Yoon Mi-rae (윤미래) is a Korean-American artist that transcends genres. Also known by her English name Tasha or simply ‘T,’ she may be more recognized as the voice behind some of the biggest Korean dramas’ original soundtracks.
She can serenade about love and heartache. But just as well, she can spew out punchy rap with perfect diction.
Listen to 100 seconds of Youn Mi-rae as a preview:
In this post, we try to paint a broader picture of Yoon Mi-rae through the songs that define her life and career.
Find our very own ‘Yoon Mi-rae YouTube playlist’ at the end of the page, including the songs mentioned in this post and some of our other favourite clips.
‘Black Happiness’ & Childhood
Youn Mi-rae is ethnically African American and Korean, born in the US to an African American father and Korean mother.
She opens up about growing up with prejudice in the song ‘Black Happiness’ (검은 행복) after coming to Korea at the age of nine. Korea is a relatively homogenous country and in the 1990’s, it was even more so.
In the lyrics of Black Happiness, she raps:
“Especially dark, my skin as a kidTranslated lyrics to ‘Black Happiness’ by Youn Mi-rae
People point fingers, right at my mommy
Feeling guilty that everything’s my fault
I wash my face over and over each day
Wet the white soap with my tears
Blame my black skin on myself”
The racism followed her music career when she debuted at the age of 12. Not only did she have to lie that she was 18, she was also told not to speak about her African-American father.
But it is precisely because of her father’s influence that Yoon Mi-rae became an artist. He was a radio DJ serving in the US army and she recalls growing up with music in the house.
‘Black Happiness’ speaks to her growing pains from prejudice and racism but it is a hopeful song of how she overcame them through music and family.
‘Angel’ & Husband Tiger JK
Yoon Mi-rae and rapper Tiger JK married in 2007 after keeping their relationship private for 7 years. With their marriage, they became the hip hop couple in the country.
This couple creates a synergy when they work together in their professional lives as well. Tiger JK features in Yoon Mi-rae’s songs by producing them, rapping in them, and starring in her music videos.
Yoon Mi-rae’s song ‘Angel’ captures how significant family is in the artist’s life – not only Tiger JK, but also their son Jordan and the couple’s long-time collaborator, Bizzy:
They might seem like a picture-perfect family but their relationship had to struggle through a debilitating illness. In 2006, Tiger JK was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an incurable disease that can lead to paralysis among other effects. Tiger JK mentions that he gained 30kg because of the treatment’s side effects and was barely recognizable.
In 2019, Tiger JK announced that he had relapsed and was undergoing treatment. But as they did before, Yoon Mi-rae and Tiger JK appear to be braving through, together, with their optimism and energy.
‘Get It In’ & Lumpens
Lumpens (룸펜스) is a visual art production company, spear-headed by art director Choi Yong Suk (최용석), that has directed music videos of K-pop group BTS since 2014. But before being part of multiple videos with over 100 million views, Lumpens started with directing one of Yoon Mi-rae’s songs.
‘Get It In’ was released in 2011 under The Creators Project, a programme from Intel and VICE that supports visual artists who incorporate innovative technology in their works. Tiger JK and Lumpens collaborated on Yoon Mi-rae’s single to bring out a futuristic, Kill Bill-themed music video that merged seamlessly with the electronic sounds of the song.
Since then, Lumpens has continued to work closely with Tiger JK and Yoon Mi-rae, directing a host of music videos such as ‘The Cure’ by Drunken Tiger, ‘You & Me’ by Yoon Mi-rae and more than a few from MFBTY.
‘Bang Diggy Bang Bang’ & MFBTY
MFBTY might sound like a mouthful (which the team admits to themselves) but it’s worth it given what it stands for. MFBTY is short for ‘My Fans are Better Than Yours’, a collaborative project that emerged in 2013 between Yoon Mi-rae, Tiger JK and rapper Bizzy.
Under the Tiger JK/Yoon Mi-rae music label Feel Ghood Music, MFBTY has been chasing music that is ambitious and simply fun for them to be part of. The trio’s music style is captured especially well in ‘Bang Diggy Bang Bang,’ which kicks off with the playful voice of Yoon Mi-rae and Tiger JK’s son, Jordan.
OSTs of the Most Popular Dramas
Starting with the OST to 2013 drama Master’s Sun, Yoon Mi-rae’s career as a balladeer took off to new heights in subsequent years. She has since taken part in the original soundtracks to Korean dramas with strong casts and even stronger popularity.
Here are Yoon Mi-rae’s most popular songs (according to Yoon Mi Rae’s Spotify profile as of February 2021) which happen to be all K-drama OSTs.
‘Touch Love’ – Master’s Sun, 2013
‘I Love You’ – It’s Okay, That’s Love, 2014
‘I will listen never alone’ – Who are You: School, 2015
‘Always’ – Descendants of the Sun, 2016
‘You are my world’ – Legend of the Blue Sea, 2016
‘Flower’ – Crash Landing on You, 2019
‘Say’ – Itaewon Class, 2020
While Yoon Mi Rae’s original soundtracks are great, other aspects of her life and career are commendable and noteworthy as well.
Just as Yoon Mi Rae and Tiger JK paved the way for hip hop artists in Korea, they’ll continue to stay relevant in the industry as tight-knit collaborators with their own unique styles.
Yoon Mi-rae YouTube Playlist
Ready to get into Yoon Mi-rae’s world of music?
Here’s a curated playlist of the clips and songs mentioned in this post and some additional favourites found in the course of researching for this page.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!