Heesun Lee has been breaking down stereotypes and barriers with her music. She's now poised to break out.
by James Bbang
Heesun's had a busy couple of weekends. Performing at the K-town Night Market in Los Angeles, then back home to New York for KCON NY the next weekend is a lot of flying. But a bit of travel doesn't bother the NYC-based rapper much. Heesun is about to make waves in the mainstream music scene with her upcoming album, "Beauty For Ashes."
Before her K-town Night Market performance, we met Heesun for the first time when she swung by our office with her family! Check out our interview with Heesun below, and take a listen to some of her tracks!
SnackFever: Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Heesun: A lot of it is life experiences, things that I’ve been through, things that I see in the world. [I'm] about, as corny as it sounds, trying to make the world a better place, give women some hope. The music that’s out these days, especially hip hop, is you know, all sex. There’s no self-worth in any of the music these days. I really want ot bring that out, and show women that they should be proud of who they are, and who God made them to be, and not care what society thinks of them. That’s the message I try to bring, especially for women.
How did your upcoming album, "Beauty For Ashes," get its title? There's a Bible verse, Isaiah 61. We were built out of ashes, we came out of nothing. God transforms us into something beautiful. That's what my album is about. It's a lot of things that happened in my past, showing people what I became, and encouraging others that they can be that, too. You can still be the person God calls you to be, wherever you are in life.
You independently produced "Beauty For Ashes." How tough was that? I used to be part of a small Christian label. It was growing, and we had, not a horrible falling out, but a lot of creative differences, and me having children... We parted ways, and that inspired me to do this album. It took a little longer than I wanted to. I went from being signed to a label to being an independent artist, and that reflects in my album. It was financially hard -- two kids, and only my husband is working. I went from having a label to having nothing, that type of thing. It really feels like beauty for ashes because I started with nothing, and I had to build this album on my own.
Have you met fellow adoptees in the music industry? I'm meeting so many, and in the creative industry, people tell me about all these Korean adoptees. It's very encouraging for me, because I felt like I was the only one doing this. For [fellow adoptee] DanAKADan/Dan Matthews, that's amazing to be able to go there and find your parents, and kind of close that part of your life. That's an encouragement to me, to see that he raps, and that he's adopted, you know? He's doing it.
It’s very interesting to see. I think there’s a lot of Korean adoptees who have a story, and they’re becoming not afraid to express it. They’re not ashamed – it used to be kind of a shameful thing, being adopted and not knowing your culture. I used to get made fun of a lot in high school. These Korean people were like, “You should speak Korean. You don’t know your parents!” You know, nothing too serious. But it got to me. At that time, you’re really young, and I was like, “You know, there is something really wrong with me.” That’s how I got into music. I was like, “This is where I feel accepted.” Now, it’s getting better. I feel better about myself now.
How has your stay in Los Angeles been, especially Koreatown? I was telling my husband -- we haven't even explored it all yet. I would love to just walk around here and really embrace the culture, get to see everything that's going on here.
There’s a lot of Koreans in New York, so I got used to that already. But I think it’s a lot bigger here. I always hear that Koreans in LA, this is the place where things happen. It’s not like that in New York. I’m trying to digest it all. Hopefully I can come back and learn more. We’ll see what happens!