On March 17th JESSI started her US Tour ‘Break Out’ and the first stop was not other that NYC ! We prepared a special review to bring you back to one of the most spectacular nights of the year with Jessi and YOX. RELIVE the concert with us:
This would be the third outing in a little under a month, where I’d have the pleasure of seeing YEAR OF THE OX decimate a stage. The first time of course, on the “We Might Die” tour’s Vegas stop. The second in San Francisco for the premiere of “Bad Rap”. An incredible documentary chronicling the careers of four Asian-American rappers and friends, trying to breakout in the Hip-Hop scene. Amongst the artist appearing; YOX’s own Lyricks… Though this is the honeymoon phase of my YOX fandom, there’s an initial contemplation, if the luster could wear off. Is the third time really a charm? Was my fervent interest in them peaked solely, out of the excitement of something new?
Even before coming out, they made their presence felt, with their voices projecting from the back, to the very stage they’d soon take to. If you’re familiar with any movie ever, ominous voice projection, is usually the point in which things are about to get all the way real. In this case, it was good thing. Once the music hit, I realized my anticipation had reached an all-time high. It was time for the excessively magnetic; compelling and dynamic, MC’s to hit the stage… It was your run of the mill YOX show.
They performed songs from their self-titled EP, and engaged the crowd in Y.O.X. chants. A highlight for me, was hearing “Strictly for the Lees”. A song I’ve exhausted the play button on the past few weeks. Their energy and Lyricks’ reluctance to hold on to water during “Stampede”, makes it another favorite to hear live, alongside “Check 2 Check”.
They went on to perform, Sesame Seed Oil’, capping it off with their pièce de résistance, “Seven Rings”. They’re such a joy to watch perform together. They complement each other so incredibly well, and never give anything less than a great performance. Once their set was over, I concluded, they’re just two incredible performers and humans, and that is what keeps me wanting to go to shows. Third time was definitely a charm. Even as I write this; eating struggle meals consisting of instant macaroni, and pop tarts; untroubled by the idea of having spent nearly every dime I had to to get to N.Y. The travel time for those two gigs, totalling 3,000 miles to see them. WORTH IT. To think this was the show that almost wasn’t for me, due to a mix-up. A mix-up made right by Lyricks. Making him a show stopper, and a show saver. How do they find the time to be so rad? Remember the name YEAR OF THE OX. It’s a name that will be forever synonymous with dopeness.
“You guys have no idea” proclaimed Lyricks, as he promptly exited the stage to make way for Jessi. He was right. She’s an undeniable talent, but the allure of her, for me, was her genuineness. Although I’ve been a budding fan of music made in Korea a few years now, oftentimes the music or it’s artists lack an authenticity. Blame it on the short leash they’re afforded artistically, or the cultural differences, but the music sometimes lacks an edge. Insert this brash, bold, beauty with a voice so powerful, you wonder how it came out of such a tiny girl. My hesitation with venturing into the female Korean Hip Hop scene, stems from a lack of depth. Yet here you have this New York native, who doesn’t seem to abide by the same rules as everyone else. Personality bursting at the seams. I fell in love with her personality long ago, but I was full of intrigue to see her live. Those concerts are some of the most fun. The ones where you’re unknowing of what’s in store.
“New York City!” her husky voice utters; as she walks out, arms raised, basking in the love from her first hometown show. She opened up her soon to be extensive set, with a rendition of the chorus from “New York” (a track originally by Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys), following up a rousing intro, with “My Type” from Unpretty Rapstar. A female Hip Hop reality show, she was a contestant on. She proceeded to perform “No Love” and then right into “위하여” (We are Young) a collab she’s featured on-on G2’s Ep “G2’s Life, pt. 1”. Next up the chill inducing “울리지마” (Don’t make me cry). This to me, is a stunning display of her vocal ability. It’s a perfect song choice, for a Jessi novice to be exposed to. Hearing it live was an extremely captivating experience. From the somber expressions, insight to the song meaning; it’s evident, the song means a great deal to her, personally. For what seemed like an effortlessly beautiful performance, it’s hard to believe she sang this song live only once prior to this event. Next up, “나이고 싶어” (I want to be me). She spent some time discussing the hardships of being misunderstood in Korea, and ultimately abandoning the idea other people have for you, and being true to yourself.
The pendulum swing took the show straight into turn up territory. Utilizing the second half of her set to display her rap skills. Following “Raise Your Heels”, was I’m Good”. A Big Banana production, featuring MC Gree… Just know, when you hear “Banana Beat” on a track, a trail of fire is sure to follow. Since MC Gree wasn’t in N.Y. to join her on stage, she brought Y.O.X. (Squeal) back out to help her with the song. Naturally, they tore it up. Here’s to hoping the Brilliant, Brash Beauty and the Blazing Boom Bappers, release some music together in the future. Next up 인생은 즐거워(Life is Good), “미친놈”, “Shut Up” by (the Unnies, and lastly 쎈언니(Fierce Unni). She’s fierce indeed.
She went all out for her first show in her backyard. From ballads displaying vulnerability, to bangers showcasing her fierceness, to slight profanity laced rants in between songs, and cute interactions with her father in attendance. On top of being dressed to kill. I left Stage 48 utterly mystified, wondering if at 29, it was too late to convert to Jebbi-ism. She’s magnificent performer, and I look forward to seeing more of her. The night ended allegedly with an after party at a nearby club. I’m sure it was a great way to celebrate a successful sold-out N.Y. show