Fashion / Interviews / Music

Meet Rising Hip-Hop Artist Kristian J

“I won’t reveal too much about what the song WIPE IT OFF is about. Despite the enigmatic imagery and strange metaphors, it is—just like all the other songs on this EP—a very personal song to me. The “dirt on my mouth” represents those not-so-clean details in your life that you can choose to either reveal to the world or keep to yourself. Would you wipe it off?”

Korean-American hip-hop artist Kristian J has an interesting backstory that draws inspiration from his cultural surroundings. After living in South Korea for two years and independently releasing two albums under the name Joom BaBoom, Kristian is now based in Mexico City, ready to further his music career in Latin America, while constantly honing his personal brand: sexy, smooth, camp, queer.

“WIPE IT OFF,” produced by BrazyKey$, is the latest single from Kristian J’s ‘YANG-A-CHI’ EP. The track easily glides into soft hip-hop against the backdrop of American 2000s R&B. Sonically, in its production and songwriting, the track is a sensual discovery. 

We had the chance to talk with Kristian J about “WIPE IT OFF,” his artistry, and more.

What was the inspiration behind your single “WIPE IT OFF”?

The song “WIPE IT OFF” is about struggling to decide which secrets you’re willing to reveal to other people. All the imagery in the lyrics was inspired by an old Miley Cyrus music video for her song “Dooo It!” In the video, there’s all this slime, paint, and glitter pouring onto Miley’s face, and I thought it was just such a cool video when I first saw it. I decided to turn the imagery into a metaphor for my own lyrics. The chorus goes, “I got some dirt on my mouth and I’m never gonna wipe it off.” In other words, there’s some shady stuff going on my life, but maybe I should just wear it on my face for everyone to see.

What genres or artists have inspired your music?

My biggest influence, musically and artistically, has always been Lady Gaga, but like many, I’m inspired by a variety of artists and genres, even without realizing it. My favorite genres are dance pop, alternative rock, and reggaetón, and these days my biggest influences are top artists like Doja Cat, Drake, Justin Bieber, Post Malone, etc. I’m a big fan of the commercial stuff.

How does the new single fit into your upcoming EP and its title ‘YANG-A-CHI’?

I made almost all the songs for this EP using beats that I bought from producer Amirwave (previously known as BrazyKey$), so that’s the main thing that ties all the tracks together. “Yang-a-chi” is a Korean word basically meaning “punk” or “gangster.” It can have many connotations, but for me, it’s someone who lives life differently from everyone around them. Many of my songs touch on this theme in one way or another, and “WIPE IT OFF” especially so.

You said that the EP incorporates Korean influences. What’s it like pulling together a project that fuses your Korean roots with hip-hop sounds?

Korean music has always pulled substantially from hip hop since the beginning of KPop up until today. It’s interesting to see how Koreans have interpreted American hip hop and have tried to put their own spin on it. However, I’m not particularly a huge fan of it. As a Korean American, I grew up with American music, and there’s something about K-Pop and K Hip-hop that just doesn’t capture its essence or authenticity. I personally try to make music that fits my own taste, and it makes little difference if people want to label that Korean or American or something in between.

As an LGBTQ+ artist, how has music helped you support the LGBTQ+ community and how has the community influenced your music?

It always inspires me to see how queer people around me choose to express themselves and create art. Some are so daring and cross boundaries in ways that I normally wouldn’t, but appreciating their self-expression helps me to push my own art in new directions. Here in Mexico City, the queer community is very open, which is a completely different experience from the more closeted city of Seoul, where I used to live for a few years. After moving away from Seoul, I could actually feel myself opening up and feeling comfortable pushing my own boundaries. My perspective on why I’m even creating music also changes a lot depending on where I live.

What do you want fans to take away from the single?

Enjoy the song. It’s a chiller, darker track and has some sick vocal chops from Amirwave. If you really like it, dig into the lyrics and see if you can figure out exactly what I’m trying to say.

Now that your EP is out, how do you feel?

This EP is the highest-quality body of work that I’ve put out so far. I’m just excited to have it out there and share it with you all!

Stream ‘YANG-A-CHI’ on all streaming platforms, and its latest single “WIPE IT OFF.”


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Read more music articles at Cliché
Images provided by Jeff Moon @shotbyjmoon

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