Uzuhan [oozoo - hahn]: a Korean word for excellence. A symbol for forward movement. A statement of upward progression. A landmark for breakthrough growth.
Uzuhan: James Han. An Atlanta-based hip-hop artist who captures space with a captivating energy and dresses the ordinary with upbeat distinction.
His latest release, the Uzuhan series, is a collection of three flights that mark a new phase of artistry for the rapper. It celebrates the artist’s identity as a Korean-American while creating a genre that mixes hip-hop, jazz, and R&B-inspired melodies -- beats intended for some serious dancing and grooving.
Han's expedition begins in a blue-collar suburb of Maryland, where he learned what it meant to be strikingly different. “I remember being afraid to bring my kimchi to the lunch room because of all the glares and questions I’d get,” he reminisces with amusement. Even at a young age, James knew his story was different than most. As the son of Korean immigrants who knew only of survival through the blood, sweat, and tears manifested in a homegrown dry cleaning business, there had never been a golden path to musical stardom carved out for him. But what he did have was a television set: the portal into the beginnings of his intrigue with art and creativity. "I used to just stare at the TV and draw every cartoon I saw on the screen, things like Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z.”
His craving for creativity carried on into middle school, where he began to explore hip-hop as a means for self-expression. With his identity already being tested and confused with questions of race and ethnicity, Uzuhan found solace in being newly redefined and repurposed by hip-hop. He quickly found, though, that this new solace was a severe disappointment in its ability to fulfill, and over the course of his college years, Han's heart began to be slowly but definitively gripped by the hand of God.
These transformative beginnings as a Christian profoundly impacted his start as a musician. While a student at the University of Maryland, Uzuhan worked to obtain his degree in visual communications while also exploring the depth and purpose of music – particularly through the lens of a Christian worldview. “The more I created music, the more I began to realize how much bigger it was than just myself,” he explains while describing his built-in role as a spokesperson for both the faith community as well as the Asian community at large. “I really began to have a desire to speak for people who had been in my situation, who needed encouragement.”
Now, he has built a sound riddled with elements inspired by Nujabes, Stevie Wonder, and Kanye West, roped in by his thoughtfully crafted words. Uzuhan emphasizes the art of creating lyrics around the everyday and mundane, bringing a fresh perspective on what everyone has in common. In this, he fashions music that resonates in its relatability, building an international following that has led to tours in Japan and Korea within only three years of starting his solo career as a recording artist. Han has collaborated with artists like John Givez (Dream Junkies) and S.O. (Lamp Mode Recordings), quickly building his repertoire as an artist, and with such energy and enthusiasm, he continually pushes forward and upward, creatively composing his vision and purpose, celebrating what he sees as beautiful in both this life and beyond.