oliva in Downtown Pomona for the inside scoop. Click here to watch SuperB perform Identity.

In “Identity” you deal with the issue of racism. What inspired you to take on this difficult issue and reflect upon your own experiences?

What inspired me to write that piece was actually Judah 1 and slam poetry.  A lot of my poetry is really lighthearted and comical at times. Judah was telling me to start thinking outside of the box especially for the slam. He told me he had faith in my writing ability, but said my poems wouldn’t fly at Nationals because of the light content. So that inspired me to be vulnerable and share a part of my life that not a lot people knew; such as my struggle of identity and finding myself (which everyone has to face one way or the other).

In “Identity” you boldly present your Latin and Asian cultural influences and challenge the audience, “Now tell me about your identity crisis growing up!” Why do you think Spoken Word has become such an important platform for artists to deal with the question of identity?

Spoken word is the perfect platform for sharing about identity. Everyone can relate, everyone can appreciate an artist who is being vulnerable, and everyone (or most) is there to listen to the words rather than music or visual arts.

“From an island in Asia, but told that I was not Asian.” This line reminds me of one of Carlos Mencia’s standup comedy routines in which he addresses racism within the Asian community itself.  Is this what you were addressing in that line, or were you commenting upon racist attitudes in other segments of society in regard to the ethnic status of Filipinos and other Pacific Islanders?

When I wrote that, I was speaking to most Filipinos growing up in American suburbia in the 80’s and 90’s when saying you were Filipino was like saying you were from, let’s say, “Asstrack.” “Oh, where’s “Asstrack” you ask?”Exactly. Nobody in my neighborhood knew about the Philippines or Filipinos so people would say things like, “The Philippines is in Asia,” then tell me I wasn’t considered “Asian.”

Audience reactions have varied wildly to this poem. Some audiences laugh while other audiences go on a journey with you filled with sadness and even righteous indignation. Why do you think audiences react so differently to the same material? How did you intend for the poem to be received? Is it a positive or negative that some audiences find so much humor within it?

I’m a firm believer in the power of art, and the message that all art sends. I feel a very spiritual connection when I write, so whatever God wanted to be understood when I spit it could be different than how I wanted it to be received. When people laugh because they think it’s funny, it’s probably because they related. It’s definitely not a funny poem, but it has its moments.

Could you please give us some examples of what you call your, “West LA-island-ching chang -Spanish slang?”

[Laughs] Well, Culver City is majority Hispanic, my neighborhood predominantly Black. You end up picking up slang and language used in the area. So, when I moved to Montclair, people were asking me where I was from because they could tell the slang was different; that West LA-island- ching chang -Spanish slang. [Laughs]

Asian Latin fusion food has become a veritable phenomenon. Do you think that Asian Latin fusion food is just a passing trend, or the future?

If you eat Filipino food or know about Filipino food, that’s exactly what a lot of it is: Spanish infused Asian dishes.  Delicious! So it’s the past and the future… Filipinos are the future. [Laughs]

Who is your favorite Latin celebrity, historical figure, or fictional character?

George Lopez is a funny dude. Let’s give it to him.

Would you rather date an Asian or someone of Latin descent?

Sorry lil’ Asian women, this one goes to the Latin women.

Any last words or shout outs?

Shout outs to my savior Jesus Christ for life and guidance, to my heart Alexandra, to my support team 9805’ers; my fam. Shout out to the Urban Poets Crew, especially Proto, my mentor and bro. Shout outs to  Urbane Culture and, last but not least, David A. Romero for considering me for this interview. God bless. Peace.


Brian Oliva


Currently booking features

 David A. Romero is a cheese enchilada-making spoken word artist who knows something about Mexicans. A lover of boba and a citizen of Diamond Bar, CA, he also knows a thing or two about Asians. http://www.davidaromero.com/
Have any ideas for the blog? Questions? Comments? Hit me up below! Or email me: davidaromero@projektnewspeak.org

One Response:
  1. richie "tubbs" hernandez says:

    I love turons. No homo. Your boy for life.PCA