Justin Park loves music down to the core, here to remind folks you don’t need to be bound by any one genre. Born and raised in Los Angeles, with roots from all parts of the city, the rising star creates music from the heart and soul, with lyrics inspired by real-life experiences we can all relate to.
With his smooth and sultry voice, the Korean-American singer-songwriter not only has what it takes to make it to the big leagues, but carries a charismatic spirit that fans can’t help but gravitate toward.
In describing himself, he states, “I’m a ball of friendly energy. I’m very optimistic, I like to smile a lot, I like to care for people. I like to show them my love and gratitude, especially those who work with me. That’s what it is, I live life happy as f###.”
Last year, Justin unleashed his critically-acclaimed single and visual for “Adore You, Dior You” featuring Ted Park, a beat that he reminds us came out well before BLXST’s “Movie.”
Fast forward to today, he returns with his newest release titled “MI VIDA,” drawing in Spanish influences that stem from his upbringing in the city of Angels.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Justin Park: My sound is one that’s evolving all of the time. I’m always influenced by anything. My creativity comes from all sorts of things: a conversation with somebody, overhearing a conversation, looking at someone’s clothes, at a piece of art, anything really. My sound changes everyday. I could do funk, pop, R&B, literally it’s whatever I feel like I want to do.
AllHipHop: What part of Los Angeles are you from?
Justin Park: LA LA, like right here. I was born in K-Town, went to Eagle Rock, then was raised in Pasadena. Came back to Koreatown, East LA, everywhere really.
AllHipHop: I saw somewhere that said you’re the Prince of K-Town?
Justin Park: Ha! [laughs] Prince of K-Town, I’ma have to get it trademarked one day, when I actually become the Prince of K-Town. Right now I say that because I walk around the city like I’ve never done before. I could walk into places where there’s a 2-hour wait. Even the restaurants, I’ll call ahead of time and they say “we have your seats right now.” If I need to entertain some people, oh Quarters. I hit them up and they say “oh we have your table already.” I walk into Terra Cotta like “oh wassup bro? Good to see you.” It’s dope.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up? I know you’re very diverse.
Justin Park: My biggest musical influences are Stevie Wonder, Bobby Caldwell, Luther Vandross, Usher, Tupac 100%, Biggie Smalls, Jay Z, Thundercat. A lot of them.
AllHipHop: When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
Justin Park: I was a junior in high school. At our school, we have our talent show. The talent show was really hard, people were doing flips and s### off of chairs. The drumline team had these little glow up things, you turn off the lights and you see these stick figures. All I did was sing a song and I got first place, I just remember the feeling I got from that. The auditorium erupted for that one song. From then on, I said I’ma choose music.
AllHipHop: How did your parents respond?
Justin Park: I just have my mom so it’s a lot easier. [laughs] Half the battle was already won. With my mom, it was a little tough because she wanted me in school. She graduated college. She was one of the first in our Asian family to graduate. She said it’s so important for us to go to college, give us more opportunities, da-da-da. But I didn’t want to. I don’t like school. I don’t like to study, I don’t like books. I chose music. She’s like “well, can’t do anything about it.” I’m really stubborn, so I do what I want.
AllHipHop: Justin Park is your real name. Any contenders for another artist name?
Justin Park: That’s funny because I’m thinking about it now a little bit. I was driving the other day like maybe I should change my name to one word. You know how Zain Malik is like Zayn, it looks cool. I was looking at my name on Spotify: Justin Park. It looks so generic. Something cool: maybe it’ll happen, maybe it won’t. Maybe simplicity’s good.
AllHipHop: You released “Adore You, Dior You” last year. Did someone inspire this record?
Justin Park: “Adore You, Dior You” is more inspired by an idea than a person. When we wrote the record, a few key important people were already using the term to take the place of the phrase “Wine and Dine”. Adore you Dior you is a way of saying, I appreciate my girl so much I’d go above and beyond to make her happy.
AllHipHop: Ted Park is your good friend, I’m sure that session was lit.
Justin Park: Yeah he’s my good friend, that’s the homie. It was so lit. That was my first session with Ted, and Big Banana too. He’s a big name, he does a lot of people’s music. That’s who did the beat. Funny story, BLXST literally took the same beat. The 808s, the kicks, everything’s the same. And the guitar sample! What? It’s called “Movie,” it’s literally the same song. Obviously their version’s a little bit different.
AllHipHop: How’d that happen?
Justin Park: That’s the thing with Splice, Spice is this thing that gets sampled. You know how sampling is. They didn’t even change the time rate. It’s not faster, it’s not any slower, it’s exactly the same. I was sad because they came out with it months after us. Our video did really well, I’m like f###.
AllHipHop: Is there anything you can do about that?
Justin Park: It’s just Splice, that’s how it is.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the video shoot?
Justin Park: The best memory was having all of my friends there. The cars were really nice, it was cool to drive in. It was a vibe.
AllHipHop: New single “Mi Vida” out now, how are you feeling?
Justin Park: The song for me is super catchy, the music video is a f###### movie. I produced, casted, directed that whole b####. Storyboarded it as well, it’s really good. With that, I wanted to get more opportunities for Netflix specials and movies. Because I’m with UTA, I wanted to show them since I produced, directed, and storyboarded this whole thing. I want you guys to know I’m in this. Everything, triple threat type s###.
AllHipHop: What’s the story behind the video?
Justin Park: “Mi Vida” is a story about a guy who falls in love at the wrong place wrong time, like the worst f###### place wrong time. He’s at a bar and he falls in love with a Latina girl who’s giving him hella I love you vibes too. They have this little romantic thing, then one of her security guards ends up calling her dad. He’s like “what? Who the f### is with who?” He pulls up, beats the f### out of me takes me, tortures me, then I escape with my homie Zane Taylor. The cartel’s chasing me, that’s the story. It’s crazy!
AllHipHop: Where did you get the Spanish influences?
Justin Park: Growing up, not having a father figure I’d be out of the house a lot. When I’d go to Koreatown, downtown, a lot of the Mexican older folks would take me in and take care of me. There was a time when I was working at the Downtown LA fashion district, packing boxes with clothes, and carrying heavy stuff. the fashion district in Downtown. Most of them are Mexicans: running the stores, working the stores. I’d be in the back boxing with them. Spending all day with them: drinking cervezas, talking s### and laughing. That’s how I grew up.
AllHipHop: What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Justin Park: I just want them to feel happy. I want them to look at the story and feel love and romance. This music video’s very sensual, so I want them to see the romance.
Justin’s music was recognized by Jungkook of BTS on Instagram, which led to his track, “On the Low” to trend on Melon (South Korea’s Largest Streaming App ).
AllHipHop: How’d it feel to get the co-sign from Jungkook of BTS?
Justin Park: That was dope! I wasn’t expecting it at all. When I got home that morning, it was 4am or 5am. Someone had Insta messaged me, one of the fans. I looked at it, opened it, and it was a screenshot of his twitter. I’m drunk, I’m like “wtf is this?” It had my name and everything, it had to be something.
But it looked like everything else that K-pop fans tag me in. I thought it’s probably some BTS fan, but it’s different. I see the verification symbol, so random: @abcdefg… I’m like “what is this?” They’re like “Jungkook from BTS posted you!” I’m like “no way!” I looked again like “NO.” I go to Twitter and the s###’s trending. It’s at 20K likes already. I’m like “whoa, what’s going on?”
AllHipHop: How did he catch wind of you, do you know?
Justin Park: I actually don’t know. Though, it’s not that crazy though because I’ve had other K-pop stars like Monsta X support my music or say they checked it out. I’m always super appreciative that my music is getting on their radar somehow.
AllHipHop: What do you make of these blessings?
Justin Park: Just God telling me I’m on the right path, to keep enjoying myself and work hard.
AllHipHop: You’ve done BTS covers before, that must’ve been completely full circle!
Justin Park: I think it was. Even crazier than that, I was a fan when they first came out. This was when I was in middle school years ago, they weren’t poppin’ like that. It was crazy. I really thought it was 360 because I was such a fan of them when they first came out. They were just different. They had this immaculate style that I really fell in love with. Now, they’re the biggest thing in the world. It gives me hope though because it’s small beginnings. They had a very small company and now look at where they’re at.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Justin Park: Hot water, maybe some alcohol. Some Propolis throat spray, I need to do it every so often. Some slides, that’s it.
AllHipHop: Do you feel in the music industry there’s not enough Asian representation?
Justin Park: I mean, obviously I’d say yes. There could be more representation, but we’re on the way there. I’m not worried. I’ma take care of it. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How was it performing at Terra Cotta Lounge Bar?
Justin Park: Dope, very nice. We packed it out, we sold out all of the seats. I’m going to be there soon for my single release.
AllHipHop: How’s it feel to have this hometown support?
Justin Park: Hometown support is amazing, obviously TerraCotta was packed out. Every time we do stuff here, everyone shows up. It’s a blessing. They really f### with us, I’m happy.
AllHipHop: Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Justin Park: Hell yeah, a lot of stuff. I’m trying to go to China. I’m trying to really be international. If you look at my analytics, I have fans everywhere. Mexico’s my second most popular demographic. That’s why we made “Mi Vida” as well. They taught me everything I know. I’m making a song to give homage to my city and the people who took care of me as a kid. There’s that, then I want to go to Korea. My third album hopefully is Korean, then I’ll come back to America.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Justin Park: Just my album coming out, I Can See The Stars From Here, hopefully in March. Single for “Mi Vida” is out now. I’m excited, everything will be coming out. Just telling the people I love them. [laughs]