Jay Park Accused of Cultural Appropriation for Video Remix of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DNA’

Jay Park

People are accusing hip-hop artist Jay Park of cultural appropriation for his “Asian version” of Kendrick Lamar’s hit song “DNA.” 

Problematic video: On Monday the Korean American rapper released a music video for the song — which has since been made private on YouTube — that tackles his pride for his Korean culture and Asian heritage while prominently featuring visuals from Black culture.

  • In the video, Park is joined by other Asian artists from his rap label H1ghr Music, including YLN Foreign, D.Ark, 365LIT, pH-1, lIlBOI, Lee Young Ji, Ourealgoat, Choo and OSUN, according to NME.
  • People online found Park’s video problematic, with many berating him for cultural appropriation as most of the featured artists wore dreads, do-rags, braids and other trends identified with Black culture.

Response to critics: Park later posted a lengthy YouTube comment addressing the backlash while also justifying the creative choices he made for the video, BuzzFeed reported.

  • He began by noting that hip-hop was created by “Black and Latino people” before adding that “it makes us feel liberated and empowered.”
  • “A lot of our heroes are Black rappers and not just the aesthetic but their mindset on overcoming the odds and being goal oriented without caring what other ppl [sic] think and who might doubt you,” he said. “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.”
  • He also brought up instances of Black artists incorporating elements of Asian cultures. “If the Migos want to wear Chinese attire in a song called ‘Stir Fry’ kunfu [sic] themed, and that’s what made them feel good at the time, all good! If Nicki wanted to look oriental in a song called ‘Chun-Li’ and that’s what made her feel sexy…why not?” he said.
  • The 34-year-old musician also related the way he adopted the looks and hairstyles of Black people to those “[fangirling] over young Korean dudes with dyed hair,” before admitting that his PR representative had “told us not to post this video.” However, he said that he wanted to “showcase” the Korean hip-hop culture and “address it to the best of my ability.”
  • He then shared a clip of him performing a freestyle about Black and Asian race relations from his 2018 appearance on SiriusXM show, “Sway in the Morning.”

  • Fans further criticized Park, with many calling the posts a “non-apology.”

Featured Image via @jparkitrighthere

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