Korean rap­per ready for U.S. tour

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Jae-Ha Kim

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.

BRAND NEW MU­SIC

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