Find Out More About The Controversial Female Rapper, Jessi
Jessi is a Korean-American female rapper who gained huge popularity in 2015. Many people don’t know that she is a veteran in the Korean entertainment industry, having debuted as a singer in 2005. Jessi became a popular figure in variety shows after her appearance in the female rapper’s survival show, Mnet’s Unpretty Rapstar. She was known for her straightforward character, husky voice, and excellent rapping skill.
Not being very worried about other people’s opinions, she has caused many controversies during her music career. She was charged for assaulting a Korean woman in a nightclub. Recently, she caused huge controversy due to her inappropriate airport fashion. She has gained huge groups of anti-fans and ever-growing criticism for her blunt comments on variety shows. In this article, Channel-Korea will show all the information about her debut in the Korean music industry, controversy, discography, and more.
Full Profile and Facts
Name: Ho Hyun-joo/Jessica Ho
Stage name: Jessi
Date of Birth: December 17th, 1988
Place of Birth: New York, United States
Height: 165 cm
Weight: 51 kg
Blood type: O
Management: P Nation
Chinese Zodiac: The Year of the Dragon
- Jessi’s ideal type is actor Ha Jung-woo
- Jessi is close with Girls Generation’s Tiffany, Sistar’s Hyorin, and singer Ailee
- Her surname, Ho, is a rare surname in Korea
- She has various tattoes on her face and ear
- She attended Korea Kent Foreign School, the same school as Girls Generation’s Tiffany and Jessica
- She moved to Korea when she was 15 years old.
- She was accepted as an SM Entertainment trainee, but decided to not join because of different music styles
- Jessi’s parents are Korean immigrants, and she has two older brothers
- She was born in New York and was raised in New Jersey
- She was recommended by Suzy to feature in one of Park Jin-young’s single tracks
Before debuting as a singer, Jessi dreamed of becoming a makeup artist or fashion designer. She received praise from her school teacher after hearing her singing. Her teacher said that Jessi’s voice had an African-American soul, strong and powerful. After hearing her teacher’s praise, her dream instantly changed into becoming a singer. Jessi’s parents were highly supportive and provided her with a karaoke machine and vocal trainer. Brimming with confidence, she left the United States and flew to Korea without her parents at the age of 14 years old. She wrote her own song and sent a demo tape to four entertainment agencies. All of the agencies were keen on giving her a contract. She selected Doremi Records, who managed hip-hop group Drunken Tiger.
Debut As Soloist
Jessi debuted as Jessica H.O on December 1st, 2005, by releasing a debut album titled “Get Up”. She debuted at the age of 17, after going through a two-year training period. Jessi performed the title track “Get Up” on the TV series Music Bank.
Jessi revealed that Koreans didn’t like her husky voice, dark skin, and piercings. She removed all her piercings, but she still wasn’t getting any love from Korean audiences.
Jessi received a chance to feature on the hip-hop group Uptown Band’s album, replacing the band’s original vocalist. She released her second album, titled “The Rebirth” in January 2009.
Jessi returned to the United States in 2009, and took a long hiatus from music. In 2014, she came back to Korea and joined a hip-hop trio, Lucky J.
Appeared on Mnet’s Unpretty Rapstar
Jessi’s popularity skyrocketed after her appearance in Mnet’s Unpretty Rapstar. Unpretty Rapstar was a female rapper survival show that aired in January 2015. Being a seasoned Korean rapper that debuted in 2005, she competed with much younger, junior rappers. Although she didn’t win the top prize, her performance and unique character earned praise from viewers.
As the contestant with most experience, Jessi used her strong sister image and eagerly confronted other contestants. Being born and raised in the United States, she conversed with a mixture of Korean and English language. In the second episode, she formed a team with two other contestants, Yuk Ji-dam and Jolly V. They were given a mission to make a video for cipher, but her part got delayed and became the last to appear, causing her to flare. Due to her outburst, other contestants selected her as the worst rank. Being the worst rank, she couldn’t participate in a single track being produced by Zico.
In the third episode, Jessi competed with Cheetah for a chance to perform in one of Verbal Jint’s songs. Cheetah won against Jessi, and got paired with singer Kangnam. However, due to Jessi’s strong performance, she could still perform on Verbal Jint’s song. Jessi collaborated with Cheetah to record a single track that featured Kangnam, titled My Type, in the Unpretty Rapstar Compilation Album. Jessi became the runner-up in Unpretty Rapstar, losing to Cheetah.
Move From YMC Entertainment Into P Nation
Jessi decided not to extend her contract with YMC Entertainment after her contract ended in October 2018. On January 24th, 2019, she signed an exclusive contract with PSY’s P Nation, making her the first artist to be recruited by the new agency. Both agencies have a different music base, YMC Entertainment focused on singers, bands, and actors, while P Nation is currently focused on hip-hop music.
PSY said that he approached because he admired her rapping, singing, and dancing abilities. He planned to add a touch of commercial pop music to Jessi’s hip-hop image. PSY envisioned P Nation as an agency which was based on hip-hop and performance, but also aimed to contribute to mainstream music.
Jessi is among a few Korea celebrities who have publicly admitted going under the knife. Appearing on the TV talk show MBC’s Radio Star in December 2015, she confessed to the host about receiving surgery for her eyes and nose. She said that her agency recommended her to receive enhancement surgery before her debut. She also confessed that, at the time, her face wasn’t very photogenic. However, she immediately regretted it, and cried when seeing her new face, thinking that she looked like a monster.
Less than a year later, on September 8th, 2016, Jessi appeared as a guest on KBS2’s Happy Together and confessed about having undergone surgery for her eyes, nose, and breasts. She confidently wore revealing clothes and bluntly told the host that it was normal to show off her new look after getting cosmetic surgery. The hosts and guests were flustered by her straightforward comment.
Before reaching her peak popularity in 2015, Jessi was accused of assaulting a Korean woman, Ms Choi, at a nightclub in Itaewon. On May 18th, 2013, Ms Choi and her friends were in the woman’s restroom, when Jessi and her friends assaulted her and stuck Ms Choi’s head into the toilet. However, Jessi claimed that she saw a fight between Ms Choi and her friends and tried to stop the fight. Jessi said that they didn’t drink anything that night and they happened to see the fight at the restroom. She also said that she never said bad words or tried to hit her. She revealed that it was her foreigner friend that was involved in the fight, and her friend had left Korea. Jessi claimed that the fight was over within seconds and no injuries occurred to Ms Choi. The incident surfaced on June 12th, 2013. However, a day later, Ms Choi dropped her charges against Jessi and her friends. Police couldn’t reveal the reason behind the withdrawal, and the case was closed.
On September 20th, 2019, Jessi was pictured at the airport heading to Thailand for a K-pop concert. A photographer took pictures of her in a large, oversized white t-shirt with very short, black shorts. From the pictures, her butt-cheek was clearly visible as she walked to the gate. Her revealing airport fashion brought criticism and harsh comments from online media. Some comments went as far as saying that she looked trashy and cheap. Later, she posted a video on Instagram saying that she was wearing legging shorts.
On the same day, Hyuna also gained controversy for lifting her skirt and exposing her safety shorts during a live performance at a university festival. From an interview with P Nation’s representatives, it was revealed that both artists from P Nation wore sponsored leggings. Both artists chose to wear short leggings because it was comfortable for traveling long distances and performing high-intensity activities.
Jessi and Hyuna’s wardrobe controversy was addressed by a lawyer during a TV program called Weekly Entertainment Court. Lawyer Park Min-gyu said that neither Hyuna or Jessi could be charged for sexual harassment. Both artists wore pants, but they were too short, and it didn’t break any laws. He said that it was hard to distinguish the standard in practice.