Ask any youth in Korea who Jay Park is and chances is they’ll know immediately. His long rise to stardom begun back in 2004 when he was just a trainee of the boy-band 2PM. He’d eventually rise to become the leader of 2PM as a lead vocalist for numerous hits. However, his short stint as the leader of a boy band didn’t bring him the fame he expected, and he decided to leave in 2010. The same year, he uploaded a cover of rapper B.o.B’s hit “Nothin’ On You” with his very own lyrics. The YouTube video gained over 2 million views in 24 hours, which is by all means impressive. It would be the catalyst for the massive exposure he would receive in the following years.
[Jay Park, aka Park Jae Beom]
After multiple critically acclaimed releases in his home country of South Korea which earned him significant fame and recognition, Park released an all-English mixtape titled “Fresh Air: Breathe It”. It was the first mixtape by an Asian artist to surpass 100,000 downloads on the iconic mixtape website ‘DatPiff.com’.
[Park’s mixtape cover for “Fresh Air: Breathe It”]
Park’s credibility was cemented in 2013 after numerous appearances in South Korean TV and movie media. Even those who weren’t fans of his music knew who he was by now. He won the ‘Musician of the Year’ award at the 2013 Korean Music Awards. This victory would propel his name to even greater heights, allowing him to make appearances in US music festivals and media.
[Jay Park pictured with Jaden Smith]
Park is a tremendously talented individual, showing skills as a dancer, songwriter and performer for various musical genres. Hip-hop and R&B are his staple genres, although he’s usually considered as a pop star in his home country. He’s been known to incorporate pop, dance, soul, electronic and acoustic elements into his music. Jay Park can be considered as an all-rounder when it comes to musical talent. He began writing lyrics as early as the eighth grade and was coached in singing by iconic R&B artist Kim Jo-han. Kim Jo-han noticed that Park had amazing potential with an amazing and unique voice that definitely stands out.
In July 2017, Park was signed to one of the most notable US hip hop record labels – Jay Z’s very own Roc Nation. Park announced his move on his Instagram with a picture of himself sitting in Roc Nation’s headquarters, captioned:
“This is a win for the town. This is a win for Korea. This is a win for Asian Americans. This is a win for the overlooked and underappreciated. This is a win for genuine ppl who look out for their ppls. This is a win for hard work and dedication. This is a win for honesty and authenticity. Thank you for the acknowledgement and recognition. Just gettin’ started!
[Roc Nation’s announcement of signing Jay Park on Twitter]
As an accomplished artist in his own right, Park can finally emerge onto the US hip hop scene on a solid platform as a rapper/singer under Jay Z’s wing. Roc Nation is undeniably one of the most prevalent and successful record labels in hip-hop. It’s harbored artists the likes of J. Cole, Meek Mill, Vic Mensa, Lil Wayne, T.I., Big Sean and of course, Jay-Z.
[Roc Nation has signed artists the likes of J Cole, Rihanna and Willow Smith]
Korean rappers such as Keith Ape and affiliates have already broken through the US hip-hop scene in their own right, but Park has done it on the commercial playing field. Jay Park is by all means a commercial artist with the capability of reaching millions through his music. He’s an inspiration and a hero among all other Asian-American artists striving to make a name for themselves in the US. His past hits can now receive even more recognition since he will now be able to receive exposure from US fans. Park will also have an enormous chance to collaborate with US artists whether through song guest appearances, as a songwriter, producer or otherwise. It’s time for Jay Park to show and prove on the Western hemisphere under Jay-Z’s wing.