Last July, Korean-American rapper Jay Park, formerly a member of Korean boy band 2PM, surprised fans when it was announced that he signed up with Roc Nation, which was founded by rapper Jay Z.
The label is in charge of singers including Big Sean, Rihanna, J.Cole, Shakira, Damian Marley and T.I. Park said he isn't concerned about what will people say about his joining the label,.
"Me, being Asian-American, I was always looked at as an outsider. I always had to fight for my place," he told CNN.
He is preparing for his first Roc Nation album and will act as a judge on "Asia's Got Talent," which will air starting October 12.
Park lived with his parents in Seattle, Washington, and his mother's dream was for him to be a doctor or lawyer.
"That wasn't happening, because I was skipping school and going breakdancing," he revealed. He is a member of Art of Movement (AOM), a b-boying group.
Upon his mother's suggestion, he auditioned for JYP Entertainment in 2004, passed it and went to Korea in January 2005.
"I thought I'll go for a couple of years and help my family out. At that time, it was just me, and mom and my brother, having money problems. We couldn't pay the electric and water bill," he said of his decision to try out a K-pop career in Seoul. In South Korea, he faced difficulties.
"It was really hard to sacrifice my life in Seattle and do this thing I knew nothing about. It was a culture shock, the seniority system, the food and the way they did things. ... For me, it was a hobby and fun, but there, it was training, almost like a job, where you have to practice from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m," he said.
In 2009, his comments on MySpace offended Koreans that forced him to go back to Seattle.
"We parted ways, and I went back to Seattle ... It is what it is," he said.
While in Seattle, he uploaded on YouTube his version of B.o.B's hit "Nothin' on You" that became viral.
"I don't give up. I wasn't attached to the fame or the lifestyle ... The main point in the beginning was to support my family," he explained.
He returned to Korea in June 2010 and pursued a solo career ever since. He established his own label AOMG.
Park said being in a boy band didn't afford him much freedom.
"Me being in the system in a group with the company, I didn't have much to express myself. (Now) I finally have the freedom to do what I wanted to do," he said.
He announced that his Roc Nation album will be released next year. "They (Roc Nation) like the image I have now. I'm just me," he said.