Reviving a community through hip-hop
Part Time Cooks places the spotlight on the Korean underground, hoping to help build a stronger, more international scene.
“Maybe the headline could be ‘Soju is cool and all, but be sure you’re doing something while you’re drinking it,’” jokes Saul Goode as he sits at a table outside a convenience store in the heart of Kondae’s Chinatown district. It is just one of many quips that has passed between him and Part Time Cooks partner Black Moss in the past hour.
After a round of laughter and a few more jabs, Black Moss returns to the original topic at hand, saying the two are hoping to do what other foreign acts in Korea have yet to fully accomplish.
“If you look at us, we’re just this South African guy and this American guy in South Korea. You can’t tell me that there is someone before that came and did hip-hop music the way that we are doing it and trying to take it to the level that we are taking it to,” he said.
In just the two short years since the Part Time Cooks debuted, they have striven to push themselves to work harder and go farther, to create an international underground scene based in South Korea by bringing together local artists and foreign artists. They’ve also released two full-length albums this year alone, opened for American rapper Anderson Paak, and thrown a series of parties known as Stove Top Sessions over a year that turns club Secret Society into a packed house every month. They’ve worked with several local artists, building up a special relationship in particular with crew Vismajor, and hope to collaborate with even more local artists.
They have also managed to bring in two international acts to perform in Korea at Stove Top Sessions – North Carolina rapper Well$ in September and New York rapper J-Live in October – with plans to host another show on Dec. 3 with New Yorker Koncept.
Black Moss says the decision to start bringing in acts from overseas was just a natural next step as they built up the Stove Top Sessions brand. They had been doing the series for a year, inviting local artists to perform, and wanted to take it to the next level.
“There came a time when we had to step it up and make the party different. And give our followers something new. So obviously the next step is to bring in international guests,” he says. “And then we thought, okay, well this is the lane we should take. Bring some international acts and really start an underground international hip-hop culture.”
Usually when foreign acts come to Korea, they only perform at large concerts or festivals, but back home there are many up-and-coming artists that perform in clubs, creating a different atmosphere in which to enjoy hip-hop. They hope to bring that underground vibe to Korea, which will also make their parties bigger and better for the audience. Luckily for the two, they have the help of whisky maker Jameson, who sponsors the Stove Top Sessions.
Saul adds that other clubs had been resistant to showcasing artists that weren’t as well-known out of fear that no one would know them. So they saw a space where they could step in and bring over artists that are just about to blow up overseas or underground legends for smaller, less expensive shows. Their first with Well$ was a success, which just pushed the two to keep going forward.
“The whole vibe, the thing that I really like that Blessing (Black Moss) and I have going [is that] he’s from South Africa and I’m from the States, and we’re an international hip-hop collective. I feel like it’s only right for us to try and branch out and share the love of this amazing scene that we have out here with people from back home,” he says.
That drive also pushes them in their music. The two released full-length albums Bakers’ Dozen and 7:30 this year, with the latter dropping in July and featuring several guests including Nucksal from Vismajor on the track “Smash Town.” The Korean rapper also appeared in the music video, which the two say they appreciated considering his busy schedule.
So far “Smash Town” is the only track from the album to have a video – though they are currently working on one for “7:30” – but it packs quite a punch, using humor to convey a strong message. PTC said it was mainly the brainchild of director Rory, but his vision fit with the lyrics of the song, which portray the two asking their girlfriends for a threesome. Black Moss said the video follows the theme of men trying to get women drunk to make it home with them. Though instead of using actual actresses, the two act out various scenarios with inflatable sex dolls.
“We think we’re in control, but really by the end of the video you realize – the point of the video – is that actually, the women are in control,” he says. “Our own ego makes us think that we are deciding what gets to happen before you hook up with someone, but really, it shouldn’t be that way. And it isn’t.”
They both admit they had some reservations about traipsing around the streets of Ansan – the shoot’s location – with the dolls, in that people would misconstrue what was going on. However, they were lucky enough to have only had one bad encounter throughout the entire 30-hour shoot, which took place over the course of a single weekend.
So what is coming up for Part Time Cooks? Besides a few collaborations, more international guests at Stove Top Sessions and a web series showing a funnier, weirder side of the duo called “Arena” – or “Ass Arena,” as Black Moss likes to joke – the sky is the limit.
“Since working together, we’ve really pushed each other and grown our passion to [where] nothing is impossible. We can have a career in another country as rap artists. We can bring international acts to South Korea,” Black Moss said.
“We can open up for Anderson Paak,” Saul immediately adds. He later commented that they hope to bring up-and-coming local brands with them as well, using Stove Top Sessions as a venue to show off cool sets by others.
“I’d really like there to be a scene where all of these amazing people doing awesome s**t in Seoul are all doing it at one place. And hopefully… our parties are one of the places where we can get their stuff seen, and work together and be around people with good ideas,” he says.
Stove Top Sessions is next set to take place at Secret Society in Hongdae on Dec. 3. To find out more about Part Time Cooks, be sure to follow them on Facebook.