Famous son struggles to escape dad’s long shadowFor an aspiring musician, being the son of an near-legendary musician definitely has its high and low notes.
Kim Yong-hun, 25, a former VJ who recently set up the hip hop duo Supersize, would like to be known by his stage name, “Square.” He’s better known, however, as the son of Kim Deok-su, the famous percussionist and master of samulnori, a genre of traditional Korean music.
As a famous son, however, Kim has got more connections than he probably needs ― or even wants.
His first album, “Rookie of the Year,” was released recently with the help of Lee Hyun-do, a former member of the duo Deux who worked as the album’s “captain”; featured on the album were hip-hop musicians such as Ju Suk and Iruma, a New Age pianist trained in London. The title of his new album, “Vulnerable Guy” came from the Deux release by the same name that was a hit 13 years ago.
“It’s true that I am indebted to the fame of the people who back me,” Kim said in a recent interview. “I used to hate that my father’s name was always tailing me. But now, I accept it as natural. It’s not like I can’t reject it anyway. But I try harder to block out people saying that my success was due to my connections.”
It doesn’t help that fans have a nickname for his band: “the second Deux.” The earlier group had an eager fan base, but one of its members, Kim Seong-je, died accidentally; rumors spread that it had been a drug overdose. An avid fan of the band since he was a teenager, “Square” says he fears his actions will give the group a bad name.
“I was overwhelmed after reading a letter from a fan on my Web site that there are still 100,000 fans of Deux,” he says. “It made me tense, thinking we could cause trouble for other people if we don’t do a good job.”
He began working with Sam, a support rapper for Ju Suk, in January this year for a new album. They stayed in Lee’s house in Los Angeles for 15 days, composing lyrics and practicing their rapping.
“If Hyun-do wrote a song, we had two days to work on the lyrics,” says Sam, whose Korean name is Lee Sang-min. “Then he would go through them to check. We got yelled at for bad lyrics and bad rapping. We feel like we’ve gone through hard training.”
Even still, the new songs, such as “Angel,” “Good Bye” and “Pump up the Volume,” still sound much like Deux.
“A Letter From Afar” was a song written by Lee about how he wants to see his late friend, Kim from Deux.
“We are ready to get whipped by hardcore hip-hop fans,” says Sam. “But we don’t want to be limited to the hip-hop genre. We deliberately made the lyrics less than serious. They contain thoughts which many Koreans in their 20s could identify with.”
by Jeong Hyun-mok