Rapper-singer Jessi always tries to be herself

SEOUL-- Jessi, a Korean-American rapper-singer and entertainer known for her bad girl image, on Wednesday released "Zoom," her first digital single since "Cold Blooded" last October.

"I'm grateful that Korea loves me, which makes me pay more attention to it," she said during an online press conference held in Seoul a few hours before the release.

She originally debuted in 2005 with the single "Get Up" under the name Jessica H.O. but failed to gain attention. After a yearslong hiatus, she returned to the K-pop scene as part of the hip-hop trio Lucky J until the group's disbandment in 2016.

She made her breakthrough on Mnet's all-female hip-hop competition program "Unpretty Rapstar" in 2015, with an in-your-face attitude that was previously uncommon on Korean entertainment shows and her excellence as a rapper. She has since recorded hits such as "Nunu Nana" (2020) and "Don't Touch Me" (2020).

She has also established a strong presence on TV variety shows, including MBC's "Hangout with Yoo" and tvN's "Sixth Sense," as well as her own web-based talk show "Jessi's Showterview," thanks to her magnetic personality.

The 33-year-old shared how she worked on the new song while struggling with a hectic schedule.

"I've been busy. I didn't take a break. I was on variety shows and shot commercials, and constantly there was something to do. This time (preparing for a new song) was the hardest for me."

But she was cool about it, saying "I did my best" and asking back, "Isn't everyone having a hard time anyway?"

As for her career as an entertainer, Jessi said she always tries to be herself on variety shows.

"I'm very noisy. But if I'm not, it gets edited out," she said, unveiling her know-how in TV variety shows.

"I make efforts to make people laugh, but I don't try to do so on purpose, because I'm a singer, not a comedian," she said. "I'm rather grateful that people laugh a lot at my natural self."

Her new song "Zoom" is about modern people who are glued to their smartphones.

The song's lyrics roughly translates to, "Zoom in, zoom out/ We all live to take pictures/ live to get attention."

"We cannot live without mobile phones. This is what this song is about," Jessi said.

The song also appears to be related to her life as a celebrity who cannot hide from cameras.

"I'm in the 18th year of my career as a singer, but I sometimes hope there is no spotlight and feel that I want to hide," she went on saying. "But the reality is I want the spotlight again when I live in hiding."

Asked about a goal she wants to achieve this year, Jessi wasted no time before answering that she badly wants to hold a concert.

"I'm itchy every day, because I haven't been able to perform at all due to COVID-19. My dream is to meet all the fans around the world at my concerts before I die."

Source: Yonhap News Agency