AMP is the intersection of melody and hip-hop, the manifestation of the Christian and his heart, the Korean-American aesthetic in musical form, and the outworking of a movement engaging culture. AMP is, by its very definition, an amplifier of all things good and true. Their most recent release, Glory Songs (Deluxe Edition), lifts praise to God through theologically saturated rhymes, elements of corporate worship music, and a meld of musical genres. As a remastered and extended edition of their sophomore album, it is small thank you to the fans, and a milestone marker for AMP’s five-year anniversary.
Comprised of CL, J. Han, and Sam Ock, the group was pieced together through a series of providential coincidences. First, in 2009, Sam saw potential in a silly Facebook video of James rapping; then, James discovered CL’s rap ministry through a church performance, and like a firecracker anticipating its inevitable eruption, the three began to collaborate. They grouped up in Sam’s basement and fused their collective of ideas, unexpectedly climaxing in the creation of “Never Change” and “See You in Heaven,” with “Never Change” rapidly climbing to over 1.5 million views on YouTube. It was AMP’s first major hit, before AMP even knew it was AMP.
That same year, all three were invited to perform at a Chicago event as independent solo artists. The event hosts drove to Maryland to meet the performers for dinner, and, faithful to the group’s deep belief that great things happen over Korean barbeque, a transformative thought began to take root. The idea of the three solo artists banding together as an official group grew more appealing and relevant over the next few months, and in January 2010, AMP finally became a reality.
A speedy release of their freshman self-titled album followed in the summer of 2010, and with a welcomed response, AMP began touring across the United States, garnering a fervent grassroots following. With the release of their sophomore album, Glory Songs, in the summer of 2012, as well as their third release, Transition EP, AMP continued to gain recognition by winning the 2012 King’s Fest Talent Competition and the Creation Festival Indie East Stage Competition, both major Christian summer festivals on the East Coast. They have shared the stage with major recording artists like Trip Lee, Jimmy Needham, Jamie Grace, Tenth Avenue North, KJ-52, Starfield, and Flame, and they have toured nationally at major Asian-American Christian conferences such as JAMA, J-Gen, Grace Retreat, Synod, and SIMA. AMP is also known internationally; the group has toured through Korea and France, and they have built a following in countries like Japan, Australia, and Singapore. They are currently working on their third full-length LP.
AMP has expanded far beyond what J. Han, Sam Ock, and CL could have ever predicted or planned. But while their fanbase and reach unwaveringly grow, the three remain faithful still to the simple passions that had first connected them in Sam’s basement: words that carry weight, and souls that bear in faith. This is what AMP amplifies. They are a group whose expansion was built first on firm foundations, whose purpose was sought after with great intentionality, and whose success was discovered in enlarging the intersection of music and life. And because of just this, they amplify, with such strength and vigor, their good Lord Jesus Christ.