Cruel Healing of Onani Master Kurosawa and Tasha Reid

September 16, 2009

I say we wake up from this dream and let the sunlight in So we can help each other heal the pain within

"Must be the reason why you never start to even lend a hand. Too caught up in your ways for you to try to understand. I say we wake up from this dream and let the sunlight in. So we can help each other heal the pain within." - Tasha, Memories

Reality can be harsh. Sometimes we lie to ourselves and pretend everything is ok. By doing so we betray and hurt ourselves. Of course, it’s possible to find your way and heal the wounds. But I never liked how mainstream movies sugar-coat its portrayal of this healing.

Take a popular Korean romantic comedy 100 Pounds Beauty for example. A pop idol lies to the public about having a plastic surgery done, eventually distancing herself away from friends and becoming everything she once hated. When she finally confesses to lying about her plastic surgery, she is greeted with encouragement from her fans, followed by a typically happy and romantic ending with that comforting sense of “everything is perfect now”.

I’m glad that’s not the kind of warm reception Kurosawa first got when he finally confessed to the class. Because the truth is that healing a scar takes time and there is no avoiding the pain. Like Lebbeus Woods once said, “healing is not an illusory or cosmetic process”. You must endure the pain. 

So there you have it my whole life with all its memories
I’m trying to figure out, how to set all of my pain free
Sometimes I wish that I can turn the hands of time back, so I could
Rewrite the wrong and put my life back on the right track

Wake up to reality, trying to accept the way it is
They say that life’s not what you take, it’s your willingness to give
That’s why I wrote this song in hopes to heal the pain within
Cause after that I know that’s when my life truly begins

– Tasha, memories


So, I guess I wanted Onani Master Kurosawa as a lead in to my post on one of my favourite musicians. Tasha Reid (aka 윤미래, Yoon Mi-rae, Baby T, T) is a female half Korean/Black hip hop artist who is accepted by both minor and mainstream fans as the best Korean rapper. She’s also received well by international fans due to her fluency in English. If I had to name one significant trait of her songs, it is how she’s trying to heal herself.

She was once tried for drugs usage, just like several other hip hop artists at that time. It is generally accepted now by people that she was framed by those up in music industry and politics, who didn’t want the conservative society and music industry to be affected by their messages and unconventional styles. When she released her second album Gemini (which I think is brilliant) one year later, her previous record label sued her for tarnishing their reptutation by blaming her drugs incident one year ago. Eventually she disappeared from the music scene for 4 years, until she came back with another brilliant album Yoonmirae. Included in this album is the song Black Happiness, where she confesses to having had to put heavy make up to hide her black skin, and now proud to sing as a half korean/black.

In many ways, her songs are about fighting to find yourself in reality, and no longer indulging in comforting memories of the past and lies. Her words are biting and real, not comforting lies. Images she evoke are visceral, not dreamy illusions. She’s a fighter who survived against the corrupt politicians and industry, as well as people’s conservative and stereotypical perceptions, and risen to the top as Korea’s best rapper. So in her own words,

Hands up put’em high don’t let your gun cry

Don’t you put’em down low don’t let your passion die

~~

Black Happiness subbed in English.

~~

Soul Flower subbed in English.

~~

Tears flow at knowing the truth

That the love I believed was eternal

Has stolen my heart and deceived my eyes

~~

Ima pour all my pain on to da microphone

Cause the real self is that much more beautiful

And I become as strong as it is painful

~~

The original Korean version of Memories.

~~

=)

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13 Responses to “Cruel Healing of Onani Master Kurosawa and Tasha Reid”


  1. I’m no good as an appreciator of hip hop, as I remain uneducated re recent developments in the style and genre, so I can’t really comment on Tasha.

    However, I do get what you mean about non-miraculous healing. It’s slow and painful, especially if it involves a public face. OMK handled this splendidly I think. I can only wish the Macross Frontier movie do something like this for a pet character of mine.

  2. animekritik Says:

    half-korean half-black, i can’t even fathom the string of difficulties she must have faced. and if she ever relocated to california, jesus. civil war in one body.

  3. Shadowmage Says:

    Like ghostlightning, I am no fan of hip hop, but I do like the message of Tasha’s songs.

  4. gaguri Says:

    @ghostlightning

    I haven’t watched Macross Frontier or the movie, but I can imagine how a mainstream show like that would handle it. Creators tend to avoid being too bold, and instead give what the audience wants to see.

    @animekritik

    Yea, it must have been hard for her ;_;. Good thing is that her name has become synonymous with ‘quality’, and she is loved by all fans of music. Good things will come to those who fights for it, even if it takes some time!

    @Shadowmage

    Oh well, I hope you liked her songs as well, not just her messages. I guess anime fans and hip hop don’t exactly mix well together.

  5. redmaigo Says:

    I love me some T! It is really nice to see someone bring up Miss Natasha Reid. I fell in love with her music a couple of years ago.

    Late to the party I know.

    There was a station in Toronto that played a lot of her music back in the day. It made me seek out her music. I even went back to her old Tashannie days!

    What sealed the deal for me was the the single 잊었니 from the Yoonmirae album. Its one of the few pop songs that hit me like a blow to the chest.

    Imagine that, a silly little break up song.

    The emotion and pain in 잊었니 transcends language, tastes or genres. Do a search on Youtube for it. I recommend viewing the video instead of the live version though.

  6. 2DT Says:

    I remember listening to some Tasha in my college days. She’s quite talented.

    The tricky thing is that her trauma is essentially impossible to heal. That skin isn’t changing, and even if she moves out of Korea, the question of “what are you?” will haunt her for life. But I guess in this case, the admirable thing is the process– the decision to become better, even if it’s never fully realized.

  7. gaguri Says:

    @redmaigo

    Somebody in that Toronto station must have really loved T to play such an obscure (in US I suppose) artist’s songs so frequently. Anyway, glad to see more international fans of her!

    @2DT

    Oh she’s more than talented…her voice has teh SOUL and FLOW~

    I think her situation has gotten a lot better though. She has achieved great things, and people will see her for her talents and not skin. Besides, she is now married and has a son with the hip hop legend of Korea (drunken tiger).

    Looking at her more recent ballad-oriented album and comparing that to her old biting and spitting hip hop album (gemini), some would attribute that to her improved life style (plus the fact that she’s trying different genres and reinventing herself). Even her come back album (T) that had hip hop tracks were rapped in a feeling more of truimph than anger and sadness.

    The question is, where does she go from here. Will she ever find her old legendary form? If so, where will she find the hellish fire, when she’s having it pretty good with her family, fans and music industry so far? Of course, I wouldn’t mind her creating music of different colour, driven by more than rage and boldness.

  8. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    Somehow, I thought our mini-discussions on the subject of music would lead to a post like this. Lol. 😄 I think you know how I feel about T’s comeback album and my thoughts/feelings have not changed really. Funny how you bring up the movie since it does delve into a similar parallel of emptiness and lack of meaning that is so mainstream with the way it starts and finishes.

    On the other hand, one of the reasons why T is the best female rapper with many a great song in her olden times is because of that true emotion and feeling recieved due to the raw reality of her material. Of course, it helped that she actually knew how to actually “rap” since new artists are so lacking in that ability these days.

    Looking past the article, I am still the guy living under a rock that believes 99% of the stuff touted by the media is bullshit. (As you can still imagine). Despite my new understanding behind some of the motivation(s) for the album’s flaws, the reinvention still has a ways to go before reaching a perfect marriage of styles. I would hope we may see something genius once more after one or two more albums to help her refine and tweak things.

    At least, so long as she is not going into YG Family territory then she ought to be fine. (G-Dragon is just so UGH)! I also hope she avoids the pitfalls Epik High still suffers from their ambitions which includes their newly released album. (Quality, not quantity guys).

    Regarding the actual subject, I think I will get back to it later. I already wrote a long-winded post as it is. Lol. Plus, I am not up for it after the frustration of said new Epik High album. (The second CD especially).

  9. gaguri Says:

    You’re spot on about why her old songs were so great. I genuinely think she has the best rapping voice in the industry, which includes international. I just love her voice…even when she were free style rapping with terrible beats in Korean variety shows, I loved it hehe. It’s a good thing that we can be sure she won’t be going to YG Family anytime soon…

    As for Epik High album, haven’t had a chance to aquire it, but from what you say I have no reason to anticipate much right :/

  10. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    Yeah, just keep your expectations low and the experience may be less painful. Personally, that album more or less reaffirmed that these guys need an album going back to the basics. The past few albums more or less allude to creativity not meaning much when the overall execution, focus, and direction is muddled in practice with results to show for it, Imo.

    On the actual topic itself, I think people don’t realize that there are cases that really are worse then whatever they have read or heard of in actual life since that is how it is in reality. Not everyone who is shit out luck (even from birth) can recover and heal no matter how much they fight since life is not fair to all. Plus, a lot of cases probably do come out unsung in the end since that is how harsh reality can be. If there was a lesson from the songs, it is the fact that these people and situations exist and can be harsher then what one can actually imagine no matter where it is.

    On a lighter note, more angry shit and less fluffy shit music-wise. Lol. After viewing a few Chinese variety shows on this one bus trip to Canada, I never watched them ever again as they mortify me with their crappiness. Thankfully, I will never understand the phenomenon on the popularity of these things. Ignorance is truly bliss. 😄

  11. gaguri Says:

    Haha, I think it’s safe to say Epik High has set their path to mainstream rather than creativity. Tablo downright admit that in several variety shows. There was this one variety show where Tablo talked about how their group was nearly disbanded because Dj 2-cut didn’t like how Tablo’s songs were too mainstream. Lol but when the paycheck came, 2-cut got down to his knees and called Tablo his saviour…I also remember this one song of theirs, where he rapped “they are just jealous because we’re the only ones to fly, and not crash and burn with them”, criticising other hip hop artists who see Epik High as selling themselves at the cost of their integrity.

  12. Flash Sword Ireen Says:

    Man, ignorance really is bliss. Lol. 😄 Still, those comments don’t really help since the music reflects the sentiment perfectly. While I won’t use the cruel label of “The Second Coming of Joosuc,” these future 2 CD projects don’t necessarily sound so promising if that is really the attitude behind it. Tukutz, where is that street cred dude? Haha.

    Speaking of ignorance being bliss, not knowing that K-Music fans exist is like the very definition of this. Lol. But yeah, they really are the worst out there (rather extremist), especially in terms of bias and misuse of the term. I wonder how a great celeb like T can ever handle all of that? If she ever did a(n) (angry) song about the pain of dealing with that, it might be the best song ever. 😄

  13. gaguri Says:

    Tukutz is more or less epik high’s ‘manager’, revealed in one of the talk shows =) (driving their cars, setting up schedules…)


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