jay kim | Artist Highlight #01

jay kim | Artist Highlight #01

  • Name: Jay Kim
  • Birth Date: 1998/11/17
  • Status: Rappeur, Compositeur
  • Genres : HipHop, Trap, Emo Rap, Hyperpop

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Presentation Video

The Artist Highlight is a new video concept aiming to promote rising artists that are certainly going to play a big part in tomorrow’s music scene!

The following article is nothing else than a transcript of the video above which is itself based on the interview jay kim kindly gave me. you can find it here! All the quotes in this article are from this interview.

English, Indonesian, and French subtitles are available for this video!


First time I heard about Jay Kim was probably in 2018 thanks to the Youtube Channel Undergrnd Seoul, at that time he was known as JAY2THEKIM, and what struck me pretty much immediately was how this artist really had his own vibe.

3 years have passed now and I think I’ve never been more right than that day. Ever growing artist, with every new track Jay Kim shows how his mind is bustling with creativity, drawing inspiration here and there but never failing to create his very own sound!

From Daegu to North Carolina, how jay kim became passionate about music

Born on November 17th, 1998 in Daegu South Korea, Jay Kim spent his early years there until his family decided to move to the United States when he was 2 years old. They stayed in Maryland for about 5 years and then moved to North Carolina as he was  7. So he basically grew up in North Carolina, it’s his home but also where he discovered a true passion for music.

At the age of 9, he indeed attended a music program organized by his church over the summer, they could pick an instrument to learn and that’s how he started to play the guitar but how he also literally became obsessed with music.

From this point, he dedicated all his free time to guitar, like even when school started again he would come home, maybe do some homework and then play the guitar until he would go to sleep.

But with this event only, Jay Kim could have easily ended up in a rock band or something along the way, so there is actually another decisive event to take into account! 

We should all thank this one friend who, around the same time Jay Kim started to play the guitar, played Fireman from Lil Wayne’s The Carter II album on his Ipod as they were going on a field trip. 

So yeah, it’s thanks to this friend that he had his first taste of HipHop and that he fell in love with Lil Wayne’s music. 

Then from Lil Wayne, he started to listen to more and more artists like Kanye West or Kid Cudi while also listening to bands like Linkin Park, American Rejects, or Paramore.

Little did 10 years old Jay know that all these musical influences would blend together seamlessly and surface in the type of music he would end up creating years later. There is one thing he already sensed though, it’s that music was definitely gonna be the love of his life  

So that’s how at 10 he started to draw from many musical influences and got the intuition that music was gonna be the love of his life

 I was 10 years old, actively discovering HipHop and Punk Rock, and Punk Pop and all that and it’s just a big blend of influences that like jump started my love for music. But I would say like, definitely from around that age I became obsessed with music, like music is definitely, like I knew since I was 10 years old like, music is definitely the love of my life

jay kim for KHipHop Kvr | March 2021

The SoundCloud Adventure

Now how did he get on SoundCloud?

During his late Junior or early Senior year of high school, so around 2016, with some friends they started to freestyle for fun in the car. But one day they decided to record a song and to upload it on SoundCloud. Their crew was called HotBoxGang and from this, he started to release songs as JAY2THEKIM as well, things getting serious over 2017 with for instance the track loner.

Musical Evolution

So that’s pretty much how it all started for Jay Kim, now when it comes to his music, let’s say that he is the type of artist who is constantly working on the development of his own sound. To quote him, “I make what I like & what I like changes a lot“. And yeah he ain’t lying clearly!

To make things a little bit easier, there have been like 2 main shifts in his music, so kinda 3 main eras up to now.

The first era starts in 2017 and can be described as nocturnal Trap. At the time he was listening to a lot of RnB/Trap. To give you an idea Travis Scott was one of his biggest influences but he was also listening to artists like Partynextdoor, FRVRFRIDAY, or The Weeknd. 

So concretely, if you listen closely to the songs he released around this time, you will notice that the beats he used were for most of them pretty hazy. 

As for his flow, he was already quite versatile, going either for a sharp delivery, like on Badmood or switching to a more laidback ‘pace’ to the point some songs might give you some cloud rap vibes like on Wait

Then in 2019 with the release of tracks like Makeshift or seeing stars, in a way, his vibe kinda got more complex? Some beats were still quite nocturnal but he also started to go for brighter sonorities.  

This has been partly induced by the fact that he was listening to a lot of Emo Rap. Artists like XXXTentacion, iann dior, Lil Peep, tommy ice, Kevin Kazi, 909Memphis, steele11, or ppg casper to name a few. 

So you can notice the increasing use of beats based on electric guitar samples, like with the track dontspeaktome!, and more generally beats with a higher focus on melodies, the most telling example for this is probably seeing stars in which you can hear a harp or even a flute sample.

So this new era is characterized by a broader range of beats but it also stands out because it’s kinda over this period that he started to get more confident with his voice. 

Like he kinda started to stray away from the usual ways of rapping, to add more singing, something which has been increasingly getting popular with the rise of Emo Rap/Alternative Rock. And this clearly added a whole new dimension to his music.

The second shift happened over 2020. Last year Jay kinda rediscovered Pop music thanks to artists like blackbear, The Weeknd, or Dominic Fike and therefore that’s something you can directly feel in his music. Noises with its retro vibe, or tracks like on me or conversations which are clearly tinged with Pop/Rock sonorities.

Recently it seems that Hyperpop picked his interest, he appeared on a clearly addictive track by Yes Junior 24, so let’s see if he’ll explore this type of vibe even further!

So yeah, Jay Kim’s music is rich in influences, he doesn’t want to be labeled as a specific genre kind of artist, yet what’s super impressive, and also promising for the future, is how his musical color is still super distinctive.

As I told in the introduction, Jay Kim really has his own sound, I used to joke and say that At this point, ‘the genre is Jay Kim’, but to be honest I think I really mean it.

Creative Process

Let’s now talk about his creative process!

You know it now, Jay Kim is listening to music all the time and he has super wide tastes, but actually besides this Jay also listens to a lot of beats as well. 

During the interview he kindly gave me, he explained that when making a song, he has to hear the beat first, but he’s kinda picky especially when it comes to the melody which might have something to do with the fact that he is a guitarist.

(Well it’s also because as he said you can fix trash drums, while for a melody..)

So every day he is going through beats until he finds one to his liking. Then he finds the BPM, (so the beats per minute and the key, and from this, he starts recording.

Usually, he just starts freestyling, and after 2 or 3 freestyles he tries to turn it into words and keeps the catchiest parts.

As for his lyrics, most are based on his own life experiences, but he is also drawing inspiration from what the people he knows have been through, as well as from Movies, his all-time favorite is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind starring Jim Carrey, but also from anime, which makes sense since he watches anime a lot, and when I say a lot it’s really a lot.

So yeah basically he will watch movies and anime and try to create a similar vibe with his lyrics.


I think now we can all agree that Jay Kim is as ambitious as he is hardworking like he is ambitious but he works for it.

So his short-term goal is obviously to put out more music and to keep getting better. This involves working on how to manipulate his voice, but also on improving his producing skills. Like he produces a bit already, have been producing since he started making music actually but that’s not something he really focused on either. However, getting better at producing also means more creative freedom so yeah that’s typically not something he wants to neglect.

Now you might have noticed I didn’t share MVs, and that’s because he wants to find the right team to start such a project. He kinda has something grandiose in mind, he definitely wants the production quality of his first MV to be high, probably something in a movie-like atmosphere.


As for the collaborations if you are up to what’s going up on the Korean Underground scene then you might have already heard him with EFFIE, Dayrick, Flavordash, hevel, and Yes Junior 24, So he would like to keep on making collabs with his music friends but he also wanna work with ksmartboi, Lil Kirby and Yaon.

Besides he would also like to work with tommy ice, ppg casper, glaive, ericdoa or brakence, and his dream dream collab is nothing else than Frank Ocean who is pretty much one of his favorite artists of all time.

But all projects aside, what matters the most for him is definitely to keep on having fun making music. 

If I make music and I’m not having fun I cannot do it. Like if I ever stop having fun making music I’ll probably just, I don’t know I will probably just move to a remote island somewhere.

jay kim for KHipHop Kvr | March 2021

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