Artist’s Social Networks
If Owen Ovadoz is easily considered as of one the major cornerstone of the current Korean Hip-Hop scene, the man behind the artist had been under some controversies. We’ll only speak briefly about them because they had an influence on his career, however our aim isn’t to add fuel to the fire.
Nevertheless, it’s important for us to underline that, even if it seems that Owen didn’t commit reprehensible actions in the eye of the law – unlike other artists – or that he unfortunately isn’t the first one saying those words, it doesn’t change the fact that those words are highly blameworthy and don’t help to the completion of a society aiming to mutual respect and equality.
We also must say that, as far as we know, the artist would not have truly apologised and the only thing we can wish for is that he would do it in the future!
Kim Hyun-Woo aka Owen Ovadoz is a rapper who belongs to the independent label and crew Mkit Rain founded in 2015/2016. Also, in 2017, Sous-chefs formalizes his collaboration with the rapper pH-1.
Kim Hyun-Woo was born in Seoul, October 13rd, 1991. In 1999/2000 – so aged of 8/9 years – he moved with his family in the New Jersey where they stayed until 2005. When his family decided to go back to South Korea Owen Ovadoz had around 13/14 years and, it’s only in 2017 that he came back in the USA – so 12 years after.
The artist that we know today had been greatly influenced by those moves. Firstly, concerning his person; Owen often underlines that he used to feel better when he is in the USA especially because of the cultural gap with his native country. Indeed, the liberty of expression is a fundamental value for him, a value which is hardly compatible with the narrow spirit that the Korean society might have sometimes when it comes to some topics according to him. He explains that the Korean society is a society where reprimand and judgement are omnipresent, that this is a society where individuals would be constantly lessened in a position of guilt. The Korean musical scene, and especially celebrities, would be the first affected by this phenomenon. In this way, he hopes to help changing mentality in his native society.
However, that American influence can also be found in his musical identity. If the first album that the rapper bought was an album by P-Type (that he had the opportunity to meet since); the East Coast scene’s influence on the artist is unmissable (for instance, the best example would be Youth with the Old School vibe from his album Problematic released in 2017). It’s, indeed, thanks to the Ipod Nano of his 8-years-older brother that Owen was introduced to rap; growing up with Big L, Tupac, The Rots or even Big Pun’s tracks.
If we can be thankful to his older brother to have been such an influence for him; it is also relevant to underline how much he played a substantial role in the self-fulfilment of the one now best known by the people as Owen Ovadoz. For a long time, Kim Hyun-Woo had a life as normal as it can be. He had played basketball for 6 years and loved to play games such as Pokemon. Therefore, when Owen confided his dream to be a rapper to his parents, they weren’t quite supportive unlike his brother who seemingly would have given him an unfailing support. Nevertheless, his parents respected his choice to one condition: he had to study something more classical at the same time such as English to have the opportunity to be a professor in case he would not have succeed enough as a rapper. This issue isn’t really topical anymore nowadays as Owen Ovadoz dedicates himself only to his rap career since the end of his military service.
A career starting with Show Me The Money 3
If Owen Ovadoz participated to the 3rd and 4th edition of the Korean show called Show Me The Money (Ed: which is a rap competition), it’s indeed Show Me The Money 3 (Ed: or SMTM to be more concise) in 2014 which sets his official career debut up. Back at this time, the rapper didn’t have any real tracks strictly speaking and since he had just finished his military service he was trying testing himself. The show then gave him some exposure – brief one may reckon but still – but it especially allowed him to face other rappers; to evolve thanks to their feedback and also to get in touch with some of them like The Quiett at the end of the 4th edition.
An artist who is receptive to collaborations
Stronger thanks to his experiences, Owen creates a SoundCloud account in where he diffuses his mixtapes Part 1: Owen and Part 2: Ovadoz. At the same time, he distinguishes himself on the duo ODB with the rapper Debi Ben David with whom he will make two mixtapes ODB Part 1: ODB in 2014 and ODB Part 2: Move Da Culture in 2015 but also some collaborations in 2016. However, their friendship isn’t in the news since Debi unveiled a diss track in November 2017 called Ovadozed in which he criticised the opportunism Owen would seemingly display. Indeed, according to him, Owen Ovadoz would favour money over true creation (Ed: Owen responded with Tho You don’t know, however his message isn’t quite clear, he’s more general, Hiphopkr offers us a really good resume of the issue. You can find the links at the end of the article in the sources). Besides those events, their collaborations were really good musically speaking, a real harmony seemed to link both artists… However, when it comes to the audience, it’s truly the collaboration with Nafla in 2015 on the track Locked and Loaded which causes one the first main rupture in the rapper’s career. They met a little bit by chance. Owen discovered Nafla through the Mixtape Gold Race by Incredivle on the track 63빌딩, where Nafla was performing as a featuring. Impressed by the rapper’s flow; Owen contacted him and Nafla answered a few months later by offering a collaboration on the track Locked and Loaded (you can already see Young West and Bloo in the M/V).
If the rappers keep in touch, Owen however stays independent a little more before joining the Mkit Rain. During that period, he records the real good P.O.E.M, his first album studio released in January 2015, in which there is collaborations with rappers such as Paloalto, Okasian, Nafla, Loopy, pH-1 or even ELO or LIVE. Concurrently the crew Dream Perfect Regime (DPR) contacted him. Their idea was to release a Korean version of the Hmmm Freestyle by the crew Hott Headzz in order to give more visibility to the KHip-Hop scene. And we can say that it was a successful gamble! The Eung Freestyle, whose video had been released in April 2016 on DPR crew’s official channel knew a global breakthrough and it’s worthy of! (Eli’s note: I’m really biased on that point but that’s the honest truth! Ed: an editorial recounting more precisely the details of that collaboration would be available in the very next months).
Stronger again thanks to those different experiences and, because he got along well with the crew, he joins the Mkit Rain the same year. If Loopy, Nafla and Bloo were already a hard core in LA, the three of them sharing a more West Coast musical identity stamped by the LA’s vibe; one doesn’t cancel the other out, and Owen quick fits in. The crew, which quickly became an independent label, is enriched thanks to different musical influences (Ed: you can find more precisions on Mkit Rain’s projects here). Loopy even confided that the label was leaning on Owen a lot because of his huge lyrics writing and live stage’s experiences.
Since SMTM3 he maintains a regular collaboration with pH-1 which becomes official in March 2017 under the name of Sous-Chefs and with the M/V Cookin’ and New Wave Attitude. Thanks to their common East Coast influence (Ed: pH-1 is based in New York) the two rappers quickly became real-life friends (By the way, his favourite collaboration on the album Problematic is the track Cloud 9 featuring pH-1). In a 2017 interview, Owen implied the duo might unveil an album together.
A prolific rapper
With two mixtapes and three really good albums in the space of 4 years of career, the solo career of Owen Ovadoz is pretty substantial. And for good reason; writing comes as easily to him as breathing, the track City whose M/V was unveiled in March 2016 on YouTube would, for instance, had been written in 5 minutes while he was heading to LA for a collaboration with the beatmaker duo Groovy Room. The same happened for the recording of the rap part of his album P.O.E.M which would have only taken less than 2/3 months. More generally, he explained in an interview that the production of his tracks often unfolds like this: he listens to musical productions then starts to write according to his inspiration, subjects or topics coming to his mind. For now de doesn’t produce himself and prefer to buy beats to perform on. However, he doesn’t dismiss the idea of producing himself one day, but he prefers waiting to earn more money as a rapper. By then, he prefers to dedicate himself fully to his lyrics which are quite meaningful to him.
Indeed, his first album P.O.E.M had been named like this because he always wished that his lyrics, the tracks he’s sharing, would be more poetic. Then the name was fully realised.
When you listen to his album, you can quickly understand the personal dimension that some of his track could have. For instance, he has a special affection for Hip-hop from the album P.O.E.M. It’s a track where, according to him, he would have “poured his soul”. It’s the same for his album Problematic unveiled in September 2017. Shortly before the album release, Owen had been highly criticised because he had defended the rapper Neil who had been involved in a scandal where he had asked an underage fan to send him nudes of her,
We’ll not talk more about that issue because we didn ‘t really followed it, however all personal judgement side-lined, such acts are indeed intolerable, in any way.
But let’s go back to the album Problematic, before the scandal, Owen already had an ongoing project, Campfire and he would have chosen another way precisely in order to think about these events. It’s something he explained in Kurt Cobain, the introductive track of the album.
It also seems to be his guiding principle in his album Changes released in April 2018.
In the future, Owen doesn’t limit himself, he wouldn’t exclude singing for instance and multiplies live performances.
How can we define Owen Ovadoz?
The scandal involving Neil wasn’t in all likelihood enough for Owen who, again, had been under the spotlight because of his more than questionable and misogynous words towards “white women” during an Instagram live in October 2017. His Instagram post as the outcome of this upheaval quite worsen the situation and the rapper didn’t have, as far as we know, made a true apology since then. As we said at the beginning of the article, obviously we are condemning such words and we invite you to take the issue as an example not to follow. His career suffered from it a lot, quite rightly, and Owen seems to be aware of it regarding one of his interview on NunReacts official YouTube channel. He was especially criticised as he tends to describe himself as a conscious rapper, which is king of paradoxical given his controversies. In this way, avoiding failing into pop psychology, Owen Ovadoz is a quite ambivalent character, above all if we believe in what Debi Ben David said:
”I believed in you but in the end you’re full of contradictions”
Ovadozed, Debi Ben David
Consequently, Kim Hyun-Woo has as much followers as detractors when it comes to the different scandals he’s involved into.
Finally, it’s maybe his stage name which defines him the best. As his friend BewhY, religion seems to have a dominant place in the rapper’s life since he multiplies Christian references, lately again in Hurt, 6th track of Mkit Rain album: Public Enemy “Thanking mighty Jesus you my righteous Leader”, or even the City M/V he dedicates to “all those fans around the world and Jesus”. Furthermore, Kim Hyun-Woo’s stage name would even have been taken from the Bible, the Gospel according to Matthieu. Owen would mean in Korean offering his other cheek, “if someone slap you on the right cheek, offer him the right one”, about being generous. It would be the luminous side, the good one. Whereas he gives to Ovadoz several meanings. Firstly, overdose because his music would create addiction (a stage name like others, rap or the ego trip world ~~), but also his dark part, the evil one.
Owen Ovadoz seems to be aware of his own demons as he said in his songs or even in the interview we talked about before. And he assumes that, as he explained during an interview whatever he might say he’s always aware of it and deal with the consequences. Nevertheless, he seems ready to change, especially because he is caught up by a material reality. Unlike the previous accusations we talked about earlier, it would not be for the money in itself as he said in the eponymous song of his album Changes, but rather to support his relatives, his label (Ed: it’s not our aim to take a side here, it’s only known facts. There isn’t judgement). In another interview dated from 2017 he already mentioned that he was trying to start meditation, hiking while conversely going out less.
But he is also a clear-sighted artist about the society surrounding him, he’s really critical on people who tend to just follow the system and for him Hip-Hop would suffer from it in Korea. According to him the Korean society would tend to be too much superficial, not really appreciating Hip-Hop as an art but more for the image surrounding that scene. He reproaches SMTM for misleading young people who, starry-eyed, are embarking on rap without realising the involvement it requires or the harsh reality hidden by the success of a minority. For Owen, to become a rapper isn’t something you do overnight, according to him, as a teacher must know what he talks about a rapper as to do so.
And if this lesson takes its full meaning, we hope that he would have learn his, he would find an outcome in his quest to “be a better person”.