January Issue: Return of the Tiger and the Queen
Two urban music pioneers return to the U.S. and discuss what it’s like to spread the hip-hop gospel in South Korea.
by Lorna Soonhee Umphrey
It was a match made in in hip-hop heaven.
In 2007, Tiger JK, founder of pioneering Korean hip-hop group Drunken Tiger, married Yoon Mirae (born Tasha Reid), a biracial former teenage member of late-1990s R&B group Uptown and now considered South Korea’s “Queen of Soul.” While comparisons could be drawn to Jay-Z and Beyonce, this couple, individually, has done far more to advance their respective genres in Korea than Jigga or Beyonce ever did in the States. Each gained international acclaim in Korea, breaking boundaries by tackling sensitive issues, such as the sex trade in Korea in the video for Drunken Tiger’s “I Want You” and racism in Korea in Yoon Mirae’s “Black Happiness.”
As the Korean music industry changed, both of these artists were able to maintain their own style and keep their fans, even after taking a few years off to create one of their best hits—their son, Jordan. KoreAm sat down with Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae before “The Jungle Concert in L.A.,” held at the historic Wiltern Theater in December, which was their first joint concert in America.
Q & A:
You were recently a judge for Superstar K (a Korean version of American Idol). What was that experience like?
Yoon Mirae: It was excruciating, but I had a really good time….