Korean-American rapper Jay Park has taken down his video for ‘DNA Remix’ following accusations of cultural appropriation.
The song, which is a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 single ‘DNA’, was released on June 14, and features Park and several fellow K-hip-hop artists rapping about being proud of their Korean heritage. The participating artists were YLN Foreign, D.Ark, 365LIT, pH-1, lIlBOI, Lee Young Ji, Ourealgoat, Choo and OSUN.
However, some viewers accused the track and its video of appropriating African-American culture, noting that some of the performers, who are not Black, were sporting hairstyles such as afros, braids and dreadlocks.
One Twitter user accused the rappers of “cosplaying as Black American people and are using Black American culture constantly”, while another called it “ironic” that the song is about “being proud of asian heritage while simultaneously doing [cultural appropriation]”.
On June 16, Park posted a lengthy comment on YouTube where he addressed the criticism. The rapper acknowledged that “Black and Latino people created hip-hop”, but denied that he was “trying to steal culture” or “be Black”.
”A lot of our heroes are Black rappers and not just the aesthetic but their mindset… so it’s only natural that we want to be like them to a certain extent,” Park wrote. “Having a certain hairstyle or look gives us confidence and inspiration and makes us feel like rockstars and it’s because it’s what we see and hear, it feels natural to us.”
“Can we relate to the black struggle? No. But there are certain elements that we can relate and identify with. Every country every culture every person has some type of pain or struggle in their life. There is no other genre that portrays that so honestly other than hip hop,” he added.
Park also said that he “[doesn’t] see color”, but instead views hip-hop as a “universal language which goes beyond race color and religion”.
In his comment, Park also noted that his PR representative had told him “not to post this video”. However, the rapper argued that he “didn’t wanna hide the Korean hip-hop culture [because] this is what hip-hop kids look like in Korea and I wanted to showcase it and address it to the best of my ability”.
woulda been better if he didn’t press “comment” fa this…… pic.twitter.com/OBcbljm9Od
— paolaఌ (@coogiecore) June 16, 2021
Park’s comment has since drawn further backlash, with some accusing the rapper of turning a deaf ear to the criticism. “He didn’t listen to what people were saying about how harmful his actions are and only focused on the fact that people are ‘hating’ on him,” wrote one Twitter user.
In a Twitter thread, Teen Vogue writer Stitch said that they were “so fascinated by… how defensive [Park] always gets” when facing criticism. “There’s no point where he genuinely tries to change things or educate others,” Stitch wrote. “He has power and influence in Korean hip hop and yet he doesn’t try to change it.”
Since his comments, Park has made the video for ‘DNA Remix’ private and unavailable for public viewing. However, a short snippet of the clip can still be seen on Instagram, and the song itself is still available on streaming services.
This is the latest controversy Park has been embroiled in in recent months. In May, he came under fire for controversial lyrics in his ‘Mukkbang! (Remix)’ where he compared himself to Allah: “Worship me like Allah / Get it done like wallah.”.
Park later apologised for the lyric following backlash from fans. He admitted that he “didn’t see the problem” at first but “as I read the comments […] I see that I used a word some are willing to die behind in my lyrics, and it’s not my place to use something that means so much to the Muslim people in my rap lyrics freely”.