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Jessi’s ‘Zoom’ looks into her 18-year life under spotlight

Jessi poses for pictures during the media showcase for her new single “Zoom,” Wednesday in Seoul. (P Nation)
Jessi poses for pictures during the media showcase for her new single “Zoom,” Wednesday in Seoul. (P Nation)
One of the busiest TV personalities in the Korean entertainment scene right now, singer and rapper Jessi has finally returned as a musician with her new single “Zoom.”

Ahead of dropping the digital single Wednesday afternoon, Jessi conducted an online media showcase in Seoul to give a peek into how the song came out.

Returning after six months with a new song, Jessi said, “I feel like it’s been much longer, but in terms of promoting my songs, it’s been around a year since ‘What Type of X.’”

The Korean American rapper’s first release of 2022, “Zoom” is a trap hip-hop tune that draws on the reality of people obsessing over capturing every moment on camera.

“The producing was done in no time. It took around two days to finish producing it,” she said, adding, “It’s a feel-good song, just as with all my other songs, and this one also comes with several parts that will make you hum along.”

She took part in writing the lyrics of “Zoom,” collaborating with Psy -- her label chief and the singer of the 2013 global megahit “Gangnam Style” -- as well as producer Bobblehead and rapper Yumdda.

“We all use smartphones these days, and the lyrics portray such reality that, with the advancement of technology, we’re now unable to live without cellphones. There’s a line that goes, ‘we all live to take pictures,’ which is kind of sad. It will be relatable,” Jessi said about the song’s message.

“It’s been almost 18 years since my debut, and living a life that is almost inseparable with cameras, I had never really thought about what the word ‘zoom’ could refer to. But now, it leads me to several thoughts,” Jessi said.

“As I’m often put under the spotlight, there are times when I want to escape and hide from it. But when I’m actually away from it, I suddenly want the attention back on me. It shows the reality that although we all want the attention, we can’t really say it out loud.”

“Zoom” deviates from the sound of the rapper’s previous hits, such as “Nunu Nana,” “What Type of X” and “Cold Blooded,” ringing out with a much softer sound and, in some parts, even mellow.

“As the song exudes a different aura from my previous pieces, I’m expecting it will be refreshing for those listeners who know me well. I’m also really looking forward to it.”

The star dance team, La Chica, created the choreography for “Zoom.”

Jessi repeatedly expressed hopes to perform live in front of an audience with the new release.

“I think the time is almost nearing,” she said, referring to the recent return of live music and concerts under the government’s alleviated social distancing guidelines, which have been continuing since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

“I haven’t had a concert since ‘Nunu Nana’ (in 2020) and I’m just dying to hold one. Performing in front of a camera and doing it in front of a live audience are just incomparable for me,” Jessi said. “My ultimate goal is to hold a concert with all my fans from around the world and meet every one of them.”

Hailing from New Jersey, Jessi stepped into the Korean music scene in 2005 with her debut single “Get Up,” under the name Jessica H.O. She was also part of hip-hop group Uptown from 2006 until 2009, after which she went on a short hiatus to focus on her studies. In 2015, she skyrocketed to stardom through Mnet’s female rapper competition “Unpretty Rapstar.”

Since then, Jessi has been churning out hits on end, with the music videos for “Nunu Nana” and “What Type of X,” racking up 160 million views and 65 million views on YouTube, respectively.

In recent years, Jessi has captured hearts across the country with her honest, funny personality.

“I’ve been really busy. I worked almost sleeplessly for this comeback,” Jessi said.

“I don’t there’s a secret to my popularity. I just try to be myself on the shows. Also, I’m really loud. They tend to cut me out when I’m not as loud. I just try my best to be the usual me, work hard and have fun,” the 33-year-old said.

Jessi hoped more than anything to stay healthy and happy with her comeback this time.

“After suffering from the coronavirus, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to maintain my physical stamina, and often at times, it feels burdensome to sing,” the artist said, adding she is working hard to improve her condition.

In closing the showcase, Jessi hoped to get recognition for her genuine, hard work.

“I want to be told that I’m doing great. I’m trying really hard every time, you know. Really hard. And hearing that I’m doing well is the best compliment for me.”

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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