First off, salute to fellow Korean-American, Jay Park for representing the culture(s). I never thought I’d see the day a Korean-American kid from Seattle get signed to Hov’s Roc Nation. So to commemorate Jay Park’s new single and music video “Soju,” it’s my duty and honor to present 5 Jay Park songs that you can equally get lit to (particularly with soju).
As a recap for those who may not know, Jay Park has paid his dues. Starting out as a b-boy in Washington state to being signed as a South Korean boy band member in 2pm, the trajectory wasn’t predictable for Park.
When an old (MySpace old) post surfaced, Jay Park fell out of the good graces of the Korean public. Although the post was mistranslated and misunderstood, the damage was done. Park was out of the group.
However, this turned out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to Park. He soon started his solo career, launched his label, AOMG, signing Korean rappers like Simon Dominic and Gray, launched another label, H1GHR MUSIC, and released his first U.S. single under Roc Nation.
With four solo albums already under his belt, Park has quite a library of songs that one can dance, swoon, drink, or do all three to. Here are five of them:
#5 – “Girlfriend”
This was the first single off of Jay Park’s debut solo album, “New Breed” in South Korea. It has the pop sound and lovey-dovey angle of a radio hit, but not the syrupy overproduction of a typical K-Pop single.
The song is mostly in Korean while the main hook and title of the song are in English. While other K-Pop songs have certainly taken this formula, Park really utilized his fluency in two cultures’ music to make a hit song for the masses. Take a shot and sing it out loud.
#4 – “Mommae” (NSFW)
We all like to change it up once in a while like trying out a new haircut or a new dish at a restaurant. Jay Park changed it up by completely shedding the pop star glow for a hip-hop swagger that’s stuck around for better.
“Mommae” translates to “body” in English and as one can see from the video, it’s quite the lesson in anatomy. While Park keeps the fluency in English and Korean, it’s the level of fluency that is impressive here. He raps in both languages, switching between the two as fluidly as he switched his sound and persona.
He’s in full control here unlike you after another shot of soju. Cheers.
#3 – “Drive”
“Drive” is another master class in fluency as Park serenades his listeners, but singing out couplets with a line in Korean and the other in English such as:
“내가 Jay-z면 너는 나의 Beyonce
Together we can run the world”
The above translates to “If I’m Jay-Z, you’re my Beyonce / Together we can run the world.” Park compares himself to his future boss and the girl in the song to the Queen and tops it off with reference to the Beyonce single, “Run the World (Girls)” in the next line. Impressive.
It’s a song you can definitely cruise to, but not after another shot of soju. Drink up and hand over your keys.
#2 – “Yacht”
Park dropped this summer single in 2017, which features an addictive melodious hook that gives a shout out to Rihanna in the lyrics. At this point, there’s nothing more to be said except that this is another showcase of an artist who’s in his prime, dropping hit singles at will.
Another one. Bottoms up.
#1 – “All I Wanna Do”
This song was made for a good time. If you can’t tell from the music video, the song is incredibly infectious featuring a beat from longtime collaborator and AOMG co-founder, Cha Cha Malone. From its sing-along hook to its guest features from label signees, Hoody and Loco, “All I Wanna Do” is put this song on repeat.
The beauty of this song is that there are two versions. The above is the Korean version, but an English version was also released on the same album. This may prove that Jay Park lives up to his debut album’s title. There really isn’t anyone like him in Korea or in America that has reached the level of his success at least in Asia.
His success in America remains to be seen, but almost seems, at worst, like an afterthought or, at best, a foregone conclusion. He shows no signs of stopping and, at this point, neither do you. Here’s one more shot for Jay Park.
*Bonus Track – “Aquaman”
Just in case you find yourself in rare company (last person standing) and those shots weren’t enough, here’s a bonus round. Now, this song is entirely in English. To be honest, I don’t think South Korea would’ve allowed this single to be released if it was translated to Korean.
What is the song about? It’s about the (formerly) unsung hero that DJ Khaled’s wife may not need, but certainly deserves. Drink the bottle.
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Written in VA. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.