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Politics & Policy

Rapper says he’s sorry for music video slamming San Francisco mayor

A composite image of Mayor London Breed, right, and San Francisco restaurant owner and rapper Chino Yang, right.
In the video for his song "San Francisco Our Home," Chino Yang, right, raps outside his restaurant Kung Food in San Francisco and criticizes local government officials, including Mayor London Breed. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard & Courtesy Chino Yang

A rapper and restaurateur has released an apology on social media barely a week after releasing a diss track that sparked controversy for its criticism of San Francisco’s mayor.

Chino Yang, 35, a Chinese American rapper who grew up in San Francisco and is the owner of Kung Food near the city’s Alamo Square, slammed Mayor London Breed in his song “San Francisco Our Home.” He blamed Breed and the rest of the city’s leadership for a spate of anti-Asian crimes and a crisis of public safety after his businesses were burglarized multiple times.

The video for "San Francisco Our Home" includes pointed lyrics aimed at the city's political establishment.

“Now throw your two middle fingers up to the mayor,” the track goes. “London Breed, you ain’t nothing but a clown. / When we really needed you, you ain’t never been around.” 

Elsewhere in the lyrics, Yang also touches on “crooked politicians” and “phony-ass liberals.” He is known for his appearance on the popular talent show The Rap of China (中国新说唱) and has about 320,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese social media app.

After a number of defiant messages in recent days, Yang struck a markedly different tone in an Instagram video posted Tuesday.

“I would like to openly and publicly make an apology regarding all of my actions and what I say in the video,” Yang said in the video. “I'm sorry for my ignorance. I'm sorry for my foolishness and impulsiveness.”

The apology came as Breed’s supporters, including former Mayor Willie Brown and Rev. Amos Brown, president of the NAACP’s San Francisco chapter, are organizing a rally on Thursday to urge him to take down the video.

At the same time, Yang appeared to double down on the song’s message, emphasizing that he’s still standing firm in his beliefs and opinions and citing freedom of expression as a constitutional right.

“Do you think the politicians, the elected officials, should be held accountable for the decay and failing of the city?” Yang asked in Tuesday’s video.

Notably, Yang also said that he had received threats from a powerful—unnamed—figure in local and national politics who is close to Breed.

In a phone interview, Yang declined to discuss details about who had contacted him, saying that he’s recovering from a recent heart attack and is incapable physically and mentally of handling the political fallout. He’s making an apology for the sake of his family and businesses, he said.

Amos Brown told The Standard that his Third Baptist Church of San Francisco is three blocks away from Yang’s business and has been broken into multiple times, too. Yang should have asked to do things together instead of slamming the mayor, the reverend said, adding that he approached Yang and “reasoned with him.” 

“I did not blame the mayor for this problem,” Brown said. “This is an American problem, and no individual mayor can be blamed.”

A man with a mace mask holds a bullhorn during a “Stop Asian Hate” demonstration.
Rapper Chino Yang participates in a Stop Asian Hate demonstration in a screen grab from the video for his song “San Francisco Our Home.” | Source: Courtesy Chino Yang

Brown also noted to Yang that he used an art form that was birthed in the Black community. 

“Rapping came out of South Bronx back in the ’80s when young Blacks were in pain and had to verbalize, express the experience of that pain,” Brown said.

Brown said that Yang sent him a video of his apology, which he believes is “a profuse and genuine apology.” It is unclear if this is the same video Yang posted to Instagram.

The Mayor’s Office also released a response to the video stating that Breed has been focusing on improving public safety for members of the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities, including funding popular escort programs for elders and expanding the community ambassador and patrol programs.

“We've seen an 80% decrease in API hate crimes after a spike in 2021,” the statement said. “We are working to continue to support our API communities and working to strengthen ties between communities as well.”

Yang said he will not attend Thursday’s rally but will withdraw the music video on his own social media.

Han Li can be reached at han@sfstandard.com