Joon-young Park (23) is an independent rapper and content creator for HIPHOPPLAYA. Despite spending most of his teen years in America, he returned to Korea because of his love of the hip-hop industry. Now making music under the name JOONBUG, a nickname from his friends in the U.S.A., we interviewed him about both sides of the industry, and his goals for this year.
Disclaimer: These are very basic questions we ask every artist to get to know more about them in order to write our "Who You" segment on Instagram. All the artists often get similar questions. We would normally not release this as it's not a full-on interview but we thought it might be good to do so.
How did you get started in music?
At first, I wasn't trying to be an artist. Well, I thought about it once. I think everyone once has a phase where they want to become a celebrity or an artist. But when I fell deeply in love with hip-hop I was aiming to be involved in the industry by being a journalist. However, by working with HIPHOPPLAYA I was able to see many rappers that I used to see on TV in person. That changed my perspective. Seeing them in person made me realise that they're just other human beings like me. That gave me courage to think, "Why can't I start making songs? They're no different to me." It was that piece of thought that brought me to where I am now.
What would you be doing now if not music?
If it wasn't hip-hop, I would probably be in the U.S.A. studying in medical school. Hip-hop drastically shook my perspective on life when I was a senior in college. I decided to go for what I enjoyed and loved, instead of choosing a job only for money and fame, which at the time was becoming a doctor.
If it wasn't music, my future goal was probably to play a pivotal role in the Korean hip-hop industry. That could be creating content, or working in A&R (Artists & Repertoire), etc.
Fear (prod. bayb) - JOONBUG
You also work as a creator for HIPHOPPLAYA. How did you get started with them?
In summer of 2019, I started a YouTube channel. I made 1-2 videos a week for about a year. The videos were mainly about explaining U.S. rappers' background stories to Korean audiences. One day, I got an email from HIPHOPPLAYA. I was finishing up school in The States at the time, so I told them that I would meet them in Korea in a few months, once I had graduated. I came to Korea early last year and I had a meeting with them. That started everything.
As you're working both in a musician role and a content creator role, I'd imagine you see a lot of different facets of the Korean music scene and music industry. What changes do you want to see happen with Korean music do you want to see happen with Korean music?
It's true that I see a lot of the behind the scenes working as a content creator. I'm not completely against hip-hop labels, but they do restrict lost of the things that artists want to say. This means that the images of the artists are not always completely transparent. I think this is one of the differences between the Korean hip-hop and American hip-hop scenes.
I'm in favour of being independent, even when I start to gain more fans and more spotlight. I want to express 100% of my thoughts and feelings. I want my fans to like what I am, not what I'm showing through the screen. I want to make the music that I like and release those songs whenever I want, and not have to make what a label wants me to make.
Call Me Back (prod. bayb) - JOONBUG
What do you think is exciting in the hip-hop scene in Korea at the moment? Who are your favourite Korean artists?
I work in the Korean hip-hop industry but I'm more tuned into what's going on back in America. I rarely listen to Korean hip-hop. Recently, I enjoyed watching Show Me the Money 9.
If I had to pick some of my favourite Korean rappers, I would pick pH-1, Leellamarz, and Jay Park. I think they're the most versatile rappers in Korea right now.
What challenges have you faced while working in the Korean music scene?
I haven't faced many challenges yet. I am in the process of perfecting my craft right now and, when I am ready, I believe that I can bring something new to the table that this scene hasn't seen yet.
You release singles quite often. How would you describe your music and what do you get inspired by?
Versatility. I admire artists that are all round players. I can name Drake, Russ, and 6lack. They can make hit records, sweet R&B songs, and freestyle songs with heavy bars. That's the type of artist I want to be. I get inspired by lots of great messages from books and just life in general.
Swing - JOONBUG
What do you think sets your music apart from other independent artists' and hip-hop artists' music?
Message. Bars. Melodies. Through music, I want to give courage to my fans that they can do what they love if they put in the time and effort. We can all only reach our full potential when we follow our passion and do what we truly enjoy.
What are your goals for this year? Are there any projects you're working on that you can share with us?
Show Me the Money Season 10. Wait for it. I'll be there. Also, lots more music videos and collaborations.