Korean Hip-Hop Artist Joins American Record Label

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by Youngjin Kim
Jay Park, a Seattle-born Korean hip-hop artist, became the first Asian-American to join Roc Nation. [Image: Wikimedia user임윤아1]

Jay Park, an American-born Korean hip-hop artist, became the first Asian -American artist to sign with Roc Nation—founded by Jay-Z—that manages top artists, such as Rihanna, J-Cole, and Willow. Park, a Seattle native with a breakdancing background, made his Korean debut as a member of a boy band, called 2PM, in 2008. Now a co-CEO of independent hip-hop record label “Above Ordinary Music Group” (AOMG), Park has performed in the United States and released songs in English. Roc Nation also has a Latin division that promotes Latin culture and talents in the United States with its six Latin artists.

K-pop’s influence in America has been expanding. An increasing number of Korean concerts has made North America the second largest K-pop territory. There was a total of 102 K-pop concerts in the United States between 2013 and 2016, making the United States the country with the third most K-pop concerts. US-Korea musical collaborations across genres are also on the rise; notable collaborations include CL and Diplo’s “Doctor Pepper” in 2015 and Dean and Syd’s “love” in 2017. The recent winning of the Top Social Artist Award by a Korean boy band called BTS at this year’s Billboard Music Award further exemplified K-pop’s far-reaching influence.

The Korean wave, Hallyu, in the United States is a long-standing phenomenon. K-beauty brands have captured the US beauty industry upon their official US launch at US drugstores and department stores. Korean drama and media contents are also in high demand, with 18 million viewers. Recently, Kokowa—Korean-owned Korean drama and media streaming service—launched in the United States in July. Kokowa provides English translation within hours of being broadcast in Korea, transcending the language gap. The Korean wave has developed into an indispensable connecting platform between the United States and Korea that provides Americans an opportunity to vicariously experience and understand Korean culture at home.

Youngjin is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the George Washington University.