박혜진 Park Hye Jin Before I Die Ninja Tune
When 박혜진 Park Hye Jin made her 2020-released EP How can I in 2019, she could never have predicted how events would unfold the following year. When it was suggested that the release date be pushed back, she rejected the idea, saying, “Who knows if I might die tomorrow, but at least if that happens, I’ll die really happy.”
This defiant, live-in-the-moment attitude has informed 박혜진 Park Hye Jin’s debut album, not least in the title, Before I Die. As with previous releases, she packs a lot of ideas into a small space, spanning everything from delicate dream pop to banging techno over the course of barely 40 minutes. The wistful electronics of 2018’s IF U WANT IT return in the first half of the record, and the harsher, more dance floor-focused sounds of How can I are present in the latter half, starting with Sex With ME (DEFG) – a distorted, thumping house cut which completes a triplet of tracks about physical desire and booty calls which also includes Can I Get Your Number and Whatchu Doin Later.
박혜진 Park Hye Jin’s unique vocal sees her singing and rapping in English and her native Korean. In brighter tracks like opener Let’s Sing Let’s Dance and I Need You, her voice takes on a chanting quality amid warm keys and uttering birdsong. As the tracks go darker and the BPM quickens, her repetitive lyrics act like another percussive hook.
Before I Die closes on a softer note, with the muffled keys and hazy cloud rap production of I jus wanna be happy. It’s a simple request, but it resonates.