The Jungle Concert In L.A.
Tiger JK, Yoon Mi Rae and Lee Ssang
The Jungle Concert In L.A. was a night of Korean hip-hop at the Wiltern, highlighted by LA Weekly favorite Dumbfoundead's appearance with the group Drunken Tiger.
Dumbfoundead — whose real name is Jonathan Park — has garnered much praise for his video for “Are We There Yet,” released in July and already at more than a million views. He spit a verse to Drunken Tiger's song “Jet Pack,” but was there largely to support his “hyung” (older brother) Tiger JK, who heads the Drunken Tiger crew, with his wife and former Uptown member Yoon Mi Rae.
Park tried to rush off the stage after he was done, but JK kept him on for at least a couple more minutes, calling him the “freestyle king.”
Lee Ssang first revved up the crowd with a mix of pop, hip hop and R&B. They were a fun duo, wearing shades and suits, with Kang Hee Gun in spiky blonde hair and Gil Seong Joon in a black hat. Their song “Clown” sounded like Outkast's “The Whole World,” and featured a scary carnival clown on the screen behind the performers. Towards the end of the set they took off their shades, Hee Gun did a little breakdance move and body wiggle, and Seong Joon poured water over Hee Gun's head.
Rising-star rapper Bizzy spent the first 15 minutes of his set warming up the crowd, before JK joined the stage. “K-Town, Los Angeles, make some motherfucking noise,” said JK, and welcomed his collaborator Stylistic Jones. JK's rap style, most times raw, deep and guttural, softened for “8:45 Heaven,” about his late grandmother. “One last cry, Let me say good bye,” he rapped. “Please don't let her die on me I know it's a lie.”
Yoon Mi Rae joined her husband for “True Romance,” and cheers roared from the audience. The poppy hip hop song had elements of Common's “The Light” and Jay-Z and Beyonce's “Bonnie and Clyde.” It seemed rather fitting that Yoon Mi Rae came onstage during this song, as the couple are known as the Jay-Z and Beyonce of South Korea. Baby-faced and beautiful, the half-black, half-Korean rapper sang fluently in English and Korean with a strong, clear and magnetic voice.
The show was performed predominantly in Korean, with one or two verses or hooks in English. At one point Mi Rae asked the crowd, “How many people out here speak English?” There were screams. But when she asked how many spoke Korean, there were deafening claps and shouts.
“First of all, I want to say thank you. I haven't performed a lot in the states, so I was a little nervous. I had a couple of shots so I'm a little tipsy,” said Mi Rae when she came out.
The singer continued with “Black Happiness,” a song about her growing up biracial and getting teased by her peers. “So you gotta be strong, you gotta hold on and love yourself.”
There was a lull from the crowd after a short stint of “Murder She Wrote,” performed by Mi Rae collaborator Ann. No one really danced, and Mi Rae and her husband saw the dip in energy. “Maybe you guys are a little shy, I dunno,” Mi Rae said. “Or maybe we're not as young as we used to be.”
The performers slowed it down for the next song, then sped it up for “Get It In.” The “Kill Bill”-ish style music video screened behind the singers, to which JK said, “Tasha has the best motherfuckin' video right now!” The crowd jumped up and down to images of Mi Rae killing and stabbing a bunch of guys with a samurai sword.
As everyone was worked up into a dancing, stomping mass, multicolored confetti burst out of pipes on both sides of the stage.
Lots of pictures, below.
The crowd: Asians who were probably 18-25, with a few scruffy haired middle aged men scattered among the crowd, rapping along seriously to Tiger JK's lyrics.
Personal Bias: I have an Uptown album recorded on a cassette tape somewhere, leftover from high school.
Random Notebook Dump: Twice, there was shrieking feedback from the mic, but the sound people were on it.
Five Korean hip-hop acts rounded out “The Jungle Concert in L.A.” at The Wiltern Friday. MC Tiger JK headed the Drunken Tiger crew, with his wife and former Uptown member Yoon Mi Rae performing as well. Rapper Bizzy, R&B singer Jung In and hip hop group Lee Ssang were also on the bill.