[This is an outside article that was translated by DT Intl staff]
If America has Jay-Z & Beyonce, South Korea has its equivalent: Tiger JK & Yoon Mi Rae. Let”s take a look at this exquisite married couple famously known for their flawless collaborations and chemistry both on and off the stage.
The Hip Hop Couple and their beginnings
Tiger JK was born in 1974. His parents were father, Mr. Suh Byung Hoo, South Korea”s first ever pop columnist, and his mother, Kim SungAe, was the leader of a famous K-pop group, Wild Cats. Tiger JK immigrated to America in his teens and had a rich musical influence around him since his birth. He first became recognized in the music scene when he defiantly rapped, “Call Me Tiger,” at a Hip Hop festival in 1992 right after the LA Riots.
Tiger JK released his first solo album, “Enter The Tiger,” in 1995, but due to the popularity of Seotaeji and other artists at that time, he did not see major success with the album and had to return to America. His real standing in the Korean music industry became definitive when he partnered with DJ Shine in 1999 and released an album under a group name, Drunken Tiger. They went on to release hits such as, “Do you know Hip Hop?,” “I Want You,” Good Life,” and “Because I Am A Man.” After Shine left the group in 2005, Tiger JK took on the name of Drunken Tiger on his own, and the legacy continues to grow today.
Yoon Mi Rae was born in Texas in 1981 to a Korean mother and an African American father. Her father lived in Korea and worked as an Army Officer. Her dad was also a professional DJ, soYoon Mi Rae naturally grew up around music. At a young age of 14, she signed up to be a member of Uptown and debuted at the age of 15. In 1999, she left Uptown with fellow Uptown member, Annie, and formed the female duo, Tashannie. They released hits such as “Day By Day” and “Caution.” In 2001, Yoon Mi Rae started a solo career and proved to be more popular than ever with hits such as “As Time Goes By,” “Don’t Leave Me,” “Did You Forget,” and “Black Happiness.”
Tiger JK & Yoon Mi Rae got married in 2007 after 7 years of being together. It was here where they became known as South Korea’s “Best Hip Hop Married Couple.” Yoon Mi Rae did not believe in tradition and old fashioned ideologies, so she did not have an extravagant wedding. The two had their wedding ceremony in a temple in the mountain near their residence in UiJeongBu. There was no wedding dress nor rings. Instead, a yellow rubber band was wrapped around her ring finger with Tiger JK promising that “One day, you will have the most beautiful wedding ring on this finger.” They are currently living in UiJeongBu with their son, Jordan, who has been blessed with his parents’ genes – musical ability, personality, and looks.
Rise to Success, Trials & Tribulations
Up until the early 2000s, hip-hop was not that well accepted in South Korea. Tiger JK was not welcomed with open arms even within the local hip-hop community. However, Tiger JK proved his worth with the release of Drunken Tiger’s, “Good Life.” This title track from their 3rd album reached the number one spot in 2001, at a time where the South Korean music scene was more geared towards pop artists such as GOD, SES, FINKL. This was reportedly the first “HipHop” song to reach the number one spot. Drunken Tiger instantly gained respect from the South Korean Hip Hop community.
Tiger JK called his wife a “genius,” and this is not an exaggeration by any means. Yoon Mi Rae has been and continues to be South Korean reigning female rapper. She has also proved herself by collaborating with international stars. When John Legend was on tour in South Korea, Yoon Mi Rae had a chance to meet him backstage. They introduced themselves to each other via a freestyle rap. Being so impressed with her talent, John Legend invited Yoon Mi Rae to perform with him the very next day and let his fans know about her on Twitter. She also performed with Asian-American hip-hop group, Far East Movement, and has been continuously praised by legendary producer, Quincy Jones.
Even for this power couple, there were some trials and tribulations. In 2005, Tiger JK was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord. The term myelitis refers to inflammation of the spinal cord; transverse simply describes the position of the inflammation, that is, across the width of the spinal cord. Attacks of inflammation can damage or destroy myelin, the fatty insulating substance that covers nerve cell fibers. This damage causes nervous system scars that interrupt communications between the nerves in the spinal cord and the rest of the body. On one TV program, Tiger JK stated that he experienced instances where he felt a burning feel when he touched a cold object. He would wake up in the middle of the night and could not move his body. He is reportedly to be much better currently, but continues to be on prescribed medications.
Hip Hop Married Couple’s Fashion Sense
Jeon InKwon, member of godfather rock group, Deulgukhwa (A Wild Chamomile), said that when he first saw Tiger JK, he could relate to him. “I used to dress freely and looked a bit like a person on the streets,” he said. “But when I saw Tiger JK for the first time, he looked more so. I found that to be really charismatic and saw the freedom in him. I really respected that.”
Yes, Tiger JK can rock a beard and a perm with a raggy t-shirt and jeans and still look good. However, when he puts on a fitted suit with loafers complimented with a fedora hat, he becomes the definition of a gentleman. Tiger JK’s fashion style is not that different on and off the stage, but it is completely the opposite with Yoon Mi Rae. When on stage, she is not afraid to put on bodysuits and see-through tops, but off stage would rather wear an understated t-shirt and jeans.
Hip Hop Married Couple – A Hot Topic
Back in May this year, Tiger JK and Yoon Mi Rae helped former Super Star K contestant, Yuna Kim, with her solo debut single title track “Without You Now.” Tiger JK & Yoon Mi Rae”s recording label, Feel Ghood Music, stated that when Tiger JK and Yoon Mi Rae heard Kim Yuna rap, they volunteered to mentor her. They said that it was like looking at a younger Yoon Mi Rae. Yuna Kim is due to debut as a member in a girl group along with a former contestant, Jeon Min Ju.
Yoon MiRae will feature on drama, ‘It’s Ok, That’s Love” official soundtrack. The single will debut July 23rd.
Translation by JSK