Some jokesters will forever be at the back of the bus, exhaling spitballs at the driver for cheap laughs, but Dumbfoundead is shedding that image and sitting with the big kids. A Korean-American by way of Argentina and Mexico, the L.A. rapper, born Jonathan Park, began his career at the informally famous open-mic Project Blowed in South Central. “I used to go every week to freestyle, battle and perform,” he tells Hive. “It was like rap school for me.” He made the transition from local celebrity to online monolith as he began making runs through the West Coast division of Grindtime, one of the most popular battle rap circuits, spinning off one hilarious, sharp Youtube victory after another.
Dumb was successfully able to bring his social media following with him as he transitioned into a studio emcee with the release of Super Barrio Brothers in 2007. Arguably his most impressive networking feat was Jam Session2.0, where he brought together eight musicians from around the world to collaborate on a single track. Two more solo projects and many a Twitter follower later, Dumbfoundead is without a doubt growing out of his class-clown battle rapping roots. “I got into recording a lot later and it was difficult at first, but there is nothing like the feeling of finishing a song and having people listen to it,” he explains. “A battle might entertain you for a few months but a classic song can entertain you for lifetime.”
Dumbfoundead’s latest release is DFD (out now) and remarkably it peaked at #8 on the worldwide iTunes hip-hop charts, right up there with the Wale and J. Cole, an accomplishment he feels honored to have reached. No doubt DFD is playful at times, but overall DFD has a jazzy, grown up vibe that the 24-year old emcee is just tapping into. “I’ve been growing as a song writer over the past few years after I left the battle scene … this album was a huge learning process for me and I feel is the official beginning of my music career.” Sure, on tracks like “Green” and “Studio Apartment” Dumb can enlist a self-deprecating feel good vibe, but he’s nailing down the art of storytelling on tracks like “Are We There Yet,” his favorite cut on the album. “The three verses in the song reflect the most important things to me in life: family, relationships and my passion/career” he retells to Hive. “It’s about growth and wanting more for yourself.” Cheers to that.