Well known fact, I have a thing for rappers. Choose a group, and my bias is generally the slick rapper. Deep growls, high whines, doesn’t matter, there is just something that draws me to them. During my span of friendship with Ms. SaraG, I’ve been drawn further into the rap world. She found that light in me and has spent her time drawing it out, slyly introducing me to more and more artists, some well known some on the obscure side. Through this (and egged on by my love of Loco in It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets) I became a big fan of the label, AOMG. I want to pinch Loco’s cheeks, can listen to Code Kunst over and over, and the things that Simon D does to me…well, that’s probably not appropriate for this post. From zero to ‘I want to be their den mother and take care of all of them,’ I was drawn to the collection of underdogs. From there she’s begun her campaign to get me into H1ghr Music.
The bridge over both of these labels, feeding into my interest in both, is my utter fascination over Jay Park. I’m not sure what it is, but while I’m not so hugely into his music as I am of some of his artists, it’s the man, the person who started as a Seattle born b-boy dancer, the member of a popular Kpop band, who went back to obscurity before rising as a solo artist and only became the force behind 2 separate labels that hooks me in.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds his journey intriguing…
A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to see the announcement of a Youtube Red series on Jay Park called Jay Park: Chosen1. As I never actually canceled my premium account after signing up for the free trial to watch the BTS Red series (I’m nothing if not a procrastinator), I couldn’t wait to watch and, it seemed only right to watch as much as possible, with the khop pushing SaraG. (Share and share alike, right?).
The series told in 4 parts, tells the story of Jay as he attempts to break into the US market after joining up with the ROKNATION label.
As we’ve been part of the kfandom for a while, we know, crossing from Kpop to the US is a nearly impossible task to do. Throughout the episodes, we bop through Jay Park’s history, growing up and how he got to Korea, coming back, the creation of AOMG, H1ghr Music, his journey back to the states, all while weaving through the history of Asian American attempts to not only break into but also to be taken seriously within US entertainment.
My favorite episodes were, of course, 2 and 3, where they try to cover the creation of the two separate labels. The series is heavy with AOMG, and episode 2 has lots of interviews with their artists.
(Guess how loudly I squeed when a grinning Loco appeared on my screen? Almost as loud as when Simon D popped in and just spoke to the camera and that voice of his.) That episode wasn’t just Jay Park’s story, but it was also the artists who decided to join him. Since this was his very first attempt at a label with no track record or success, minimal backing or direction this really was a massive chance for them and their careers. Loco was a newbie artist who was barely making money with his current label, so choosing between his existing label and AOMG could have meant failure, and financial disaster (he had to buy himself out of his existing contract). In SimonD, we have an artist who had a name for himself, but with the idea that he’d become CO-CEO with Jay, he was staking his career and reputation on the success of their venture.
As I watched with Sara, she commented it seemed to favor the AOMG boys, but I think there is a point there. Sure H1ghr is also a risk, not only because Jay was contractually bound to not start a competing label, the idea of creating a label that would span not only Korea but the states, however, Jay has proven he’s a hard worker, and with AOMG has figured out a lot of the hurdles and paths to, if not success, then the ins and outs of creating and running a viable label. Plus, as Sara added, it’s well documented he’s hugely close with the AOMG boys, and I think that’s why they really succeeded in such a risky venture.
I also enjoyed the bit about Jay’s path after he came back from Korea, where he had to start again at a regular job, changing tires, because Jay didn’t want to be a burden to his family, and he couldn’t do anything else. Jay Park really has had a roller coaster of a career and proves he has the will to succeed despite anything that’s thrown at him. It was also interesting the idea that no matter what country he’s in, no matter how successful he gets, he’s always going to be the odd man out. He’s too American for the Korean audience, he’s too Korean for the US.
And who doesn’t love an underdog story???
As much as I really enjoyed this documentary, it did leave me wanting. It gave me tastes of a lot of different aspects to Jay Park’s personality, to his story, but it was pretty light on actual details, preferring instead to gloss over the hard bits and jump in time from point to point. It makes me desperately wish someone would actually write a biography on him. I’d buy it. In hardcover! I want to see the steps, how he went from changing tires in the US to his decision to go back to Korea to try again in the music scene. To see his decision and the steps taken to try and start AOMG. How did he get CJ Entertainment to agree to back him? There is a fascinating story there, and we’re only getting tiny little morsels in Chosen1.
I’m hoping that Jay Park gets all the success he’s looking for here in the states. I hope that he continues to work with and thrive in AOMG. I hope that H1ghr proves the point it’s trying to make. I really do hope that someone will go out there and write this story, as its oddly relatable and endlessly entertaining.
If you have access to Youtube Red, love or are interested in Khop, enjoy a good story, I really recommend this show! And if you know of any opening as Den Mom for AOMG, please let me know as I would like to apply.