Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Andrew Atwaters
Meet The Hip-Hop Artist Making Waves In The Asian Music Scene
Andrew Atwaters hails from Gainesville, Florida. He has lived in Seoul, South Korea since 2014, working as an English instructor.
Atwaters, as he is known in the hip-hop music scene, has had the opportunity to perform throughout Asia. We spoke with him via email about his experience abroad.
TN: Why did you initially make the move abroad?
Atwaters: I always get asked this question. The idea of moving abroad was presented to me by a woman I was dating at the time. I graduated with a degree in English from the University of South Florida but wasn’t sure of my next move in life. When I heard about teaching opportunities overseas, I acted off impulse, and I can say it was the best decision that I’ve made. The novelty of everything seemed so intriguing. I saw it as a chance to start a new path in life.
TN: Why did you choose Asia of all places?
Atwaters: In college, I used to tell my friends that I was going to move to Asia one day. Only then, it was just jokes. It was years later when I actually attempted to pursue the move. I’ve always wanted to learn about other cultures and get a first-hand experience. I feel like knowing more about others will also help me learn a lot about myself. I picked Asia because I already had two friends living there and my fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, has a chapter there. I knew I would be OK.
TN: How did you break into the hip hop scene in Asia?
Atwaters: Within one week of moving to South Korea, I met up with one of my frat brothers (Jack Zilla) and he took me to my first hip-hop event in Korea. Within two weeks I had my first show in Seoul at SouthSide Parlor. Later that year, I started to host my own shows in Daejeon where I would invite foreign and native hip-hop artists to perform under the same roof so everyone could network. I continued recording, performing, and releasing music videos.
I would go out to meet as many artists, DJs, promoters, videographers, graphic designers as possible. Through performances, being at events, networking, and releasing content, I’ve been able to perform in Hong Kong, The Philippines, Japan, and Thailand. It’s really about how visible you are but most importantly, the relationships you build.
TN: Tell us about Asian hip-hop culture in comparison to America?
Atwaters: The U.S. has a much stronger underground scene. If an artist is talented and can promote himself well, they can develop a following. Korea’s underground scene is still maturing. It is much harder to build a following here.
TN: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a Black artist in Asia?
Atwaters: From the fan side, none. I feel like Koreans look up to Black hip-hop artists. Commercially, it is difficult because of the language barrier. It’s really difficult to resonate with people if you are not delivering content in their language; especially as an up and coming artist. If you are already famous, then there’s no issue.
TN: Tell us about your dopest moment so far?
Atwaters: My dopest moment would have to be the first time I performed in the Philippines. I went out there with my boy, DJ Juise, and it was literally a movie. They had my face on a huge poster. Everyone just wanted to party and take pictures. The place was packed to capacity and the energy in the club was just amazing. Japan and Thailand were also amazing places to perform in as well, but I think the first time experience just set the bar!
TN: Where can we find you online?