Several months ago, I wrote a blurb on the latest Yoon Mi Rae single, “Get It In”, and made the egregious mistake of calling her a ‘rookie’ rapstress. For that, I received a stern talking to by recurring member of the comments section, Gag Halfrunt, who let me know in no uncertain terms how wrong I was. A fellow commentator, by the name of MoJo, followed that with amazing praise for Mrs. Yoon’s self-titled 2007 release. With words like that, I had to give it a listen. This piece is small look into a journey over the last couple of months of her back catalog, specifically to said record. I dedicate this to those two users, two sides of the coin bloggers strive to get. Thanks! ^^
Tasha Reid’s career spans over a decade in South Korea – from her time in the hip-hop & R&B duo, Tashannie, to her rise as a solo artist. When I read Yoon Mi Rae was an R&B singer, I was skeptical, since artists that both rap and sing are not known for being good at both. Boy, how wrong I was.
As a record, ‘Yoon Mi Rae’ is a period piece of South Korea’s obsession with R&B sounds during the late 2000’s. Rain, SE7EN and BMK had success with this sound, and idol power players Brown Eyed Girls made their debut with this style of music as well. ‘Yoon Mi Rae’ is full of those tropes, with smooth R&B tracks, mournful piano ballads and bombastic hip-hop songs to keep the album from sinking into depression. The up-beat R&B tracks include the opener “Black Diamond” and its follow-up, “What’s Up! Mr Good Stuff”, the latter of which is a smoother affair than its predecessor, thus making for a better listening experience. Not original or inspiring in its execution, but Tasha’s personality and delivery sell these songs. (It helps to have been happily married at this point.)
It wouldn’t be a Tasha release without her rapping, but because of the nature of the record, this only has two, “Pay Day” and “검은 행복 (Black Happiness)”. The former is loud, filled with bombastic horns and a emphatic percussion beat. Her rap style has rhythm, personality and a ferocity in delivery that seems lacking in her latest work. The problem on this track is the slow break; it feels out of place in a track that’s busy and in your face. The latter is a mid-tempo about the power of music, where she narrates her struggles as a biracial artist in an industry largely of one color. It’s a great message and it helps show off her more serious and technical rap delivery. The additions of her father and grandfather on the track are really nice touches, adding a hopeful tone to the tune.
To continue the feel-good vibe, the record ends with “Goodbye Sadness, Hello Happiness”. This album-ender is one case where a wide-ranging voice would have been overkill. It isn’t necessary to hit high notes to deliver a great ballad; just conviction, emotion and the ability to make listeners believe in the lyrics, which Yoon Mi Rae has done beautifully. Her voice is at its best here, and with a simple message, “Goodbye Sadness, Hello Happiness” is a hopeful way to close ‘Yoon Mi Rae’.
It will be close to a year since I discovered k-pop and close to six months since writing for The Residence. There is a lot of back catalog that I have little to no knowledge about, and being here helped me realize that. Yoon Mi Rae’s self-titled record is among her best work, with R&B that’s smooth, ballads at once sexy and emotional, and rap that’s outstanding. I have fallen for this record and only regret finding it this late. Do I regret my mistake? Not in the least; if the punishment is discovery of talented artists and their work, is it really a mistake?