Korea opens doors, opportunities for U.S. rapper
Story By: Emma Kalka
Photos by: Clayton Jones
New York rapper Koncept had no clue that when he came to Seoul for the first time in November, he would want to stay longer than a week and a half. But almost a week in, he had already cancelled his return ticket.
“I don’t know when I’m leaving,” he admitted with a laugh. “So I’m going to be here for a little bit longer.”
While he will have to be in Canada for a tour that starts at the end of January, for the time being he’s settled in Seoul and thinking about hitting up a few other countries while in Asia. He originally came to do two shows – one at Vinyl City on November 26 and another with Stove Top Sessions at Secret Society on December 3 – but has indefinitely postponed his return date to do more work around the country.
So far, he’s added one more show at Living Room in Haebongcheon and is working to book more dates. What’s more, he’s currently recording an EP with local duo Part Time Cooks and should be finished within a few weeks.
“We’re trying to come in here every day and force two hours. And it was like, why don’t I just stay and then we have… there’s no rush and we can really create good stuff, and not be on a time schedule with it,” he said.
For Koncept, it’s been non-stop action since he landed, which is mostly why he wanted to extend his trip. So that he could experience more of Korea. He left LA around midnight on a Thursday, Thanksgiving actually, and it didn’t hit him until his layover in China that it was Saturday and he would be performing that night. He said that he arrived in Seoul, was picked up at the airport and then taken for barbeque before he hit the stage at Vinyl City.
“The crowd was awesome. The room was full and everybody had a great time. First time out here and it was just really cool. Meeting people who already knew the music and had been anticipating the show. Super excited and super fun,” he said.
The crowd was awesome. The room was full and everybody had a great time. First time out here and it was just really cool. Meeting people who already knew the music and had been anticipating the show. Super excited and super fun. – Koncept
Being in Seoul has opened up more opportunities for the currently LA-based rapper. He said in the short time he’s been here, he’s met new fans, producers, other rappers and even a booking agent who hopes to get him on stage in Europe.
It’s the people here that have really made the trip fulfilling so far for the rapper.
“People are really, just really into music and really supportive of artists. And are really about the culture. I’ve just been meeting a ton of people and everyone is super friendly and super supportive.”
Already he is making plans to put some of his previous releases out through distribution companies here and in Japan, including his latest EP “Fuel,” and is in touch with producers in Seoul and has plans to record with them in their studios. He’s done photo shoots, music video shoots, and appeared on Seoul Community Radio where he shared some tracks from his soon-to-be-released album “Flight.”
Before coming to Seoul, Koncept had spent the last three years shuttling between LA and New York. While technically living in New York, he shipped his studio to LA where he recorded “Flight” at Red Bull Studio. Once that was finished, he was back in New York for a few months to promote “Fuel” before making the decision to settle in LA for the time being. But he admitted that he plans to keep his options open.
“In all honesty, who knows where the f**k I’m going to live. I travel often and I love different places. And, I’m here in Seoul right now and like I said, I don’t know when I’m leaving,” he confessed. “It’s good. I have my clothes with me. And I have my computer and my phone, which I work off of. And there are music studios to use everywhere.”
Performing in Seoul was a long time coming for the rapper. He did a radio interview here four years back, where the idea of bringing him over was originally broached. And while he said he would have loved coming then, now was the right time.
He had a friend based here who was supportive of his music and introduced it to Part Time Cooks member Saul Goode. The North Carolina rapper liked what he heard and after Koncept listened to Part Time Cooks’ music, a connection was made. From there, things began falling in place to bring Koncept over.
“Just with what I’ve been doing and where I’m at in my career – it just made sense for it to happen now and not then. But it’s definitely been something that’s been in discussion for a bit. It’s been a dream of mine,” he said.
And he plans to fill every minute with work in some fashion, whether it’s recording, filming music videos or performing – something that folks should check out if they get the chance. Koncept’s live shows involve a level of energy that permeates the room and everyone in it. He rapped to a massive crowd at Secret Society for Stove Top Sessions, a show that has been called the biggest since Part Time Cooks started them a year ago.
“No matter how big the room, how big the stage, how many people, no matter what, I always put absolutely everything of me into my performance,” he vowed. “I love what I do and that comes through every single time I get onto a stage.”
He continued that he puts a lot of energy into his shows and makes it a real performance – not just playing music. And that the crowd has to feel his energy.
“I like to give them energy from my show and have them basically participate with me in the show. I make sure everybody is in the room together and we are basically a big family in that moment, in that night.”
I like to give them energy from my show and have them basically participate with me in the show. I make sure everybody is in the room together and we are basically a big family in that moment, in that night.