Drunken Tiger

Drunken Tiger

 Seoul, Seoul, KOR
BandHip Hop

Take the gloves off and step into the ring with Korea's most influential, controversial, cutting edge hip-hop artist of all-time -- Drunken Tiger



Just back from a week-long spell in the hospital and able to take a break from his schedule, it is late on a Friday night just before Christmas that I get the keenly awaited call from Tiger JK.

Its 6am, he says sounding tired but upbeat. I didnt sleep to make sure I could call you. Is it is a good time?

For anyone who does not yet know who he is, Tiger JK (Jung-Kwon Suh) is the front man for Drunken Tiger. Often referred to as the Godfather of Korean Hip-Hop, he was first noticed in LA at a show aimed to promote racial harmony that took place just after the riots of 1992. It wasnt until 1999 however that the line up of JK, DJ Shine, DJ Jhig, Mickie and Roscoe became Drunken Tiger and the first album The Great Rebirth was dropped, breaking the mold of coordinated dances, make-up and matching outfits that was the trend. It was not an easy road to travel, but after a few changes in the line-up, Tiger JK released 6 albums altogether, gaining in popularity and respect.

After 7 years with DoReMi Records, Tiger JK formed Jungle Entertainment his own label for people with the common goal to finally get to make the music they want to make. Then, right when he had an opportunity to really do things his own way, he got sick and was out for two years - constantly hospitalized with myelitis, an inflammation of the spine that disrupts nerve signals and can lead to paralysis and permanent disability.

I was in a really dark place.
The doctors told him his career was over, that he should go home and rest, forget about doing much else. His weight ballooned by 30 pounds because of the steroids and pills he had to take, and it reached the point where he was not recognized and was even discriminated against. He too thought it was all over until one day he saw the light and went against doctors advice, exercising to reduce his weight back down to normal. It was from this dark place that the concept for his 7th album was born.

Sky Is the Limit is truly a personal album, the first released on his own Jungle Entertainment label, and while the title is, as he admits, a touch clich, it is the only one that fits the concept of the album and what he hoped to achieve with it. He wanted to take a break from the expectations fans had of him and to be free to express himself musically once more, much like he had done at the start of his career. It represents his hopes and dreams, that there should be no limit on what he can do or want to achieve despite whatever setbacks life and his health throw at him.

So, if fans thought JK would reappear with an up-to-date modern sound, they would have been wrong. Instead, he stripped hip-hop down to its roots once more, looking back to the 90s when the sound was young and fresh and exciting, a time when it was inspirational and fun. I had been ambitious to change the scene, make a difference. The attitude was there and the lyrics, but the music wasnt.

He always enjoys the creative process, able to forget the world and lose himself in the task at hand, but coming from such a dark place, the more he worked on the album, the more personal it became. Regarding himself as a modern day Pansori, a musical storyteller, the songs tell of scenes and chapters of his life, each one intertwining like parts of a movie. Mutant, the second track on the album, is a good example of this part-inspired by the movie The Host, it represents the toxins he felt had been injected into his life how the steroids and pills made him feel and how different to others his Myelitis made him feel.

Its not the first time that he has been inspired by movies; Old Boy was one that formed the basis for a music video from the 5th album. At the start of the interview too, he mentioned how he wanted to create the same feel as Taxi Driver, that starred Robert De Niro, to echo the simplistic style of that era. Films of course are not the only influence on this album.

Fights are my alarm clock
The roots of hip-hop lie in life in the American ghettos, a way of communicating the situation they were in and to talk about the world they were living in. Living just outside of Seoul, the ghettos of America are a far distance away and the projects near the army base are not the glamorous life of a celebrity. A glamorous lifestyle is not one he wants though, in case it would get him to lose touch with his musical roots and sell out to commercial success. As the album progressed, JK found that the music he was creating was relating to his immediate environment more and to the lives and stories of the neighbors he socializes with. To his neighbors, he is not a celebrity, and I get the impression that makes him happy.


- Sky Is The Limit (2007)
- 1945 Independence (2005)
- One Is Not A Lonely Word (2004)
- Foundation (2003)
- The Legend Of...(2001)
- The Great Rebirth (2000)
- Year Of The Tiger (1999)

- Condition of Happiness (2007)
- 8:45 Heaven (2007)
- Love Song That Won't Get Banned (2005)
- Isolated Ones, Left Foot Forward! (2005)
- Convenience Store (2004)
- Singer Wannabe/Liquor Shots (2004)
- Thumb (2003)
- Because I'm A Man (2003)
- Is Ack Hizay (2001)
- Good Life (2001)
- The Great Rebirth (2000)
- Do You Know Hip-Hop? (1999)
- I Want You (1999)

Set List

60min - 90min

Collection of Drunken Tiger's greatest hits (set list flexible depending venue, event, special guest singers/rappers) -- song mix of English/Korean

Drunken Tiger scheduled to release 9th album in September 2008