Artist of the week – Uptown
Our featured artist this week is the legendary hip-hop group Uptown. They are one of the first groups that introduce hip-hop music to Korea in the 1990s. Tasha, aka "T", was formerly a member of this group. Uptown had broken up before and just recently re-grouped and released their 5th album, their first album in 7 years, with the addition of new singer Jessica H.O. as the female vocalist. Let’s find out more about them:
Jeong Yeon-joon (Producer)
Date of birth : January 5th, 1968
Place of birth : Seoul, Korea
Education : Hanyang University
Kim Sang-wook (Rapper)
Date of birth : April 16th, 1977
Physique : 176cm, 62kg
Date of birth : February 5th, 1976
Physique : 178cm, 70kg
Jessica H.o. (vocal)
Date of birth : December 17th, 1988
Place of birth : U.S.A.
Hobbies : Singing, dancing, shopping
Uptown is a hip-hop quartet centered in the US and led by composer Jeong Yeon-joon, that includes three other ethnic Koreans. Performing soul music with original American color, the quartet was very popular with Korean fans, but had to break up due to some of the band members allegedly being involved in a criminal case.
Uptown was first created in 1996 when the R&B and hip-hop genres of pop music were first introduced to Korea. Jeong Yeon-joon, the leader of the band, had formerly performed many hit numbers like “Pilot” written by Yoon Sang. Since mid-1990s, Jeong, who had great interest in soul music, started to write many hit numbers for different singers and eventually he assembled his own band to perform his songs. The original members of the band were Jeong Yeon-joon, Yoon Mirae, Kim Sang-wook and Lee Hyun-soo. From the early days, Uptown was in the spotlight for their fashionable style, stage manner and of course, music. Back in those days, there had been many bands who to re-interpret hip-hop music into Korean style, but Uptown was the only band who pursued legitimate hip-hop. The powerful vocals by Yoon Mirae were also a big factor in the band’s popularity. Jeong Yeon-joon performed as a member of the band until the release of their second album, and thereafter acted as only the songwriter and producer for the band.
The third album by Uptown shifted to dance music by recruiting a female member Park Tam-hee, who later got into acting. The song “Ola Ola” was a dance number with a Miami beat that confused their fans about their background. Then, the band got involved in a drug case along with members of Drunken Tiger and had to break up. Although the band later was found to be innocent, it wasn’t easy for the members to repair their bruised image. The female vocalist of the band, Yoon Mirae, left Uptown and debuted as a solo singer under the name of “T” and was well accepted.
Finally in 2006, after seven years of absence, Uptown reshaped itself and released thier 5th album, with new members like Jessica H.o. The title song of the new album "My Style" is hitting up the charts now, proving that fans have not forgotten Uptown.
Vol. 1 Represent (1st album, 1995) : Don’t Hurry, See Me Again, Before It’s Too Late, Bye Bye, My Desire, Don’t Forget Me, Stay
Vol. 2 Represented… Now Believe (2nd album, 1997) : You Inside Me, Sad Christmas, You Can’t See Me, Feelin Insane, Give Everything To Me
Vol. 3 In History (3rd album, 1998) : Free Style, Charisma, Uptown Party, Come & Play My Game, I’ll Be Waiting, Walk Slowly
Vol. 4 Verbal Medication (4th album, 1999) : Casanova, UPT Paraxxx, 2 Many Mc’s, All I Wanna Do, Midnight, Game
Vol. 5 Testimony (5th album, 2006) : My Style, Fiesta, One Mo’ Time, Amigo, Ola Ola, Karma, No More Crying
credits to KBS World