hello again SAB fam! been a while since we last posted, but scope this exclusive interview. we got to talk to uzuhan, a korean-american hip hop artist who's really pushing the fold... we really dig his tunes. here's some stuff he has to say!
1) What's your story about your cultural roots? Did it have an effect on your music career/the way people viewed you in the music industry?
I was born in Maryland and grew up in a Korean household filled with music. My dad would obsess over the Bee Gees and spend evenings listening to Korean trot. It was like tradition to blast his favorite song "Funky Town" every Saturday morning to clean the house. It's funny to look back because I used to think his music was corny but now I'm thankful he had such great taste!
My parents immigrated from South Korea to Maryland in 1988 and started working in the dry cleaning industry not knowing any english. They endured hardship in America so that one day they could see their children thrive. Growing up as a third culture kid and being the first-born, I felt the burden to achieve financial success to support my family. So choosing a music career path was not an easy choice.
Being Korean-American has also affected my music taste. I'm not just a hip-hop head, I also listen to folk and K-Pop. My identity influences my drive and passions. Even though my parents don't completely agree with my vocation choice, I still make it a point to tell their story to the world. It's important for me to look back at my history so that it will inform my future. Sometimes I'm afraid what people might think about me, but I realized that loving myself and sharing my truth was one of the best things I do for the world.
2) What's your opinion on the way asianness / masculinity is perceived in America?
With the popularity of K-pop rising in America and more prominent Asian figures in media, I think Asian masculinity is starting to become more nuanced. Perhaps more categories are being formed in American culture to describe asianness. I know this is happening because we have people like the Fung Bros and David So who are popular for being authentically themselves. It goes to show how greater exposure can lead to more understanding.
It wasn't always like this though. In the past whenever I performed in spaces unfamiliar with the Asian experience or underexposed to Asian artists, I would often feel like a novelty item. People mean well, but you hear your share of comments like "you sound black" or "I never knew Asians could spit" it makes you wonder if your art is taken seriously or viewed as legitimate.
Overall, I'm very grateful for the Asian creatives out there making dope content for the world to see! It encourages people like me to keep going.
3) Do you have any personal anecdotes about your experiences as an Asian person navigating western spaces that you would like to share?
Living in America, as a person of color, I feel like I was forced to grow up quickly in some ways. I was the one who called utility companies impersonating my father because he was unable to proficiently communicate in English. Kids of immigrants will be able to relate to this story.
There was this one time when I had to call a mechanic on behalf of my dad to explain the issues with our sink. It was a long and frustrating conversation, but we came out of it with clarity and a plan. So the following week, the mechanic stops by and the hilarity ensues. I’ll never forget the look on his face when my dad greeted him with broken English. He was confused so I assured him that it was the correct place!
check out some of uzuhan's bars here: