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The beginning of June marked H1GHR MUSIC’s 4-year anniversary. To celebrate how far they’ve come, let’s dive into the label’s history, the key to its success and much more.
In June 2017, Jay Park, rapper and former member of the kpop band 2PM started the H1GHR MUSIC label with fellow Seattle, Washington native and musician friend Cha Cha Malone. Having the label AOMG under his belt since 2013 already, Jay Park wanted to create a label that could be a bridge between Korean and American R&B and hip-hop, unlike AOMG, which focused more on the Korean music scene. The name of the label represents the artists’ objective to keep on getting higher and evolving as artists in the industry.
The first artists to be signed under H1GHR MUSIC were Sik-K, pH-1, Phe Reds, Jary Dee, Yultron, Raz Simone, GroovyRoom and Woogie.
In 2013, Sik-K gave his mixtape to Jay Park in a waiting room at an event. He later joined Show Me the Money 4 where he forged a friendship with the CEO of the label. After being signed to the label, he dropped his single Fly, while Raz Simone released his album Drive, Theory.
In 2017, H1GHR MUSIC signed the producer Thurxday (who is now better known under the name Mokyo) as well as Woodie Godchild who had participated to Show Me the Money 6, and G.Soul, winner of The Voice Korea, who had formerly been with JYP Entertainment for 17 years.
Groovyroom joined the label in 2018 but had already started working with Jay Park before the official contract announcement. Having won High School Rapper 2, he had amassed quite a reputation for himself despite his young age. During the year, he dropped his EP Travel: NOAH. He is the one who scouted HAON, noticing his abilities before he ever got any recognition on television.
2019 was also a good year for the label, having signed Big Naughty after his Show Me the Money 8 appearance and Trade L some time later in 2020. The label also launched Rain’s Gang remix that same year.
2021 was a big year for H1GHR MUSIC, having added a branch to its label with GroovyRoom launching a new affiliated label called AREA and signing Jay B of Got7 as one of their artists. This latest addition to the H1GHR family created quite a buzz in the music scene.
Jay Park’s labels have often been called an oasis for musicians, as the artists seem to be thriving under H1GHR AND AOMG, but what makes H1GHR MUSIC so successful? Some of the key concepts that keep on surfacing when asking the question are creative freedom and trust. Indeed, H1GHR MUSIC is often described like a family where the artists are free to collaborate with each other and to experiment with new sounds, which you can see with the multiple featurings on each of the artists’ projects. The members often talk about how this group dynamic inspires them to get better, to evolve. The younger members bring a lot to the table with new sounds and new techniques, while the older ones usually take on the role of mentors. The artists receive a lot of support and mentoring between each other, but also from the CEO, Jay Park, who has been in the industry for years, starting in the Kpop side of the music scene before transitioning to Krnb and Khiphop as a solo artist. Jay Park takes on the role of big brother, manager, mentor, friend and much more.
In the documentary ‘H1GHR MUSIC: WELCOME TO THE FAMILY’, DJ SMMT mentions that “artists who are already established are helping those who just started and we make progress together as a group. Such relationships among the artists are what makes H1GHR MUSIC different”.
H1GHR MUSIC seems to be all about collaborations and sharing, which is why it came as no surprise that they made a joint, self-produced project of two music tapes of 14 tracks each in 2020 to celebrate the label’s 3-year anniversary. Working with such a big group of artists with different sounds pushed them to release two separate tapes where each artist could shine in various styles.
The first tape to be released was Red Tape: H1GHR on September 2, 2020. This tape features heavy rap songs full of energy and angst that took the music charts’ top spots with songs like H1GHR, How We Rock, Teléfono Remix and The Purge, while gathering immense success on YouTube with millions of views and spots in the top trending videos.
On September 16 of the same year, the label dropped a second tape called Blue Tape: H1GHR. This tape completes the first one with some more melodic and chill songs full of sleek raps and warm vocals. Songs like Oscar, Afternoon, Me&Bae and Swing my Way found great success with the audience.
“Red Tape is for the culture. Blue Tape is for the fans. Both of them together are for legacy, and to make history”, commented Jay Park, always true to his ambitious self.
4 years in, H1GHR MUSIC has now become a household name in the music industry, constantly fighting to get to the next level. One can only imagine what they’ll be up to next!