By Steven Cong
Northwest Asian Weekly
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many camera phones, ever. But that’s what you get when you put a thousand Koreans in one room,” said Jonathan Park, a Korean American rapper who goes by the stage name Dumbfoundead.
Park recently performed in Seattle on May 30 with fellow artists MYK, DOK2, Jay Park, Art of Movement, and Kero One at the Showbox at the Market. The event generated international headlines and drew a crowd that included audience members from places such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Korea.
Park, a resident of Los Angeles, had been involved with hip hop groups such as Swim Team, Grind Time, and Project Blowed. With his freestyle or impromptu raps without preparation, he came to develop an Internet fan base. His battle against another Asian American rapper, Tantrum, generated more than half a million views on YouTube.com. It became one of Grind Time’s most renowned performances.
“There’s a dude that puts his soul into his music right there,” said Park, in reference to his friend Michael Y. Kim, who goes by the stage name MYK.
Kim was the opening act for the show at the Showbox. He had no trouble inciting cheers from the crowd with his unique blend of lyricism and technique.
“His life hangs on every last line that he writes, and only sees the scenes in his dreams where he’s slaying [the microphone],” rapped Kim in a song called “Reflection.”
Kim is from the Bay Area and currently lives in Korea. He has collaborated many times with the famous Korean hip hop group Epik High. Kim is a hip hop renaissance man who also DJs and produces music.
Lee Joon Kyoung was the next performer; he goes by the stage name DOK2 (do-kee). He is from South Korea and has collaborated with artists such as Epik High and Drunken Tiger.
“This man right here is one of the dopest in Korea, you know what I’m saying? He’s a young dude. He’s been putting in work since he was like, 13 years old,” said Jonathan Park, in reference to Kyoung.
Kyoung takes pride in the fact that he writes and produces his own music. His style of rap is similar to that of America’s southern states. He is currently signed to Epik High’s label Map the Soul.
Mike Kim, who goes by the stage name Kero One, performed during the latter half of the show. He was also raised in the Bay Area.
“This next song is called Asian Kids because if you haven’t noticed, we’re taking over,” said Mike Kim.
Mike Kim’s parents forced him to take piano lessons when he was young. They also forced him to focus on academic success during those years. They originally disapproved of his decision to pursue hip hop but support that choice now. Mike Kim is a versatile performer who plays instruments while rapping onstage.
The Art of Movement Crew and Jaebeom Park, who goes by Jay Park, were the closing acts of the show. The crowd became frantic when Park appeared onstage. Many of his fans brought signs dedicated to him.
“If you go to the [front of the line], and you see the first two girls, they’re wearing shirts that say Jay Park,” said Jumi Young, a Korean American audience member.
Park was born in Edmonds. He auditioned for the dance group 2PM through the television show “Hot Blooded,” and he was selected as its leader. His fame continued through online videos of his dance battles.
He remains active in the Northwest by collaborating with organizations such as the Hip Hop Student Association at the University of Washington.
“Right now, Asian artists don’t get a lot of recognition here, so I think support is really important to get them that recognition,” said Young.
The fans understand that these artists need them to be successful. Support is essential for their success in mainstream America.
“It’s really hard for Asian artists to be recognized in the American community. I think it’s really good that they’re getting a lot of attention in Seattle,” said Alex Yuna Lee, another Korean American audience member at the show.
The artists also understand that they need their fans, and they showed their appreciation on stage.
“It was all for you guys, so thank you for coming out. Thank you a lot,” said Jay Park. ♦
For more information on the artists and the concert at the Showbox at the Market, visit www.allkpop.com.
Steven Cong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.