Local boy breaks through on the biggest stage of all

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Local boy breaks through on the biggest stage of all

It may not be a Grammy for album of the year, but a Korean musician has made a successful foray into the American pop music market for the first time.
Park Jin-young, 32, a producer and singer, along with co-composer Bang Si-hyuk, wrote the song “The Love You Need” that was included on the new album from popular American rapper Mase, which was released last month. “Welcome Back” is the rapper’s first release in five years, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard chart.
Mr. Park has been always controversial. No Korean musician has ever received quite the level of criticism he’s managed to draw. Critics rail at his revealing stage outfits, dismiss his lyrics and even accuse him of pirating popular American songs.
With this latest feat though, he is drawing praise rather than scorn.
It was not the musician’s first attempt at cracking the Billboard chart in America.
“My first challenge was in 1999. I went to America and only faced a big wall of discrimination. It was like comparing when a black man tries to perform traditional Korean music in South Korea.
“A couple of years later, I was successful in selling some of my compositions to Janet Jackson and Maya Azucena. But sadly, those songs were not put on their albums," Mr. Park said.
He returned to South Korea, tail between his legs, and set out to cultivate a superstar. And that’s just what he did, most notably with Bi (Rain) and G.O.D. He then began to yearn for a different, bigger challenge, his mind wandering back to the time he spent in America.
“I found that 23 songs among my compositions hit No. 1 up to that time. Then I thought I could achieve something more. I was especially desperate to prove wrong all the people who accused me of plagiarizing American music. I wanted so badly to make a No. 1 song in America,”
He settled in the United States last October. He delivered his compositions to record companies during the day and wrote songs in the evening. At night, he went to clubs, scouting out the most popular, cutting-edge music.
He collaborated with his colleague Bang Si-hyuk in South Korea by exchanging music files through the Internet.
For five months, no record company would take the bait ― executive after executive showed zero interest in his music. It was in March, however, that the big break came.
Executives Sony Music, which counts global superstar Will Smith in its stable of artists, told Mr. Park that they would like to take another look at some of his compositions.
“I’m still wondering why they decided to listen to my work all of a sudden. Maybe it was decided from heaven, something that’s beyond human power,” speculates Mr. Park.
Will Smith chose to record one of Mr. Park’s compositions for his new album. Since then, everything seems to be coming up aces for Mr. Park, who is now better known as JY Park.
One of the most critically acclaimed hip-hop groups today, OutKast, who won best video award at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, have asked Mr. Park for a song. They belong to a list that also includes Lil Jon, a producer for Usher, one of America’s most popular solo artists.
“I am working with a new American singer called DeJuan. My goal is to put his name on the Billboard chart within three years. If I achieve the goal, I promised my family and friends that I would stop focusing so much on my work."

by Lee Kyong-hee
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