Gai Mou Sou Rap

Updates: November 29, Gai Mou Sou Rap appeared on Steve Harvey’s Steve On Watch Show.

July 15, Gai Mou Sou Rap is part of the Responses:Asian American Voices Resisting the Tides of Racism installation in the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in New York City. The exhibit will end on March 27, 2022.

June 15, one month after its debut, Gai Mou Sou Rap was selected by the 2021 Palm Beach International Music Awards.

June 18, The Reverend Jesse Jackson wielding the gai mou sou with the Grant Avenue Follies after their performance of the rap at a Portsmouth Square rally. See World Journal‘s report.


Date: May 21, 2021

The purpose of Gai Mou Sou Rap is to assert the vitality of seniors and stand firm against hate and violence.

Gai Mou Sou Rap was conceived over dinner on April 18, 2021 by Cynthia Yee, director of the Grant Avenue Follies and Clara Hsu, director of Clarion Performing Arts Center. The escalation in violence against Asian seniors in recent times and the fighting back of one grandma with a wood board brought back memories of the gai mou sou (chicken-feather stick.) Gai Mou Sou is a household duster and also a symbol of law and order in Asian culture. It has been used for generations to discipline unruly behaviors. Raising the gai mou sou serves as a wake up call that rules and respect are what keep the family, community and society healthy, mindful and honorable.

Photo by NPR

Hsu went home that night and wrote the Cantonese verses of the rap. The Follies, who were born in the United States and spoke limited Chinese, took on the Cantonese with enthusiasm. Hsu, the only immigrant in the group whose first language was Cantonese, decided that she would rap in English. Thus the Gai Mou Sou Rap is a true representation of Chinese Americans, whose lives are intertwined and enriched by the traditional and the new, in a continuous blending of cultural influences. Channel 5 Sharon Chin came to our first rehearsal.

With the guidance of Grammy-nominated audio engineer Greg Landau, the Follies recorded Gai Mou Sou Rap on May 10 at 25th Street Recording Studio, Oakland. To the Follies delight, Greg invited Cuban jazz pianist extraordinaire Omar Sosa to fill out the beats. The result was one trance-inducing rap that flowed with ease and vitality. Rehearsals were held at Clarion Performing Arts Center with Miki Katsuyama Novitski, choreographer, who brought out the best of the Follies’ abilities (ages range from 65 to 85.)

At 25th Street Recording Studio, Oakland, CA. Photo by Pat Nishimoto.

Videographer Brent Benaway of Under the Canvas has been working with the Follies, producing short skits via Zoom during the pandemic; and most recently, a Follies’ version of Santa Baby (yet to be released.) Benaway agreed to film a music video of the Gai Mou Sou Rap at San Francisco Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square. On May 14, the Follies invited members of Tai Chi YuenLion Dance Me and other friends to participate in the making of the music video. It was an exceptionally cold and windy day, but the spirit of the community warmed the hearts and kept everyone going until the filming was done. 

Brent Benaway and the Follies

Gai Mou Sou Rap made its debut on May 15 at the National Unity Against Hate rally in Oakland Chinatown to a great cheering crowd, surprised and excited to see the long forgotten gai mou sou reasserting its power as a symbol of strength.

On June 15, one month after its debut, Gai Mou Sou Rap was selected by the 2021 Palm Beach International Music Awards.

Cynthia Yee speaking after the debut performance. Photo by Edith Huang.

GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for production expenses.

…Inspiring. You added poetry and creativity to stop the hate violence against Asians!“—Nina Serrano, poet and activist on Gai Mou Sou Rap’s debut, Oakland Chinatown, May 15, 2021.


Grant Avenue Follies (in the order of appearance): Cynthia Yee, Emily Chin, Brenda OwWong, Avis See-Tho, Ruby Fong, Clara Hsu, Mimi Chin, Pat Chin, Louise Owling, Marleen Luke, Pat Nishimoto.

Gai Mou Sou Rap by Clara Hsu

Music by Greg Landau and Omar Sosa

Produced and Recorded by Greg Landau

Studio Engineer: Gabriel Shepard

Choreographer: Miki Katsuyama Novitski

Music Video Filming and Production: Brent Benaway of Under the Canvas

Technical ContributorsHoratio Jung and Timmy Leong of Sound Innovations for aerial drone photography.

Members of Lion Dance Me, Coach Norman Lau, and Ananda Tang-Lee in card-playing scene.

Members of Tai Chi Yuen from South San Francisco

Special thanks to our friends: Dorothy Quock, Don Wong, Linda Huang, Willy Tsai. Kien-Lam Lu, Myron Lee, Kenn Fong, Max Leung, Mark Wong, Yong Zheng Xin, Enkhtsatsralt Enkhjargal, Steven Yang.