Jay Park Showcases His Rapping & Singing 'Evolution' on Strong Sophomore LP

Jay Park

The Seattle-bred star shines on hip-hop bangers, R&B ballads and, most notably, on his Michael Jackson-inspired new single.

At SXSW earlier this year, Jay Park declared he wanted to "switch people's perspective about K-pop" in 2014. The singer/rapper's long-awaited second LP Evolution finally arrived this week, proving to be a survey of where the Korean-American is as an artist. The 17-song set showcases his broadened musical scope and personal growth as the 27-year-old raps and sings about his "evolution" while exploring topic like success, love, heartbreak and the (usually-forbidden-in-K-pop) subject of sex. 

The album opens with "Evolution," a piano-laden, hip-hop track where Jay walks us through his struggles and overcoming them. As the "street dancer turned singer," Park is now positively boasting about weathering difficulties, proving his doubters wrong and making his parents proud.

The lead single "So Good," featuring Common Ground, is an obvious tribute to Michael Jackson, with a melody at times reminiscent to '80s single "P.Y.T." Park emulates MJ's signature ad-libs and grunts while gushing about how it feels "so good" to be with a girl. The song was put together by Park's longtime friend Cha Cha Malone with the artist co-writing. "So Good" is a nice step up from his similarly throwback 2013 track "Let's Make Up," which appears on the new LP in a remastered version. The "So Good" video continues the Michael tribute with Park rocking a red-leather jacket and nailing slick footwork choreography. 

Although the record contains a number of feel-good jams, the highlights come from the hard-hitting hip-hop pieces like "GGG," "Who the F--- Is You" and "1 Hunnit" with Jay thriving with his spitfire flow and charismatic rapping.

But Evolution proves Jay's got pipes too. R&B ballad "The Promise," a pre-release single ahead of the LP, spotlights his voice with its uncomplicated piano production. Park unleashes his uniquely shrill belting style on the bridge and brings impressive vocal runs on the track outro.

Today, Jay Park has transitioned away from his teen-idol stardom and successfully elevated into an edgy solo star. Once a leader of popular boy band 2PM, the Seattle native properly shredded his idol roots and proved his knack for producing, songwriting and, now, leading as CEO of independent label AOMG. Evolution, the first full-length put out by the company, serves as testament to his potential as a solo artist no longer defined as a "K-pop idol" while still remaining relevant and competitive within its scene.