COTM – Yoon Mirae

Yoon Mirae

I’m very excited about this COTM… Not that I wasn’t enthusiastic for Lexy and Lee Soo Hyuk, but Yoon Mirae (Tasha) just holds a special place in my heart. She’s just fascinating to me because she is so multi-dimensional which I think her stage name reflects if you call her tYoonMirae, which seems to be the name she’s been settling for these days, right? I just call her Yoon Mirae because I cannot keep up with all the stage names she had over the years. And that is exactly what I love about her. Not how she has many stage names, but how she represents, rather she wants it or not, so many things us international K-music fans love but are also confused or hopeful about when it comes to diversity in the K-music scene.

As an artist 

She’s considered as the Queen of K-Hip-Hop. I would mostly agree with this. However, I do think it is a bit hard to give her any status related to her being a woman in the hip-hop industry because at the end of the day, the K-Hip-Hop scene has yet to have powerful established female MCs. Not that I’m an expert, but that’s exactly my point. Even if you’re not into hip-hop, and without even being born in the 80’s-90’s, you probably know US female MCs like Salt-n-Peppa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot(and if you don’t know, you are missing out BIG TIME. Just sayin’)… I feel like the early 2000’s was more about branching out to reach a pop mainstream audience, and you had artists like Eve or Trina. I guess, you have Nicky Minaj today?

This isn’t about who’s a good or bad female MC, my point is I could write this (very short) list just off the top of my head. I can’t do the same about K-Hip-Hop… For many reasons that I wanted to list here but I don’t want to bother you with my rambling. I’d just mention the fact that the genre is still a niche, so there’s still the language barrier that K-Pop no longer has with the ever-growing international fan community that brings translations on a daily basis. If you google Korean female rappers, you don’t find many info or many sources. You will most likely end up going through a list of the rappers in K-Pop groups which is a big difference for me. It’s not about talent. I would quote Outsider telling L.E (EXID) on “Show Me The Money 2” that it doesn’t matter if you rap in an idol group or on the underground scene, the most important thing is that you deliver. It’s about the visibility that Korean female rappers have. Right now, if you’re not in an idol group (CL, Hyuna, Miryo etc) and you’re not Yoon Mirae, it’s nearly impossible for female rappers to be known. I can list Gilme, Tymee (formely known as E.Via), Rimi… And that’s about it. If you know any other Korean female rappers and you think they deserve recognition, feel free to share.

So back to my point, Yoon Mirae is like a Queen leading the way, but I also feel like the industry doesn’t give really promising “princesses” a chance to rise and to also get recognition. It seems that her success created a standard that the industry is reluctant to step away from. I think Lexy had that potential back in the day, but we know how it went. So, Yoon Mirae is like the living proof that “yes, a woman made it big in K-hip-hop”, but since there’s no true other examples, she’s also the living proof that “no, women can’t make it big in K-hip-hop”… In the meantime, doesn’t this show also she’s so good that she actually transcends the gender barrier? Well, I guess we could talk about this topic for days and days.

As a mixed Korean artist

The other thing that makes Yoon Mirae, The Yoon Mirae (or as I like to call my favorite K-celebrities Yoon The Mirae), is of course the fact that she’s mixed. She’s half-Black and half-Asian. I don’t think her talent as something to do with genetics, but the fact that her father shared his own music background just helped her to express the potential. But just a warning, you will hear the term “Black Music” in these interviews and an explanation to her talent based on maybe the “Black” side of her genetics. Moving on.

The fact that Yoon Mirae is mixed made her go through experiences that anyone can relate to. I don’t think she’s here to revendicate something and be “that” artist who is angry at the world for all the bad things she had to go through. I don’t feel resentment in her music. I could be wrong, but I feel like her music is similar to a diary you’d read like a book. At the end of the day, you as a listener/reader can relate to what she says, but she’s not here trying to force you to change not telling you that you should change. She’s just here to share her story.

Before I started studying Korean, I know that I was first appealed to her because she reminded me a lot of Queen Latifah. She has this raw, badass, empowering voice. I don’t know how to describe it, but listen to Queen Latifah’s “Black Reign” album and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Now, I’m not saying Yoon Mirae is copying Queen Latifah’s style. She just has that “this-is-me” attitude when she raps and sings that you can just sense even if you don’t understand a word of what she’s saying.

As a woman 

Korean language has the term 멋있다 that we often translate as “cool”. And you don’t know how much I’ve been trying to find a word in French to describe her, but I just can’t find one good enough. I honestly don’t see any better word to describe Yoon Mirae. She fits my definition of being “a cool woman”… at least from what I see of her on stage and during interviews. She’s that woman who doesn’t need tons of make-up and fancy clothes to have presence and be noticed in a room of people. Her simplicity is what will make you notice her. She can be sweet, gentle but fierce too. She can be the big sister, the friend, the wife, the lover, the mother, anything. She can be anything. And I hope this is what the upcoming translations will reflect.

I’m thankful. (laugh) I feel pressured too. However, I heard there are many female MCs. I didn’t personally get to listen to them, though. So I don’t know if I’m the best or not. About singing, like I told you earlier, I think there are many singers who are better than me. You might think this is pretence, but more than being a singer who shows off her technique or who is the best, I want to become a singer who make good music that you enjoy even 20 years later. Why does Marvin Gaye’s music feel so good when you listen to it even today? I want to become this kind of singer.

See you on April 5th  for the 1st translated interview of Yoon Mirae!

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4 Comments

  1. Great 🙂 I agree, she’s really cool.
    As for new Korean female rappers in the non idol scene, here’s a link for you:
    http://koreanfemalerapper.tumblr.com/
    And an selection on beyondhallyu: http://beyondhallyu.com/music/bh-playlist-10-female-rappers-available-on-soundcloud/

    I agree with you on the lack of consistency of established female rappers in K-hip hop.

    Je pense aussi que Yoon Mi Rae était toute seule (avec Annie brièvement) en tant que fille dans ce milieu hip hop à l’époque. Les autres rappeuses, elles, sont arrivées plus tard en tant qu’artistes pop avec Lexy, puis Tymee et Rimi, et les idols. Mais sur la scène indie ou même underground hip hop il me semble que Jolly V etc sont nouvelles (après 2009 j’imagine vu qu’elles ont l’air jeune).
    Si elles (celles du côté underground) avaient débuté en même temps que Yoon Mi Rae, elles auraient été reconnues et populaires. Au lieu de ça, le temps a passé et l’écart s’est creusé.

    1. je savais que quelqu’un répondrait à mon appel.C’est gentil de penser de répondre en anglais pour faire partager les autres <33 J'ai parfois peur que mes articles en français repoussent les gens, mais bon. XD Je ne me vois pas faire 2 blogs séparés, j'ai déjà du mal à m'occuper de celui-là.

      Vu que tu t'y connais, donne-moi ton avis sur le pourquoi il n'y a pas de rappeuses avec la popularité de Dynamic Duo ou LeeSsang par exemple… Est-ce que c'est qu'elles sont vraiment un effectif réduit ou parce que les hommes ne leur laissent pas une place?

      1. Ah je comprends pour le français qui “repousse”…j’avais un blog bilingue avant et j’ai remarqué ça aussi. Mais bon, one ne peut plaire à tout le monde.

        Oh, je pense pas que je pourrais te donner une réelle explication là-dessus vu que je suis pas experte en k-hip hop, surtout vers les débuts dans les années 90. Je pense qu’il y en a suffisamment pour faire le poids et il y en suffisamment qui ont le niveau. Je pense vraiment que ce sont les hommes et l’industrie qui sont à l’origine de cette situation, en plus du statut exceptionnel de Tasha en Corée qui leur fait un peu d’ombre. Jolly V en a d’ailleurs parlé dans une interview mais elle a juste dit 2 phrases là-dessus, en mettant tout sur le dos de Tasha…j’ai trouvé ce raccourci trop facile et peu éclairant pour nous fans internationaux.

        En bref (ou plus long lol):
        1) Peut-être que Tiger JK a été un “intermédiare masculin” pour Tasha, pour la faire entrer dans le milieu. Peut-être que les autres rappeuses n’ont pas cette aide? Attention, je ne parle pas de piston, je veux dire que souvent Tasha et lui ont travaillé ensemble. Elle n’était pas livrée à elle-même dans ce milieu masculin.
        2) Les femmes en Corée n’ont peut-être pas l’avantage des Afro-américaines qui, elles, peuvent avoir une image féminine et sexy, des lyrics très affirmés et cassants, ET une popularité mainstream. Les Coréennes? Je pense pas. Est-ce culturel? ça ne m’étonnerait pas, même si c’est universel aussi (on a eu Diams ici, mais c’était l’exception à la règle).Tasha était l’exception coréenne. Faut dire que le hip hop est né et a fructifié aux States donc c’est pas comme ailleurs.
        3) Hm, je sais plus trop quoi dire, en gros une fois qu’une coréenne entre dans la kpop, elle doit entrer dans un certain moule (physiquement etc) tout en essayant de garder sa personnalité et une longétivité dans le milieu…ya des compromis à faire que certaines rappeuses refusent peut-être, et le phénomène idol n’aide pas les rappeuses solo…tout le monde “peut” rapper de nos jours en Corée. C’est dingue, ça décrédibilise les pros “newbie” dans une certaine mesure à mon avis. Je pense que la kpop a été formatée de façon si étroite qu’elle laisse peu de place d’autres styles, à d’autres voix. Dynamic Duo, Epik High et LeeSSang ont tous fait leurs armes (euh, leurs preuves) dans l’underground (hip hop) donc ils ont leur street cred, ils ont tous débuté à la “bonne” époque. Et ce sont des mecs donc on les prend plus facilement au sérieux.

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