Remembering Jonghyun: SM Entertainment Gives Fans Jonghyun’s Final Goodbye

SM Entertainment released, Kim Jonghyun’s, popularly known as Jongghyun,  posthumous album Poet|Artist on Tuesday. Kim’s final album showcases the artist’s meticulousness, complex artistry and the struggles of being an entertainer in a world of constant scrutiny.

Jonghyun title track ‘Shinin’ is the signature electronic-pop he became popular for while a part of South Korean boyband, SHINEE. The song is a promise to always be with a loved one no matter what. It also captures the vibrant personality Kim showed while performing and on variety shows.

The music video reflects the retro vibe Jonghyun established through his previous albums. Jonghyun transitions into various vibrant, gradient backgrounds as he croons his way into the hearts of listeners and Shawols while wearing his signature smile.

‘Shinin’ is Jonghyun’s last gift to fans.

While ‘Shinin’ is an upbeat song filled with everlasting promise of comfort, other songs on Poet|Artist present the darker sides of being an artist.

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B-sidetrack, ‘Hashtag’ tells an eerie story of how one-sided living in limelight can be.  sings of how there were constant rumors being spread about him, but there was no one who could do anything about it. His company overlooked the controversies.

This song is a powerful message about the ugly side of fandom culture and entertainment. Artists seem to be at the mercy of those buy their products, yet are the ones providing their audiences with an outlet to identify some kind of commonality in their struggles.

Beyond that, Jonghyun’s albums and death create a dialogue that has been relatively silent in Asian entertainment. The stigma attached to mental health is deafening. Those who suffer from mental illness do not seek treatment in fear of criticism, but for those who do they are simply deflected and told it is just an aspect of who they are.

However in Jonghyun’s case he did seek help. Unfortunately, he was told his mental illness was just a part of his personality, according to the singer’s suicide note.

This declaration by his doctor only encourages the ‘endure’ mentality many people of color have within their communities.

As audiences across the world remember former Shinee member, Jonghyun, it can only be hoped that his art truly speaks to the souls they were meant to touch. All of us who struggle.

Despite the sorrow that surrounds Jonghyun’s death, there is an uplifting joy. The album is a rollercoaster just like the rollercoaster of life.

The final track on Jonghyun’s Poet|Artist, Before the Spring is a sweet, reassuring track that says all will be okay. Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part is the ending. It feels like the listener can hear him slipping away as he sings his final notes. Still, the calm, sweetness of his voice does reiterate things will always turn out okay. Things are always rough in the winter, but somehow work out in the spring.

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Not only should Jonghyun be remembered for his artistry, but he must also be remembered as an activist. He was an advocate for the LGBTQ community in South Korea, and he always reassured being different was okay. He was a voice for those who felt too different to find a place in this world.

Jonghyun, 27, died on December 18, 2017 via carbon monoxide poisoning. He was the leader of international boyband Shinee. He is survived by his mother and sister.

All of the proceeds from Kim’s album will go to help those struggling like Jonghyun, according to SM Entertainment.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3KrFO9QDgfa4UAiqM6flTf

M/V and Song Review: Martini Blue

Dream Perfect Regime LIVE, also known as DPR LIVE, released the music video for his newest single ‘Martini Blue’ on Thursday. Taking place in the beautiful scenery of Santorini, Greece, Martini Blue is a heavy dose of summer nostalgia and wanderlust.

Drone shots, point of view, mid and wide shots come together to capture the beauty of the city. From drone shots of the Aegean Sea to an attention-grabbing intro close up, the music video offers something similar to Jay Park’s ‘Drive.’ Pristine, vibrant colors of Santorini’s buildings and awe-inducing shots of the mountain-side. As vibrant as Santorini may be, the video produces a calm yet seductive vibe for listeners.

DPR’s director and chief editor, Christian Yu does an immaculate job of providing mid-range shots of DPR LIVE’s shadow and capturing the relaxing, comfort of a sunset. He also managed to put DPR’s signature sunset shot into the video. The colors of the sunset paired with wide-shots of the Aegean Sea create a seductive atmosphere as the song lyric’s come into play.

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photo from WHAT THE KPOP

The lyrics are rapped in a soft yet effective tone. DPR LIVE’s tone fluctuation is strong and captivating throughout his flow. The “mmm-mmm’s” and ad-libs bring a summer liveliness to mellow vibe of the song and video. His lyrics are the typical ‘girl I’m so into you and we could smash by the look on your face,’ but it’s the constant reference to Martini Blue that is intriguing. When the words are broken down and translated, Martini Blue can be an allusion to the moment a person realizes he or she is deeply, irrevocably in love with someone. Perhaps martini refers to the drunken feeling a person feels in love while blue is a deep, complex color. Putting the two together creates a drunken love that is as deep and complex as the ocean.

The overall production of the video and song is well executed. The attention to detail and immaculate editing show this project was conscious of its intended surroundings. Choosing Santorini as the location for a song that makes references to Ariel and “living in a deep blue ocean,” is perfect for showing the freshness and beauty of a relationship. Like love, Santorini is a place people dream of experiencing but not everyone gets the chance.

Soul Searching in Seoul- Part One

At the beginning of this year, I took a life-changing trip to Seoul, South Korea. I was blessed with the opportunity to intern at 10 Magazine Korea while vacationing. It was the most I have ever felt uncomfortable, but it was rewarding.

My first day in Seoul was a complete nightmare. I arrived at Incheon Airport at 7:30 am and was immediately confronted with reality. Seoul was the polar opposite of Texas. Immediately, I had to use the minimal Korean that I knew. I was tired from a 16 hour flight and just wanted sleep.

Fortunately, the lady at the ticket booth and my Airbnb host (bless their hearts and souls) were patient with me. My Airbnb host told me which bus to take, and the ticket lady told me where the bus would pick me up. Unfortunately for me, my inability to navigate followed me to Seoul. In the true nature of myself I missed my bus. At this point, I was on the verge of tears.

In light of my distress, I was told I could take another bus to get to the part of Seoul I was staying in. I immediately texted my bonus parents to tell them I was safe and asked for prayers because we all need prayers.

Finally, I got on the correct bus and traveled the hour to Seongbuk-gu. Once I was settled I was off to my internship. After taking the wrong train, getting lost in Itaewon, and the helpful guidance of a nice stranger, I arrived to my internship an hour and a half late. Needless to say I was ready for a sleep.

Once my orientation and first day was over, I was relieved to finally get back to my Airbnb for some much needed sleep. However, I couldn’t remember how to get back to it. *Cue the face palms* I had taken the wrong exit and ended close to a police station I remembered seeing earlier. It was closed, but I walked around the back and saw a few workers in charge of the parking lot entrance. In my minimal Korean, I was able to ask for help. Obviously, the Lord was watching over me because they were able to get an English-speaking co-worker to give me directions. I was literally five blocks away from my Airbnb.

This was the first and last time I would be getting lost in Seoul.

My first day was hectic but a true test of perseverance. It was a complete mess, but it was a chaos I needed to experience because things would only get weirder from here on out! I was about to experience a personal stretch and growth like no other.

 

My Summer Ear-gasms

As summer 2017 winds down, I’m excited to share a few of my favorite music releases. From Red Velvet to Travis Scott, this summer has been filled with amazing finds and surprises. These tracks definitely made summer a whole lot sweeter.

RED VELVET- 빨간 맛/ Red Flavor

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Red Velvet filled a void let by South Korea’s “Queens of Summer” girl group SISTAR. Red Flavor captures the essence of summer with its upbeat melodies and bright visuals. The song’s bass, high-hat, 808’s, and guiro paired with the members’ vocals creates a concoction as sweet as watermelon.

Red Flavor’s music video also does not disappoint. It stays true to the quirky image Red Velvet has developed since their debut. Each member represents a favorite summer fruit and interview themselves as the fruit. The video also bounces between vibrant summer colors.

Red Velvet’s Red Flavor captures the joy, freedom, freshness and beginnings of summer. The song is how people feel when summer kicks off.

Lecrae- I’ll Find You ft. Tori Kelly

lecrae and tori kelly

I’ll Find You could not have come out at a better time in my life. Lecrae’s lyrics describe an all to real and close to home struggle of coming Home while battling the ways of the world. While, Tori Kelly sings the course of encouragement to hold on and promise to be found.

Kelly’s honey vocals perfectly counter Lecrae’s powerful flow. The raw emotion each gives to the song amplify its message and offers a true sense of comfort.

Religious or not, it is a song that anyone and everyone can relate to.

Travis Scott- Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

It took me a while to listen to this gem, and it was nothing short of great. Butterfly Effect delivered with its soft trap beat. Scott’s voice is entrancing and relaxing throughout the song. With each listen the song becomes more captivating.

The music video’s visuals are hypnotic and transfer viewers into a realm of psychedelic colors. It’s as if we ourselves are on a trip.

Nonetheless, Butterfly Effect is exactly what this summer needed.

BLACKPINK-  마지막처럼/ As If It’s Your Last

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BLACKPINK’s latest release was the perfect K-pop track to start the summer. As If It’s Your Last’s has a flavor that’s reminiscent of 2ne1 through it’s heavy bass and toms, lively trumpet, hip hop undertones, catchy chorus and bright vocals.

The music video is vibrant in its colors of pinks, yellows, and reds. Perhaps the most memorable part of the music video is Lisa’s rap. Her rap is an appreciated contrast to bubbly vocals of the song. Her lyrics are flawless and hard-hitting while complementing her urban attire and background.

The ladies of BLACKPINK are full of energy and sweetness in song and music video. It definitely a catchy tune to groove to throughout the summer.

Suran- Walking

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photo: kpopscene

Walking is the perfect contrast to all of the tropical/dance hall influences of this summer. Suran’s mellow, entrancing voice is relief everyone needs at the beginning and end of each day. It’s the sunrise and sunset.

This song is all about growth and walking through life’s journey. It’s the pick-me-up when things get a bit scary because we’ll all be fine, and the reminder being alone isn’t as frightening as we may think.

It’s the track to keep us all grounded throughout the chaos of the summer.

Shakira – Chantaje ft. Maluma

chantaje

Shakira’s Chantaje was definitely overshadowed by the success of Despacito.

Chantaje is catchy and full of Latin flavor. Drums and a Middle Eastern undertone effortlessly show off Shakira’s Colombian and Lebanese heritage. The beat and the repeating Chantaje are addicting. Listeners cannot help but nod their heads and feel the urge to move their hips. It’s a steady groove that counters Despacito’s various rhythms.

Shakira and Maluma heated up the charts and summer with this gem.

Jay Park- Yacht (K) ft. Sik-K

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Roc Nation’s newest member definitely gave vacation envy when this track dropped this summer.  Yacht is a feel-good song that makes you want to grab your boo and get away from the craziness from the world.

Park’s smooth vocals and Sik-K’s rap combined with a groovy, RnB beat is a sweet, savory recipe. The soft tropical beat transports listeners to a beautiful waters of the Caribbean.

The keyboard, 808, and subtle steel drum makes this track a summer favorite.

These are just few of my summer favorites. Be on the look for more of my favorites!

 

 

Out with the Old, In with the New: Looking back on Twenty-Two

As my birthday quickly approaches, I can’t help but reflect on this year as a 22-year-old woman. It’s had its blessing and lessons, but it was all worth it. I’ve grown and done things I never thought I would ever do. But, if I had to sum up 22 in one word, it would be: adjusting.For starters, I graduated college with a degree I dreamed about getting since I was 15. Writing has always been a major part of my life, whether it was writing poems, short stories, or recapping my day in a diary. Writing was the only thing I never questioned, and receiving my B.A. in journalism was huge milestone for me. I thought “Wow, I can tell people’s stories accurately and effectively now!”

Adjusting to being a college a graduate has been one of the toughest things for me. All I’ve ever known was school and homework, and to suddenly realize I have to get a ‘real’ job was the ultimate shock. I knew I was not ready. As a way to buy myself time, I saved up money and went to intern at a magazine in South Korea.

Moving to South Korea has been the biggest adjustment I’ve ever had to do. I never realized how spoiled I was until I got here. I had been spoiled with copious amounts of love and attention from others. I was very under-appreciative of it. Being completely alone in Seoul has taught me just how much my family and friends truly love me. (So, thank you to those of you who went on midnight food-runs with me. Y’all are the real MVP!)

I had no choice but to adjust to being by myself and investing into myself. I’ve been constantly trying new things just to know myself better. For instance, I learned I’m a big fan of hiking. Never in my life would I have walked up hill for more than an hour just to see grass. It was the peace and one-on-one time between myself and God that made it all worth it.

Twenty-two has taught me so many things. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself, to try no matter what the outcome may be, and to be okay with awkward situations. Just like that time, an old lady randomly started yelling at me Korean to come talk to her. I almost ran away, but took a deep breath and had a pleasant conversation with her in my limited Korean.

I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. This has been something I’ve always prayed for, and it took coming to a 99% homogeneous country to do it. I live in an area where not many foreigners live, especially black foreigners. At first, I never wanted to walk around my neighborhood because I just didn’t want to deal with the staring, but once I started forcing myself to go out it got easier. I put on my signature smile and go about my day like everyone else. I’m comfortable in the person I am and becoming.

As 23 begins, I can only hope to remain kind to myself and others, be fearless, and to allow myself to experience all of my emotions wholeheartedly. Emotions can be dangerous, but downplaying them can be lethal.

Twenty-two, you were beautiful in every way, and 23 I can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Artists with… Seoul: DEAN

desk-music-headphones-earphonesArtists with….

Seoul: DEAN

Written by: Nnehkai Agbor

DEAN is on track to take the world by storm with charisma that has yet to be seen in the Korean entertainment industry. While artists such as Crucial Star, Hoody, G.Soul, Liivii, and Babylon have gained attention for their R&B vocals and individual styles, DEAN has been able to create a movement that has mostly been seen by boybands and girl groups.

DEAN created DEANFLUENZA originating from the name he used as a songwriter. Just like influenza his music has quickly spread across Asia and is making its presence known in America. DEAN’s ability to capture an audience with his signature mellow, honey-like vocals while having a rebel presence of similar to James Dean.

His collaborations with Milla J., Anderson Paak and Eric Bellinger gave him a leg up compared to his peers. These collaborations established him into the American music scene and a growing international fanbase which only built anticipation for his official Korean debut. This combined with being a mastermind behind songs for  kpop groups: EXO, VIXX  HISTORY and f(x) allowed him to create a frenzy that shows no sign of slowing down.

His recent album 130 Mood: TRBL, took South Korea by storm placing No. 3 on Billboard’s World Albums chart and No. 22 on Heatseeker Albums chart. Since his debut, he has remained in the top 100 of Korea’s Gaon chart as well. His album tackles the up and downs of a vehement yet doomed relationship. His vocals and lyrics put the listener in a trance that tugs on his or hers heartstrings while visualizing the story the album shares. It seems to mirror the love affairs of James Dean and Pier Angeli and Bonnie and Clyde. It’s angst and love: a classic love story.

He has also collaborated with Taeyeon and Heize and performed at KCON 2016 in Los Angeles with Amber of f(x) and Zion T in full house. One can only anticipate what more DEAN has to offer through his artistry.

As Dean continues to rise in his music career, he has this philosophy of staying to true to himself and never compromising his worth for “the dream.” A true rebel spirit has taken root in an industry where rules are obeyed.