For many tuned in to the Asian American hip hop scene, Jonathan Park aka Dumbfoundead has been a perennial favorite. A rising talent out of Koreatown in Los Angeles, DFD endeared himself to many as a talented lyricist and battle rapper. Dumb’s first few projects, Fun With Dumb and DFD brought him national acclaim, and cemented him as a favorite of many. Dumbfoundead has always stayed incredibly grounded throughout his career. A humble performer with a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity he has been presented, his music always includes a nod to his hometown and stylistic roots.
In 2014 Dumbfoundead released Old Boy Jon, a stellar album that he distributed for free on the heels of success of his previous album Take the Stares. Now, Dumbfoundead is finally back. After two years of teasing a new project, name changes, tours, singles, and going viral via the video for “Safe,” Dumbfoundead has returned with a super new project, We Might Die.
We Might Die features ten new tracks including the previously released “Safe,” “Harambe,” and “Banned in the Motherland.” All ten tracks feature Dumbfoundeads special blend of talented turns of phrase with catchy deliveries. Special features come fellow Korean-American fan favorite Jay Park, longtime Dumbfoundead collaborator Nocando, and Bay Area renegade Too $hort. Dumb and co. spit over talented production from various artists including wavemakers BrandUn DeShay, Getter, Josh Pan and many more.
The album is different from anything we’ve previously heard from Dumbfoundead. Stylistically, Dumb seems to have picked up a lot of new verve and energy during the last two years. “Banned in the Motherland” showcases a recent development in Dumb’s music: his ability to fluidly switch between English and Korean rapping. Frequent collaborations and running with Korean grime legend Keith Ape may account for this, but, much like all things Dumbfoundead, Jon has given it his own flavor.
Dumbfoundead describes his new mixtape as a reflection of the world.
The youth and older generation both feeling immortal while the world is crumbling down around us. I wanted to talk about living wild, death, and legacy on these tracks.
-Dumbfoundead announcing his tape to Complex
We Might Die rotates around this triad of themes: living, dying, and leaving an imprint. The tape is as much a demonstration of his artistic growth as it is a celebration of his youth and his roots. “All In” and “Ancestors” are reminiscent of his older music; “24KTWN,” “Korean Jesus,” or “Cool and Calm” come to mind as Dumbfoundead reflects on his growing out of his hometown. “Harambe” and “Safe” are much more layered tracks than they appear on first listen, and are worth a few run-throughs to break down. Attacking the structures that are erected against Asian Americans in both the hip hop industry and larger world, Dumb turns once again to astute, perceptive lyrics and catchy hooks. Among other stand-out tracks are the titular “We Might Die” and “Hold Me Down,” which are provide the polish and flourish that we have grown accustomed to from the Korea Town hero.
“Murals,” for which Dumbfoundead recently debuted a set of visuals, is, for me, the most succint convergence of this trinity of themes. Dumbfoundead raps identity, his personal history, and the legacy he hopes to leave on his community, saying “When I die, I’m a god, paint me large, on the wall.” Dumb makes reference to a mural painted of him on the wall of a liquor store, figuratively and literally leaving an imprint on his neighborhood
Dumbfoundead’s new project sees him hit the ground running after a quieter period in his career. The tape is a combination of the older skills in Dumbfoundeads repertoire that he leaned on during his rise to popularity, and newer developments that have kept him at the fore of the minds of many. The popularity of We Might Die bodes well for fans of Dumbfoundead. Dumb announced the tape along with a line of merchandise available for purchase, and recently released tour dates and a music video (above) for “Murals.” Check out the full album for free below on Spotify or Soundcloud.