Celebrating AAPI month by listening to Jessi’s latest album

Korean American rapper Jessi shines in her latest 2020 album.


Album cover courtesy of PNation.

Natalia Ribeiro, News Editor

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month, I find it important to review an artist from that community that I enjoy listening to. One of the artists that have seen success in the last year is none other than Jessi and her 2020 album “NUNA.”

Korean American rapper and singer Jessica Ho, known as Jessi, hails from New Jersey but moved to South Korea in her teens to pursue her music career. Before becoming a solo artist, she was a part of the k-pop trio Lucky J. She has released one other album in 2017 titled “un2verse” and multiple singles.

I remember the first time I listened to Jessi’s music was when she had just released “un2verse.” Scrolling through YouTube, I stumbled upon her previous music videos and interviews. I loved how fearless she was and how she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

The six-track album features collaborations with well-known Korean artists like Jay Park, BM of co-ed k-pop group KARD, and nafla. Each track showcases her vocal and rap abilities in different ways that help bring out an in-your-face attitude. My favorite songs from the album are “Who Dat B” and “Numb.”

“Who Dat B” starts with a mix of piano and a short silence that helps set the tone of this fierce track.

The three-minute and seventeen-second song, sung entirely in Korean except for a couple of phrases sung in English, continues with the first rap verse where Jessi talks about having no desire to change herself, no matter what the gossip around her might be. The song transitions into the chorus that is heard a total of three times throughout the whole song, where Jessi sings that people love to hate her because she keeps it real and that she stays loyal to those who’ve been by her side, even as everyone may seem to want her. In the second rap verse, she says that the more you tell her not to do something, the more she wants to do it and that she’s that impatient unni, a Korean word that is used by females to call another female who is older than her.

In the accompanying music video, Jessi is featured wearing different outfits in multiple scenes ranging from a white one-piece and jeweled jumpsuit in a theater to a red sparkly blazer outside of a cathedral to a black sparkly one-piece in a piano room. In one scene, she spots a side-eye that if you blink, you’ll miss it. The video isn’t complete without scenes of Jessi dancing with a group of background dancers, each wearing an outfit in a color that matches the outfit Jessi is wearing for that specific scene.

“Who Dat B” would best be described as a song worth adding to your car jams or to your getting ready playlist. I can’t help but feel confident whenever I listen to it. It makes me want to roll my eyes to every naysayer that might have stopped me from doing my best or didn’t like my way of doing things.

While “Who Dat B” is fierce and more focused on rap, “Numb” is a slower, pop-ballad style song that is focused on the vocals. The song is entirely in English, it talks about wanting to drink a breakup away until they are numb. The three-minute and twenty-nine-second song has a gloomier feel than the previous song, an overall feel of a gloomy rainy day.

The music video brings a different tone than what the song brings. Jessi said in one of her YouTube videos that “it’s a sad song, but I don’t want the music video to be sad.” The video is a breath of fresh air as Jessi is seen wearing a white dress with a white hat inside pink bars that are lined with grass to a tank top with green fringes while sitting on a cloud. In other scenes, Jessi is seen in a comfy white t-shirt dress or a casual top and shorts while sitting in a bathtub with what looks like soju bottles around the tub.

The video helps take away some of the gloomy feels of the song but still lives with the same emotion from the track. A melancholy track that details a girl wanting to move on from a breakup but still wants to drink it away until they’re numb.

“Numb” would best be described as the track worth listening to with that friend who just broke up with their significant other and wants to just sit and eat ice cream.

Jessi has come a long way since her days as one of the members of Lucky J and has grown into a confident, badass female artist. She recently took part in the supergroup Refund Sisters, which featured solo artists Lee Hyori and Uhm Jung-hwa, along with MAMAMOO member Hwasa. The group was created on the South Korean variety show “Hangout With Yoo.”

Although AAPI month is only celebrated once every year, we must continue to celebrate that community throughout the rest of the year. We should respect one another no matter the race, nationality, or gender of a person.

Natalia Ribeiro is the News Editor for the University Press. For more on this or other stories, email her at [email protected] or tweet her @nataliar_99.