This week on SBS PopAsia LIVE with Kevin Kim is shaping up to be a big one because our newly-minted host will be sitting down with a chat to Taiwanese music sensation, Miss Ko!
Miss Ko is a Taiwanese-American rapper/singer/songwriter hailing from Queens, New York, and she made the world sit up and take notice when she won Best New Artist at the 24th Annual Golden Melody Awards, an event that's considered to be the Grammy’s of Taiwan, becoming the first rapper to ever win the award.
Known for her unique ability to rap in both English and Chinese Mandarin, a skill she picked up while briefly studying Mandarin for a summer in Taiwan, Miss Ko’s debut album Knock Out, which emphasizes the importance of breaking stereotypes, reached #1 on local Billboard charts. Not only was the album crowned a top 10 album of the year, it managed to achieve much critical acclaim despite Miss Ko not being able to speak Mandarin fluently.
The path to success has been a non-conventional, yet inspiring journey for Ko. Growing up in New York City, she was exposed to hip-hop music and culture at a very young age. Before she could even talk, she was bouncing around on her babysitter’s couch to Kris Kross’ “Jump.” By high school, she knew how to sing and rap hundreds of songs, her favourite being Tupac’s “Changes.” Although Ko initially did not do well in school, after learning how to rhyme her coursework into a song, she began excelling academically and managed to graduate as valedictorian.
The rapper was leter discovered by Dela Chang after entering a local songwriting competition during her first semester in Mandarin school, and she subsequently signed with his label, Kao Inc. Records in 2012. After releasing two albums, "Knock Out" and "XXXIII," and fulfilling her contract in 2015, Ko decided to withdraw from the spotlight and move back to New York to pursue other interests. Despite taking a year off, her passion for songwriting did not wane and in 2016, Ko signed with Universal Music Taiwan.
Ko has since released her 3rd album, "Queen of Queens," a double entendre for her hometown and position as a female in a typically male-dominated industry, which hit #1 and remained there for several weeks on numerous music charts including Spotify and Apple Music.
The album also managed to spawn the hit singles “Queen of Queens” and “Till Next Time,” both of which showcase the journey Miss Ko has been on so far. The "Queen of Queens" music video was shot in two locations; in Queens, New York, which represents where Ko is originally from; and in Taipei, Taiwan, where Ko now resides interchangeably.
By contrast, “Till Next Time” is a song dedicated to Ko’s childhood friend John Tran, whose untimely death inspired her to turn her life around. Filmed on October 29, 2016, the 15th year anniversary of John’s passing, the music video features a gathering of mutual friends and family at Brooklyn Technical High School, where Ko and John both originally met.
With a sound and style entirely her own, Ko’s music has been widely received both locally and internationally. Not satisfied in simply adhering to catchy melodies and upbeat rhyme schemes, the rapper incorporates her own personal experiences without unnecessary filters, something that's showcased on her song “Let It Go” where she speaks out against domestic violence, offering support to those who need it.
In addition to her behind-the-scenes work, Ko's live performance profile continues to rise as she has beein invited to perform at various big-name music festivals around the world, including CMJ, Glastonbury and SXSW. With appearances in magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, and Vogue, and most recently, being chosen to be the face of Nike’s Kiss My Airs campaign, as well as collaborations with other major acts such as MC Hotdog, Khalil Fong and aMei. Ko is largely recognized as a modern trailblazer for women.
With her popularity continually on the rise, we'll definitely hear more from Miss Ko in the future so stay tuned for more from this bilingual rap sensation!
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