A Far East Movement from Korea

Hi folks! I normally don’t do this with album releases, but Far East Movement has done something amazing with their latest album, IDENTITY. They’ve collaborated with Korean artists on 7 tracks from their album, generating a gorgeous sound that blends the cultures of East and West. Thanks to them, I now have a new list of 7 singers to talk to you about which I’ve dubbed, “a Far East Movement from Korea.”

Opening up the album is US-born rapper/singer Yoon Mi-rae (윤미래) of mixed heritage, to a Korean mother and an African-American father. She moved to Korea when she was a child, and often faced discrimination because of her heritage. She debuted with hip-hop group Uptown in 1996, and after the group disbanded in 2000, debuted as a solo artist under the moniker “T” in 2001. In 2006, she joined the label of her husband Tiger JK, Jungle Entertainment. In 2013, with Tiger JK and rapper Bizzy, she formed a hip-hop trio called MFBTY (My Fans Better Than Yours).

Recently, she’s released 1 song and featured on 2 songs by high profile artists. She released ‘JamCome On Baby (잠간만 Baby)‘ in September, both in Korean and in English, then rapped in Ailee’s ‘Home‘ last week, and sang in English for Far East Movement’s ‘Fighter‘ in just these past few days. I’m going to nitpick with the official translation of 1theK: They romanized the pronunciation of the Korean characters when the translation should be “Just a Minute, Baby”, which sounds way better. I’ll be cheeky then and set that as the proper title rather than 1theK’s version.

Bonus, in last year’s album, MFBTY came out with this gorgeous fusion performance, complete with a video!

The next Korean singer on the list is Park Chanyeol (박잔열), from SM Entertainment’s male idol group, EXO. Full disclosure here, I don’t really listen to idol groups, so this section is likely going to be much dryer than my usual blurbs. What I find interesting about him is that in middle school, he formed a band called “Heavy Noise”, and played with them for around 3 years. Then, when he went to high school, he was involved with his school’s band called “Siren”. Finally, for Far East Movement’s song “Freal Luv”, he helped write and produce the song.

Far East Movement from Korea - Tiffany

The third Korean singer on the list is Tiffany, also from SM Entertainment. She’s a member of Girls’ Generation, one of SM Entertainment’s most popular female idol groups and one of the top Korean girl groups of all time. Again, full disclosure here, but reversed, this is one of the groups I used to listen to before I really delved into Korean music. To date I still keep tabs on what they’re doing, since the solo debuts of the leader Kim Taeyeon and Tiffany sound quite different from what the group normally produces.

2016 has been quite a busy year for Tiffany, with ups and 1 major down. As I said earlier, she made her solo debut back in May with the mini album, “I Just Wanna Dance”. Alongside that, she was cast in the all-female variety show Sister’s Slam Dunk (언니들의 슬램덩크)”, and performed in the song, “Shut Up”, that the show produced for one of the cast members’ dream. Along that same line, she was involved in a scandal with the Japanese flag coinciding with Korean Liberation Day, causing her to step down from the show and withdraw from social media for quite a while. Last, but not least, because she was born and raised in the USA, she is the second Korean singer to sing in English for Far East Movement’s album, after Yoon Mi-rae.

Far East Movement from Korea - Jay ParkNext up is Jay Park, who is yet another American-born Korean singer/rapper. He initially debuted as the leader of JYP Entertainment’s male idol group 2PM in 2008, before being involved in a scandal in 2009 regarding what he wrote in 2005, and left the group in 2010. There’s so much information on his Wikipedia page, that I don’t even really know what to say about him, since I haven’t listened to his music much either. However, one fun tidbit is that he performed in Toronto last year, alongside Ailee and San E.

Looking through his page again, what draws attention for me is what he says about his work. Apparently, he credits both Usher and Michael Jackson as his top two influences, and his songs sound less like Kpop and more like contemporary R&B and hip-hop. He’s also influenced by Taiwanese-American NBA player Jeremy Lin, of which he has this to say.

“(Lin) was off the radar and now he’s playing with the best of the best. People can’t hate on him even though they want to because he’s so good. That’s how a K-pop star has to be over in America if they want to succeed. They have to be so good in every single way that even if people hate, they can’t really say anything.”

Jay Park has just released a new album, entitled ‘Everything You Wanted’. iTunes link here and Spotify link here.

Far East Movement SXWME ft. Jay Park (Prod MNEK)

There’s going to be an official video version of this song soon, so I’ll update when it comes out.

Far East Movement from Korea - Hyolyn

 

Fifth on our list is Hyolyn (효린), (also spelled Hyorin) from Starship Entertainment’s girl group Sistar (씨스타).  She auditioned for JYP Entertainment twice, and was accepted on her second attempt after she placed 1st in the audition. She was set to debut in a project group with 3 other talented singers, but the plans were cancelled. Following that, she left JYP Entertainment and auditioned for Starship.

She has performed solo and as a member of Sistar since 2012, and I’ll focus more on her solo activities with this introduction. Pulling back all the way to Disney’s ‘Frozen’, Hyolyn is the official singer of the Korean version of the music video for “Let it Go“, making her the second Korean singer to participate in a Disney production, after Lena Park singing Mulan’s “Reflection“. Recently, she collaborated with Brand New Music’s Yang Da-il (양다일), for a gorgeous ballad duet called “And Then (그리워)“, before featuring on Far East Movement’s album.

Hyolyn also just made a comeback this month.

Far East Movement ft. Hyolyn & Gill Chang

If you’re curious about the female longboarder in the promo video, her name is Ko HyoJoo (고효주).  Check out her Instagram here! 

Full song version  (Sorry guys, but I love that video too much to not share)

Far East Movement from Korea - Loco

Next up is Loco, a rapper signed under Jay Park’s label AOMG Records. He won the first season of Mnet’s rap competition Show Me the Money in 2012. There isn’t much on his Wikipedia page, and I don’t really listen to him either, so this is also going to be a short blurb. Recently he’s featured on Eric Nam’s summer hit, ‘Can’t Help Myself’, before featuring on Far East Movement’s album.

Far East Movement from Korea - Urban Zakapa

Last, but definitely not least on our list is Urban Zakapa (어반자카파), who we had the pleasure of seeing live on their first ever North American tour, just a month ago. For more details, I invite you to check out Faerie’s post here. Now, considering she already has a write-up for them, I’m challenged to therefore give you more information that she hasn’t already covered. This means more music videos, yay!

Urban Zakapa released two music videos this year for their fifth mini-album Still, prior to featuring on Far East Movement’s album, and they could not be farther apart in terms of mood. One is their hauntingly beautiful ballad, ‘I Don’t Love You (널 사랑하지 않아)’, which really makes you think about what the video is trying to show. The other is a happy summer jam celebrating Thursday nights with an aptly named song.