Yeah, he’s Asian and rapper, but this ain’t no gimmick. Jin has built a solid reputation for bringing it on 106 and Park Freestyle Friday, a weekly rap battle on BET, where he was one of a few to be inducted into its Hall of Fame after seven straight weeks as undefeated champion and in 2005, was wrote a powerful response against a racist song aired on New York shock station Hot 97. But away from his public image, Jin is prolific in his work with four English-language albums out and his Cantonese-language ABC has made waves on the soundscape of East Asia. Down in Malaysia to promote ABC for a 3-month tour, we sat down and had a long talk with our boy representing
Text David Chin
What can we expect from your upcoming album, Birthdays, Funerals & Things In Between?
You know how people talk about what life is about, what is life about? I believe that in life – you have your birthdays, funerals and all the stuff that happens in between them. Somebody is being born at this very minute, and somebody would’ve passed away at that exact moment. I don’t want to make it sound like the album is all deep and philosophical; it’s just about the key things that everybody feels in life. And a couple of general things like love and friendship – you have the highs of love, then you have the lows. What does everybody need, each one of us? Some might say, a million dollars, a nice car and a big house, and someone else might say, a small house, my family, everyone’s healthy and I’m happy with life. So there’s stuff dealing about that too.
Is it going to be digital like your last album?
Well, right now we’re planning on how to release it, and that’s the thing about the music industry right now. There’s no really set way or formula of doing it anymore. It all depends on what our actions are. Now that we’ve finished it, we’re shop around see what kind of opportunities we can get, a major company or maybe a small-scale company to put it out. Worst case scenario – if we don’t see anything that appeals to us, we’ll digitise it and sell it straight off the Internet. I think the most important thing is to get it out to the people.
How do you plan to chill in Malaysia for 3 months?
Since I’ve landed, we went straight to a party at a club. I told myself before I came that I don’t want to party so much – it’s the new year, and I want to get my life together, to get healthy. Just in past couple of years I’ve done so much performing and usually in a club environment. You party, you drink, you pass out and then you wake up the next morning and do it all over again. So I told myself before I came to Malaysia, “Alright we’re going to chill with partying, we’re not going to drink as much”, but then I realised that this is a Chivas tour. So as far as not drinking, that idea’s out the window. I joined a gym here, so during my downtime I’ll spend a lot of time there. I don’t want to get all muscular, just get in shape.
There’s no way you missed the Edison Chen fiasco. So, what would you do if you were caught with your pants down?
You know, I almost feel in a sense, and this is not only applied to Edison but in general to everybody, at any given moment, you know what you do and the consequences. I don’t think they go, “Oh, we’re going to release this at some point”. It just ends up happening. And once it’s happened and it’s out of their control, all they can do is accept it. In the US now, it’s almost a trend. You’re expecting at any minute, someone’s going to have a sex tape released. In some cases, it helped their career even more. You don’t know them for anything else but the sex tape. Let’s hope I don’t get to that point – nobody wants to see a Jin sex tape.
We hear you’ve jumped on the Obama wagon. What was the one issue he sold you on?
What really sold me and made me decide that not only am I voting for this guy, but I’m going to do my best to contribute to his campaign and spread the word was my gut feeling. I always tell people the same thing – in the state we’re in, not many people are into politics. All you have as a voter, in my opinion, is your gut feeling. When you hear a candidate speak, how do you feel? Realistically, they’ll say anything and everything to get liked. So what sold me on Obama was that when I was researching him and his views on issues, watching his speeches and reading his books, I believed him and believe in what he represents. If he gets elected, that would be the ultimate example of change for better. And it would be the sign that the US is built on what they say it’s built on – that your vote counts and that people do matter. A lot of people don’t believe that, but if Obama gets elected, it would be the ultimate example of this country being built on what the people want.
What’s your favourite country music song?
I don’t know if this counts as country, because it has a little bit of rock to it. Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’. I love that song!
What has your career taught you about life?
Sometimes, you have to go through something to get to what you really want. And the thing that you go through may be good or may be bad, and that applies to life in general. You have a dream job, and you’re fighting for it. Sometimes you have to go all the way to the bottom and you’ll feel like “I hate this, I hate life, and I hate everything!” And then you find out that the dream job you wanted is right around the corner. Success might not come in the way you expected it to come.
This year my main focus is the new album, getting it out and promoting it in time for summer and maybe a single in the next 2 or 3 months. Mainly, it’s just to officially decide how we’re going to put the album out. So I want to put the word out on it, because I feel like it’s one of my… I don’t want to say ‘better’ album, because I like all my albums for different reasons. But I’m excited about this one because it has a lot of great songs on it, and that’s what it’s about. You know, a lot of people say “Jin, I like your underground album more”, but at the end of the day, you play a song for somebody, either they like it or they don’t. It’s either hot or not hot, and that’s how I feel about music.
Catch Jin at his tour finale on Saturday 26 April at Titanium Super Dance Club as part of Chivas Regal’s ‘The Chivas Life’. For info, call 1-300-88-2383 or log onto www.absolute-entertainment.com. This interview was published in the April 2008 issue of JUICE.