Who is PSY?
Park Jae-Sang, known more popularly as PSY, is a South Korean rapper, singer, songwriter and music producer who achieved a gigantic international fame with his single ‘Gangnam Style’. The song went on to become one of the highest viewed songs ever on the video sharing website, YouTube. Apart from that, PSY has released 8 albums, and featured in many movies and TV shows. Born to a businessman father, PSY had no interest in following his father’s footsteps and was a popular ‘funny guy’ while in school. His love for making silly faces and dance steps was visible in the music video for his megahit song ‘Gangnam Style’ and its quirkiness and madness is the biggest reason for it receiving a cult status among the people all over the world. PSY studied music briefly in Berklee College of Music, Boston and dropped out without graduating. He returned back to South Korea in 2000 and arrived on the musical horizon with his first album ‘PSY from the Psycho World’ in 2001. He had a unique style to his music, which included a lot of ‘vulgarity’, according to Korean media. The allegations of obscenity threatened his image and career. He also got booked for possession and consumption of marijuana, which made him a slightly controversial figure in South Korean music scene. And then came ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012 and PSY crossed the national barriers to become an international celebrity.
Childhood & Early Life
Park Jae-Sang was born in Seoul, South Korea on 31st December 1977 to a well- settled businessman family to Kim Young-hee and Park Won-ho. His father is the executive chairman of a big MNC while his mother owns and operates a chain of restaurants.
PSY’s tryst with music started early while he was in school. While studying in Banpo elementary school, then Sehwa High School, his love for music grew deeper. He was known as the ‘class clown’, irritating every teacher but somehow, everybody was fond of him due to the energy he brought in the class.
While he was 15, he was introduced to the American pop music and just like that he was hooked to it. He discovered newer possibilities in music creation and decided to become a musician. He cites ‘Queen’ to be the biggest influence on him as a kid.
However enthused PSY was about his music career, his father wanted him to study business administration from Boston University, which he did for a brief period of time. He got bored of it and enrolled himself into the Berklee School of music where he learned some basics about creating music. He eventually got uninspired and came back to South Korea to officially start his career in music.
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The start to PSY’s music career was not that good as his first album ‘PSY from a Psycho World’, which got released in 2001, was fined by the Korean government due to ‘inappropriate content’. However criticized he was for his first attempt, it was a moderate success. He followed his first album with two more quick albums named ‘Sa 2’ and ‘3 PSY’ in 2002. His lyrics were panned for being too suggestive and ‘not a good influence’ for Korean youngsters, but that didn’t stop PSY from receiving accolades at the Seoul Music Awards.
In 2003, PSY took the necessary military training, mandatory for all South Korean men and was soon released due to his job profile as a software engineer. In 2006, PSY made a comeback with his next studio album titled ‘Ssajib’, which later turned out to be a critically and commercially successful album. The album received honours at SBS Music Awards and the Asian Music Awards.
In 2007, PSY was redrafted to finish his military service due to some issues at the workplace and served the military for two straight years after that, before he was finally released off his duties in July 2009. In 2010, Korea’s biggest entertainment label, YG entertainment signed him on and his fifth studio album came out in the same year, titled ‘PSY 5’. However, the troubles didn’t leave him alone and a single from the album titled ‘Right now’ was banned partly in South Korea due to the obscenity at display.
Mezamashi TV, a Japanese network, telecast his concert in Japan, which turned out to be the first taste of international fame for PSY. His dance moves mocking Beyonce and Lady Gaga became a rage in Japan and PSY found a new fan-base amongst the Japanese.
In July 2012, PSY released his sixth studio album titled ‘PSY 6 part 1’ and the single from the album ‘Gangnam Style’ started telecasting on TV and radio. Soon, it became a rage and as the time passed, the song became one of the most watched music videos in the internet history. In August that year, the song reached at the top spot in the iTunes chart. PSY was the first South Korean artist to achieve the feat.
Following the success of the song, and the album, PSY started touring around and spent most of the later part of year doing concerts across the world. Sometime later, PSY released another single ‘Gentleman’ which was well received but never became as successful as ‘Gangnam Style’. Collaboration on a song ‘Hangover’ with Snoop Dogg followed and PSY became a household name in the USA.
In December 2015, PSY released two ‘tongue in cheek’ style videos titled ‘Daddy’ and ‘Napal Baji’ from his next studio album which was titled ‘PSY seventh album’. The album included guest appearances by some of the most popular American musicians such as Black Eyed Pea and Will.i.am.
Apart from music, PSY has been a well-known name for South Korean and American television audiences as he has made appearances in popular shows like ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘Hello Counsellor’, ‘Radio Star’ and ‘Fantastic Duo’.
PSY is widely regarded as the first Korean pop singer to achieve gigantic success in west. He is also known to be the first solo Korean music artist to win the YouTube Silver Button, for crossing 10 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Despite his dreamlike success, PSY has remained a controversial figure domestically, owing to his frequent usage of bold lyrics and dance moves in many of his songs. He has also seen the face of prison in 2001 when he was booked for consuming marijuana. He stayed in jail for 25 days.
In 2006, PSY married his long time girlfriend Yoo Hye-Yeon. They had met in college and dated for almost 4 years before finally getting married, and the couple got blessed with twin daughters soon after.
In a TV interview, PSY stated that he has drinking problem and he drinks to the point of exhaustion almost every day.
PSY once made UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon dance on the quirky steps from ‘Gangnam Style’.
He admitted that it took him more than a month to come up with the signature step for the song ‘Gangnam Style’.
As of June 2017, PSY’s net worth is USD 25 million.