Just when you thought you knew Jay Park.
The US-born K-pop artist, predominantly known as a rapper, threw the world a curveball on Thursday, with the release of his day dreamy new R&B ballad “Sex Trip.”
Adding next to no rapping on the track, Park instead turns in a dazzlingly soulful performance over a beat that evokes both the West Coast sound of recent R&B innovators like Frank Ocean or Raphael Saadiq and South Korean underground artists like ILLAP or Pinodyne who have mined those sounds to great effect.
But that isn’t the only way Park is departing from his established persona on “Sex Trip.” Though he has consistently found chart-topping success with upbeat, positive dance anthems like “I Like To Party” or “Joah,” the sound on his latest single is closer to the early morning melancholy evoked on recent singles by Korean indie pop innovators KOHO and Xin Seha.
The psychedelic ’60s sound of “Sex Trip” also acknowledges the seismic changes in black dance music over the last six months, with landmark albums by D’Angelo and Kendrick Lemar changing the look and blowing up the played-out formulas of R&B and rap.
Anyone whose main experience with Jay Park is as the guy waving his arms in the “Joah” video is in for a serious shock.
This is clearly an artist with a deeper well of talent than just that of a pop hitmaker and perhaps most importantly one that’s not afraid to take chances.
While repeated hooks like “your ass will go up and your face will go down,” probably don’t exude romance or gender equality for many listeners, the sexy subject matter and cutting edge dance sounds are reminiscent of another American-born vocalist, Justin Timberlake.
Only time will tell if JP will reach JT’s level of pop royalty, but he is clearly at his best when he is willing to throw away his persona for something entirely new and unique.
Watch the music video for “Sex Trip,” the latest single by Jay Park, RIGHT HERE