He’s recently found support from Far East Movement and Three 6 Mafia, and has already been a hit in South Korea. Korean-American Jung Hoon Kim, who goes by The Legendary Poet, is a rapper who strays from what he says mainstream artists tend to focus on — money and women.
“[My music] is about life, future dreams, a little bit of everything,” says 25-year-old Kim. “I don’t want to just talk about money, but society. Life is all about the challenges.”
As a young boy living in South Korea, Kim sought inspiration from the late Tupac because, at the time, rap was anything but mainstream. The big hits at that time, he says, were all pop songs. You can see from his past videos (which have more of a homemade feel to them) that even his attire was inspired by rappers of that era.
That inspiration, along with the encouragement of his friends (none of whom were Asian because his neighborhood was predominantly black) when he moved to the States with his family 10 years ago, was the motivation behind his music. When he was 16, he started dropping his beats for strangers, standing on the streets and rapping for anyone who would listen to him. His rough childhood provided a real-life situation for him to branch out to in his music.
“We were really struggling with the money,” he says about his time growing up in Korea. (Even now, he sends money home to his mother who now resides in Korea, and father who lives in New York City.)
He released two albums in Korea — one with an independent label in 2007, followed by another album with a major label in 2009. His last album was even voted as best hip-hop album of the year by Naver.com (Korea’s equivalent of Google).
He’s now working on a third album –- the first one to be released in the States — but is still looking for a major record label to represent him. Most of the songs are in English, but he plans on throwing in a few songs with some Korean.
Though his music career in the States has had a slow start, Kim says his time has been spent on networking — he uses his position as a VIP service manager at Las Vegas’ Palms Casino to meet celebrities and artists. If he can befriend those who have already made it big in the music industry, he says he can use those connections to build his career . . . not to mention getting some invaluable advice.
“I don’t want to just drop one hit and then drop off,” says Kim.