KX Festival LA is a grassroots Los Angeles festival supporting local food, culture, art, and artists. Every year they show their support for Koreatown and for the people of color who thrive in this community. So when they announced that not only would Cha Cha Malone, Jarv Dee, and Phe Reds be performing at McArthur Park, but they’d also be doing a full on meet and greet, I reached out to shoot the show.
I mainly wanted to show some love, not only to KXFESTLA for their work with the community, but to H1GHR MUSIC for their continued support in diversifying hip-hop. They’re taking not only Korean hip-hop to the next level, but equalizing the playing field for both Korean and American hip-hop artists. The significant uphill battle that Asian and Asian-American artists face in hip-hop is something that I think pushes me to root for their success and strive to support them in the small ways that I can.
The show boasted local celebs like Jinu Park and Justin Park, both rising stars who’ve dedicated years as Asian-American artists grinding to bring us better music and strong representation. Both of these men have a dedicated fanbase who showed up strong in the crowd on this warm Saturday night.
Jinu Park is a multilingual artist who steps out of bounds and performs in English and Spanish, showing love to the ecclectic sounds of his background. With tracks like “Confident“, “Freak (Feat. Cha Cha Malone)“, and “Las Sombras Desvanecen (Shadows Fade)“, he’s making waves and drawing all of the attention. Hailing from Seattle, the man has made LA his home. Keep your eyes on him. He’s got a lot to give.
Justin Park is the new threat to every R&B singer out there. He’s on some next level shit. Not only does he have a sweet, lilting voice that makes your toes curl, but he’s a dancer that burns tracks into the floor with every hot move he makes. His recent collaboration with Amber, “XL Uber“, caught the attention of media outlets everywhere and went viral with it’s smooth sound. His fans are hardcore, with a dedication that could rival any major K-pop fandom.
Sammy Sam of Public Enemy stepped on stage and I damn near lost my mind. He hyped the crowd with his presence alone and introduced H1GHR MUSIC to the stage.
H1GHR MUSIC continued the R&B vibe with the incredibly sensual Phe Reds. Every time I see this man live, he gives me chills. There’s just something about him. The way he cradles the mic in his hands, the way he croons. Like I finally understand why my abuelita was totally hung up on Frank Sinatra. He exudes vintage sexy with a jazzy sound and a look like he’s just permanently on vacation in some tropical locale. He’s just so inviting. Among other sexy tracks, he sang “Smile“, which was his H1GHR MUSIC debut and featured Woogie. I had to fan myself.
The entire atmosphere changed as we rolled into rap with Jarv Dee. I still stand by my words. Jarv Dee is my favorite rapper on H1GHR MUSIC. His personality just pours out of his music and I can’t even be mad at that. He’s relatable and funny. He’s not afraid to dig deep and shows so much love for his hood. He’s engaging and hypes the crowd like crazy. The man is wild. He performed a barrage of tracks like “Seattle To Seoul“, “We Go H1GHR“, and “Foreign Xchange (Feat. SIK-K)“, and he definitely brought the heat. We were given such a surprising treat as he performed “Playing” as well, bringing out the absolutely amazing Gifted Gab, who reminds me so much of Yoon Mi Rae it’s wild.
Finally, Cha Cha Malone stepped on stage. The first time I saw him on stage was at SXSW, then I saw him again on the H1GHR MUSIC tour. It was like watching the transformation, a shy quiet man standing back on the stage becoming this dominant charismatic creature wielding a mic. He performed a laundry list of songs, none of which I have names for because we were treated to a live performance of his upcoming EP. I can tell you this, the man is packing an arsenal of bops that are ready to drop. I cannot wait! He performed to a crowd of screaming girls clamoring against the stage, showing a gradient of families mixed in, homies who showed up for a good times, and lovers curled up on blankets on the grass in true festival form.
After the show, the line for the meet and greet snaked around the back stage area toward the front, fans excited to meet their faves. Die-hards got their ‘I NEED A CHA CHA BEAT BOY’ hats and jackets signed, one fan getting their chest signed in prep for tattoos, another telling Cha Cha she walked down the aisle to “Joah” (produced by him) at her wedding; his jaw dropping in shock before thanking her.
Cha Cha Malone made it very clear while talking with us to expect that EP very soon. It’s gonna be fire.
Editor’s Note: Shout out to Yas as always for being my feet on the ground doing all the actual shit, but also for getting known, like with this credit from Cha Cha Malone himself.
Got to see and wear my new bomber jacket for the first time in LA. Thank you @deano_32 for the amazing work. It is perfection. Best one we’ve done yet, hands down. We only have a few more available! Http://Chachabeatboy.bigcartel.com (Link in my bio) | Shoutout to 📸 @angryempanada for the photos #ineedachachabeatboy #aomg #h1ghrmusic #PixP #bomberJacket