The Koncept of hip-hop

by Emma Kalka
Groove Korea

The rapper, Koncept, has a lot going on.

Last month, he released a full-length album in both Asia and the United States, titled, “14 Hours Ahead.” At the time of print, he had dropped two music videos from the current album, has a third and fourth on the way, and is shooting an additional two. As if this wasn’t big enough news, he recently signed with the Korean hip-hop label, Vismajor Company (VMC), the home of the hip-hop duo, Part Time Cooks.

All of this has come relatively unexpected. Originally, Koncept came to Seoul in December 2016 with the intention of only performing a two-week tour.

However, it was at one of those shows where the rapper was approached by a representative from Sony Music Asia and asked to come in for a meeting. This led to a distribution deal that would send his music throughout the Asian music market.

“That is ultimately what made me stay,” he said. “Just having the record come out like that and building my brand here–and just seeing the energy and the growth…I saw the potential…”

According to Koncept, the album’s name symbolizes different things. It represents the 14-hour time difference between Seoul and his home in New York City. But beyond that, “14 Hours Ahead” stands for striving to be better and outdoing oneself every time. It’s about visualizing future goals and achieving them.

“And ultimately knowing what you’re capable of and not letting anybody make you feel less than that–manifesting your dreams and your life,” Koncept continues.

Koncept confesses that he didn’t realize until after he had finished the 13-track album that he should have included 14 songs to match the title. However, he stated that it felt right with 13 songs, so he didn’t stress.

He had already recorded many tracks before arriving in Seoul. But upon reaching the deal with Sony, Koncept revisited some of his recordings and added the finishing touches before the mastering process began.

All of the music videos and visuals were shot in Thailand or Seoul – except for one video completed before he arrived.

“I’m just a very visual person in general. I like films and movies and just all art,” he said, adding that he went to school for graphic design. He did a lot of the design for “14 Hours Ahead,” with the help of Rob Taylor and Sasha Amesiu. “I don’t know how many music videos I’m gonna do for it, but basically I want to shoot a lot of music videos.”

One standout song on the album is “Hug Somebody.” While the tone may be somber, the message is one of hope.

“I made that song because I feel people need to know that people care about them and that a lot of people are going through a lot of different things, and it’s not just them that feel that pain,” he said. “I go through different phases of what songs are my favorites. I very much make music from what I’m feeling and from my emotions and from my heart,” he said.

Koncept reflects about growing up in New York and noticing the ill-effects that drugs and stress has on the youth. Often kids feel like they don’t have someone to help them–or even someone to talk to. He wants his listeners to know that there is support–hope does exist.

Beyond the album and distribution deal with Sony, Koncept has recently signed to Vismajor. He and Part Time Cooks are the first foreign artists to sign with a Korean hip-hop label. Koncept said VMC artists are some of his favorite artists in Korea and respects the work they do. He is happy to join the VMC family.

“It’s pretty crazy. I’ve had a lot of people telling me that it’s changing history, which I think is amazing and I’m super proud to be a part of that. Like I said, I love it here in Korea and the energy and the vibe of the land, the people, the artists,” he said. Though he admitted that he’s noticed some questioning the move, mostly because it’s never been done before. He and VMC are determined to make sure they help these people understand.

After a whirlwind seven months, what could possibly be next for the artist?

Plenty.

Koncept is set to release more music videos with “14 Hours Ahead.” Plus, he’ll be touring in Thailand and working with Thaitanium, a legendary hip-hop group there. He met with Red Bull Asia and plans to go record at their studio in Japan. He also has another album that is complete and ready for release.

“My next plan really is to continue to build the brand all through Asia…I’m continuously recording new music, so I just want to continue progressing and getting music out to the world,” he states.

“There’s nothing like inspiring people. That’s my goal.”

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