A DJ’s mission to tell Asian American stories, track by track

“I was trying to figure out who’s who and where do they exist? [It starts with] who you know, who people know, but after that, I had to turn to the internet. It was a search.” Richie used Google tools, starting with Search, to find and compile artists. While it was easier to find current musicians, it was challenging to find Asian American artists from the past. He dove deep into archives of forums, blogs, social media, websites and YouTube to find artists and their stories. 

Through Google Search, Richie and his TRAKTIVIST.com team have discovered over 1,500 Asian American artists across numerous decades and genres, and continue to use Google tools to search for the undiscovered. 

Richie is committed to surfacing overlooked or forgotten stories. He recently published “Grammy Firsts,” a collection celebrating Asian American firsts of the awards show. And with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month approaching, we asked Richie to create a playlist celebrating the diversity of Asian American stories and artists — which he graciously did. 

Talking to Richie, I find myself coming back to a word that we center the Filipino Googler Network, an employee resource group, around: kapamilya, or belonging. Through music, I hope we can find kapamilya, be able to see one another, find ourselves and have our stories be heard. 

With the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment and violence in America, Richie has found the music he’s discovering to be a source of healing. “When we think about our communities and what we go through…” Richie says, “…whether through film, TV poetry, music, any art form, all of it matters. My job is to make sure these stories get broadcast and receive as much attention as possible.”