(Vol. 1 - No. 2)
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A rtist s p ot l i g ht:
While traveling in New York, I decided to make one of those late night visits to the studio to see what was on and poppin in the streets of this concrete jungle. From the moment I stepped off the elevator and through the big black doors of Murder Inc.’s recording studio, I was captivated by the sound of the music emulating outside from one of the booths. Inside there sat a few people just bobbing their heads and jamming. As the sound dissipated, Ja Rule moved around the room giving his seal of approval by stating, “this is our year” to everyone in the room. I watched and listened as Somong threw on joint after joint with an undying audience of head boppers. Then without notice, he casually walked over to the keyboard, tickled the keys, and started belting out notes. My interest was peaked and the man they call “SO” for short agreed to grant this hater an interview. Nobody’s Fan™
Palm Beach County, Florida, since the age of five Age:
Early 20’s Favorite Snack:
D: I see that you got some skills on a couple of instruments. What would you say are your two favorite instruments of choice? S: I would have to say that percussion and piano are my two instruments of choice because those were the two instruments that I learned how to play first. It wasn’t even a learn thing…it was just that I picked it up.
Prince Favorite Movie:
Purple Rain, and The Mack Label:
Negotiating with a Major
D: Picked it up? Self taught? S: Self taught. D: Interesting. S: I play piano by ear and I learned the drums in middle school. D: What’s your ethnic background? S: Korean and African American. There are a lot of things in my genes like everybody else. I’ve got Jamaican, Baha-
mian, White… it’s a lot of things. My mother is Korean and my father is African American. I was born in Korea but I’ve always been in Florida. D: You’ll have a lot of women out there who will want to have your baby. S: I am single…old enough to drink… and I have a license…(laughing) D: Even though you’re Black and Koren the first thing people are going to see is your eyes and automatically assume that you’re Korean. So when they hear your music… S: People go crazy. D: Like even though Obama is Black and White they just see Black. But even though your Black and Korean they’re going to see Korean but obviously you have soul. S: I like the fact that people see my Korean first. I think that I would get accepted too easily if they did see my Black side first. So being the fact that I’m Korean or look Korean in an urban market, I’ve always had to prove myself; which is cool. It always tested my strength no matter what and I feel that you don’t know how strong you are un-
less everyday your strength is tested. Sometimes it gets tiresome and you want to quit and give in or whatever, but I’m just blessed with the fact that everyday is a test of faith, a test of my strength. If I walk into a room full of singers that are off, a different type of species and then here I am of a different type of species, and I sound just like them… they’re like he’s not suppose to sound like that…he’s not… (laughing) D: I like that. S: I love it! You know there are a lot of people that are like you don’t sound like you look, or you don’t sound like how you talk. I feel like music is just a whole other language and it’s mutual. No matter what you do, it’s mutual. D: Yeah music crosses all boundaries. S: And it’s definitely is a crazy lifestyle. D: When I walked into the studio I wanted to personally see what you were doing and hear what you’ve been working on. That’s why I didn’t introduce myself to you right away. S: To be honest with you… I focused Nobody’s Fan™
on you. Not in a physical way…it’s just that you were new energy in the room. If I did something I would look out the corner of my eye to see what your reaction was and your energy gave me a place to go. I think that’s the thing about my music. I try to have a conversation through sound to the person that’s in the room. Although that might be crazy, any musician knows what I’m talking about. To be able to make something from scratch… just for the moment, for whoever is in the building. Whether you’re going through a tough time or a good time, I want to be able to capture that so you can make a memory. D: I like that you can expect the unexpected with you. S: I started singing in the choir when I was like, five years old. I love the fact that I grew up in urban churches, SDA (Seventh-day Adventist) type churches, and Baptist churches. Where at a young age I got the feeling…you know, the drums, the heavy drums, and the long stretched out ad-libbed songs. Where they sing the song and just adlibbed for another five minutes because that’s just how creative that they were.
So I’ve always had that in me. D: What does Somong mean? S: Somong means hope in Korean. The biggest funniest thing that everybody always says to me is that, “you always make things so complicated and deep”. It has to be. I can’t be shallow in other words; I’m very, very complicated and deep. Somong is hope, my name means something. D: How does your Asian side of the family feel about you doing Hip-Hop? S: My Asian side of the family would be in Korea and everybody is real supportive. D: Since you’re already worldwide where would you like to tour? S: I took French in school so I would just like to play with French and parlay a little bit in France. I don’t care. As long as I’m safe, it’s fun, and it’s for a good purpose… I want to be anywhere. I don’t want to be somewhere for no reason though. I don’t
care where I am, if it’s for no reason, I don’t want to be there. I don’t have to see the world like that. I want to do something everywhere I go. No matter what!
threat because a lot of people say it’s signing, dancing, and writing.
D: So right now you’re an unsigned artist? S: You can say I’m unsigned. I’m actually signed to a management label and I’m negotiating two situations with another management label and a major; which of course would happen to be Murder Inc. or whatever they call it right now. The Inc., Murder Inc., Gotti…. bottom line it’s directly connected to Irv and I’m negotiating that situation.
D: Self taught? S: Self taught but by watching others. My favorite people to watch were Michael Jackson, MC Hammer and Ginuwine.
D: Do you spend a lot of time in the studio? S: I’ve spent the last seven months of my life in the studio. D: I understand you’re a triple threat because you can produce, write, and sing? S: That’s odd that you say that’s a triple
D: You dance? S: I dance.
D: Do you go to the club and practice your moves? S: You know it’s funny…I don’t know why but recently I haven’t been a fan of big large crowds. D: Is it because New York’s got to many people? S: It might be, or it’s probably because lately I’ve been in crowds where I don’t know everybody. In Florida I know a lot of people so it’s a little bit more comfortable, but it’s probably because I don’t know the ways of the world up here. D: How do you like New York? S: New York, to be honest, is very different than Florida that’s first of all. If Nobody’s Fan™
it wasn’t for New York I wouldn’t have grown up. D: No? S: Even though I’m of age, of whatever age I am….I don’t care whatever age you are, if you’re not from New York then you have no idea what I’m talking about. Or if you’ve never been here you have no idea what I’m talking about. I heard that Cali is different, Texas is different… I’m from Florida; I’m from Miami and its tough there too. But here… D: It’s a whole other beast. S: A whole other beast. D: The sound of music is different here compared to Florida. Well everybody looks to New York for what’s hot, and yes West Coast music is different, St. Louis is different, and Texas is different but New York is the innovator. A lot of the innovators have come from here. S: The exposure here is numbing. If you can get attention here then you’re the shit! If you can’t, then you just blend in.
D: Well you must be pretty special to come all the way from Florida where there isn’t too much, all the way to the Big Apple where you’re in Murder Inc Studios. S: That would have to be God. Everyone understands the situation that Gotti went through with the trial and I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t even looking for an act, but the dude don’t do anything without a reason. I don’t care what anybody says about Murder Inc., I understand that. The quality of people that’s here…if you give it a chance and you break in, which is very hard thing to do because they’re tightly knit family, but it’s a beautiful thing to be accepted.
“I would sa hands on w everything because I c I can sin produce, write for
D: Do you feel that since you’ve been here, in this particular studio, that you’ve learned more about your craft? S: When it comes to me, I would say that I’m hands on with almost everything that I do because I can dance, I
can sing, I can produce, and I can write for myself. But a big thing about me is that I love another person’s input. That’s just something about me. It’s a gift and a curse. I love for people to give their input because I feel like my music will represent everybody…hopefully. I want to be a bridge for different generations, a bridge between good and evil, between gospel and secular. I feel like music as a whole is a meeting point for all languages, and for everyone to have fun.
ay that I’m with almost g that I do can dance, ng, I can and I can myself..”
D: As an outsider coming into the family. How do you feel about sitting down in the studio with all of these great people that have done great things that you yourself have listened to on the radio? How do you feel about working in that type of environment? S: I’m blessed. That’s all I can really say. I tell everybody that…all my friends, all my family, anybody from home, etc. What I go through or what I put up with
along the way was worth it because being here took me to another level, and it takes me to another level every day. Every moment I’m here I get taken to another level. D: Tell me about a surreal moment at Murder Inc. S: My first week here, I was flown up here on the strength of if he can do what he can do, he’s gonna stay. To a lot of people they were like, if I do what I do, then I’m good. But in reality come on… this is Gotti we’re talking about here! Over 30 million sold and he’s worked with so many people. I can’t say that the pressure was on but the pressure was high. That’s safe to say. Not to mention that when I first got here, I did four tracks and they all got erased by someone that was working in the studio by accident. But that person’s worst mistake was my biggest accomplishment because the very next day, I had all four tracks back and I’d even written a song to it. I was very inspired to capture this moment. I only had a week, and I’m not saying that Gotti was like – Oh, forget it. Just…I only had a week. That’s what I was told. I wrote a song and I got it Nobody’s Fan™
placed the same week; which was the first time I’d ever had a song placed in a major situation. I got a nice check and then I was flown back up here. I’ve been here ever since. To me that was a big WOW moment. D: What are your long-term goals in the music industry? S: My long-term goal is to be remembered. I think that is the key to the fountain of youth. That is the only way that you can pass or die and still live is… to be remembered. So my long-term goal in the industry is just to be remembered by a fan, many fans, a person, many people, an artist, and many artists. I just want to be remembered ever chance I get. D: I think you have a fresh sound and one of the things about New York in particular is that when it’s HOT, it’s HOT and the rest of the country will follow. I think that you’re going to spark that new wave of music that they’re waiting for, that their eager for…because personally I’m tired of hearing the same type of music all the time. S: I’ve listened to a couple of new songs by other artists and I can’t say
that I’m not inspired it’s just that everybody is going with the same wave. I just had a conversation like that on Facebook. Everybody was saying that there’s no direct connection from the artist to the fans anymore, and that’s all I can do. I want to be able to capture whatever you’re in right now and when you hear it, I want you to feel that. If I’m having a sexual song I want you to go off with that one song, put it on repeat, and make a baby! Although it’s tough and I can’t please everybody… that is my artistries push. Like me being an artist…I just want everybody to feel me. D: You can’t please everybody. S: I know it’s impossible because when I first got up here I was Pop. Everyone was like oh you blew up in church…you can really sing…you have an Anthony Hamilton vibe. Shout out to Anthony Hamilton because I’m not saying I’m Anthony Hamilton by far. It’s just that everyone keeps telling me that I have a clean soulful type vibe. I just need to study my craft, I have a lot to learn. D: I noticed that you used Auto-Tune’s in some of your sounds. How do you
feel about the program? S: I love the program only because it allows you to correct any mistakes easily first of all, and secondly, it is the new sound. So me not knowing how to use it would be like going against the grain. D: True, you didn’t over use the program either or go overboard. You still showed that you got skills without that. S: Right, it’s my interpretation of AutoTune’s, and by the way T-Pain is one of the most creative people that I have ever met in my life. I don’t care what anybody says about the whole… he’s crazy about the whole Auto-Tune’s ….NO-NO! He can stop using the Auto-Tune’s and he’s still gonna do his thing. D: The problem with the public is that they feel that an artist has to stick with the same sound that they started with when they entered the game. It takes time for people to realize the transition and the growth of an artist. S: That’s why I love Lil Wayne, the type of people that…even if I don’t belong in this genre….MAKE ROOM FOR ME
PLEASE! Because I’m going to study it and I’m going to conquer my interpretation of it. He did the same thing with Auto-Tune’s with “Let It Rock”, and he’s going to be successful because his fans count on him to take them on a journey. They don’t care about the destination. Just take us on a journey every single time. Just like T-Pain. D: People get so used to you being in one genre that they don’t want you in anything else. S: I hate the fact that they always try to put categories and limitations on artists. We are in a new age man! Just like you said, “you don’t even know what makes the United States anymore”, who’s an American? It can be any race now, as long as you’re born here. It’s crazy now. Music is crazy now. It comes from any vibe, any place, and that’s how I feel. I LOVE IT ALL! D: That’s the problem, people don’t understand. So you have to teach them or reintroduce them to that. S: Love, HELL NO! D: Music is universal. S: I don’t know about teaching love. Nobody’s Fan™
Love heals war and it’s not even happening right now. It’s not happening right now. It’s crazy. D: It’s gonna take time and that’s why we need Somong(hope). S: Holla…(as he gives me a pound). D: Definitely your first official hater, how about that? S: Hate is love, baby. Hate is love. D: You know that just speaking your mind automatically means you’re hating. S: They get so complicated now-adays…come on ladies and gentlemen, give it up!! If you like it, you love it, if you hate it, you love it, or you hate it… whatever, give it up!
“I hate the fact that they always try to put categories and limitations on artists. We are in a new age man!” theycallmeso.com
To learn more about SOMONG check out his website: http://www.theycallmeso.com
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Published on Mar 9, 2010