Korean rapper ready for U.S. tour
For hip-hop artist San E (born San Jung), the decade he spent living in the United States made a huge impact on his music. “I didn’t really know what hip-hop and rap (were) when I was in (South) Korea,” he says. “And then I moved to Atlanta when I was in middle school and just naturally started paying attention to it, because it was everywhere. I was lucky, even though I didn’t think so as a kid. Atlanta has a lot of great musicians. The music scene is pretty diverse, and I was just going with it.”
Phoning from Seoul, the bilingual rapper said he was excited about his first nationwide tour of the U.S.
An edited version of our conversation follows.
A: Visiting the places I have never been to before. I am looking forward to seeing the local artists and producers and hearing live music. I like meeting people and having fun. I’m looking forward to trying different kinds of food. I have never visited Chicago before. I have had deepdish pizza in Korea that supposedly was Chicago style, but I know it has got to taste different than what actually is made in Chicago. So things like that will be fun to find out firsthand. (Laughs.) I get excited when we talk about pizza.
A. Beat and flow-wise, there’s a lot of similarity. But lyricwise, it’s very different. Subject matters can differ, depending on what’s going on in your country to an extent. In Korea, you don’t say, “I’ve been popping!” You don’t rap about guns, because it’s not an issue for us.
A. When I was really young and my parents told me we were moving to America, I really hated the idea. I didn’t want to leave all my friends and everything that I knew. But now that I think about it, it was a really good move, because in the States, we had all different kinds of cultures and races. That gave me a wider viewpoint. Later when I toured, I was able to explore even more different cultures, and it was just amazing. The experience of living in America made a huge impact on me socially and politically. But it also influenced me to want to see more.
QA: Oh, wow. I want to be their tour guide — free of charge! Korea is a safe country, and a lot of places are open 24 hours. There are lots of taxis and buses and subways that are easy to take. The food here is great. If you have jet lag at 3 a.m. and are hungry, you can grab some delicious food from a street (cart). There are lots of goodlooking guys and beautiful ladies, so it’s fun to peoplewatch. And liquor’s cheap! (Laughs.) For foreigners, visit Itaewon, which has lots of (expats). Young people go there to check out the clubs, which have everything from jazz to hip-hop to R&B to EDM.
A: The list is too long, because there are more countries I want to see than countries I have been to. I’m thinking of going to Europe for a month or so, maybe with my brother. It is my dream. I would want to start in Italy and just move around from there. The specific countries don’t really matter as much as being there and exploring.