Just a few weeks before February 16th, my two friends and I were enthusiastically chatting about having obtained tickets to rap icon Changmo’s concert. We were already discussing which crop tops we should wear to match each other and how we should pose for our post-concert group photos. However, to be frank, my taste in hip hop music was biased more towards American artists. I was more excited about just going to the concert than actually seeing Changmo. Indeed, I had never really paid too much attention to Korean hip hop music; I barely even knew who Changmo was three months before the concert. Nevertheless, this concert completely demolished my American hip hop bias.
[Photo of my ticket taken on the car ride to the concert.
Despite our excitement, the setting of this concert was the worst I had ever experienced in my four years as a concert enthusiast. Not only did it snow all day long, but there were also harsh winds, which brought the temperature down to as low as -4 degrees Celsius. Everyone shivered in the snow for at least an hour while waiting to get inside. To make things worse, there had been news of a coronavirus outbreak near Gwangnaru Station, which was barely five minutes away from the arena. Among the piercing sound of the cold wind, staff members were yelling at people to sanitize their hands and announcing that anyone not wearing a mask would not be allowed to enter.
|[Photo of the entrance at Yes24 Live Hall before the concert. Photo courtesy of Christine Kye]|
As we entered the concert hall, we were barely able to speak because of how cold it had been for the past hour. However, as soon as we entered the arena, the atmosphere changed completely. Heavy rap was being blasted from the speakers, and people were squishing each other while trying to get as close to the stage as possible. A wave of relief passed through me as the exciting ambiance and other hip hop fans around me gradually warmed up my body.
The start of the show was one of the most memorable moments of the concert. A few minutes after 6 p.m., a red curtain dropped in front of the stage as the beat to the song Money Made Me Do It started to play on the bass-boosted speakers. The crowd’s screams got louder and louder as Changmo’s ad-libs hovered over our ears and hands, which were holding cameras in violation of the filming prohibition. As the curtain fell down and Changmo officially began his show, computerized flames started to burn in the background beneath the red spotlights, creating the perfect rap stage setting.
[Photo of Changmo performing Money Made Me Do It.
The most memorable moment of the entire concert for me was when Changmo performed Wish. This is my favorite song of his for a couple of reasons; the first one being that the melancholic yet trap rhythm expresses the struggles he experienced on his rise to success. I related to parts of the lyrics, such as: “While my friends went to college, I drank alcohol at the Han River. I thought, ‘The world hates me,’ Yes, it was reasonable for me to act this way... I cried in my room… Each tear tasted different..” I screamed the lyrics as they reflected my own personal experiences of loneliness. The lyrics hit me differently in a dark arena full of people who love them like I do than they did while flowing into my ears through a pair of AirPods on a late-night bus ride.
|[Photo of Changmo performing Wish. Photo courtesy of Christine Kye]|
Throughout the entire concert, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much I enjoyed the booming, heavy music, the act of jumping with the crowd during the most exciting parts of the songs, the shooting streams of fog, and the confetti popping from the ceiling in sync with the beat drops of the songs. I went from near freezing to death a few hours before to sweating excessively while being squished by other concertgoers and jumping and screaming constantly. I realized that Korean rap is just as good as American rap, and I even wondered why I hadn’t gotten into Korean rap before. I would definitely pay 66,000 won and spend hours freezing in the snow to have an experience like that again.
Sophomore (Grade 10)
Christine Kye firstname.lastname@example.org
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