Son Of Paper
On Asian identity and addressing hyper masculinity in his new track 'Missed Love'
A native of San Francisco, Son of Paper (SOP) is a song writer and performing artist that blends Conscious Hip-Hop flows with R&B grooves and East Asian influences. He is best known for his catchy, Konglish single Soju Over Ice which gained traction in South Korea. In 2023, Son of Paper independently released his debut album called FROM A ROOFTOP IN CHINATOWN
What inspired the name 'Son of Paper' and what is the story behind it?
This is one of my favorite questions to answer! I chose the name Son of Paper to honor my Chinese side's remarkable and painful journey into the US during Chinese exclusion (1882-1965). At that time, xenophobia against Chinese was so strong that Chinese immigrants moving here was close to impossible. But when the 1906 Earthquake and fire happened in San Francisco, a lot of immigration papers were lost creating a new chance for Paper Sons and Daughters to claim new identities: my great grandma Bessie Quan being one of them. Because anti-immigrant sentiment is still afflicting our society, my artist name has held additional weight and meaning, especially during the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.
Could you walk us through your music journey and how it all started for you?
I wrote my first song in seventh grade over an instrumental break in the song apologize by OneRepublic. Music was mainly a way for me to process information that my young brain and heart couldn’t seem to get like heartbreak or anti-Asian bullying. Since then I’ve been honing my craft for over 10 years now and honestly it’s kind of for the same reasons— but it comes off much more polished and accessible than those early raps haha. I think I’m my happiest and fullest self when I’m performing or recording with other musicians. Lately I’ve been lucky to do that full time and in musically vibrant cities like NY, LA and Toronto.
Missed Love' is your new track, can you share with us the inspiration and creative process behind it?
Sure! Missed Love is an RNB, rap song reminiscent of Mac Miller’s Swimming. It’s about guilt, forgiveness, facing your past, and wishing someone the best that you can’t talk to anymore. One of the big themes in this song is a track and field race. Before music, track and field taught me a lot about life but also fueled a part of me that was unhealthily competitive; a track meet race is a symbol being in competition with other men to win the attention of beautiful women, financial success and respect. But who are we racing? In Missed Love I want to show the self injury that happens to people with this hyper-masculine mindset, which is common for Asian American men like myself.
Your Asian identity has had a significant impact on your art. Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how do you hope your music and message will resonate with listeners?
I try to take inspiration from everyone but Black and Asian American artists have probably shaped me the most. From Kanye to J.Cole to Nas, I fell in love with lyricism and charismatic delivery over boom bap, a hip-hop production style originated in the New York (where my Dad is from). My debut album, FROM A ROOFTOP IN CHINATOWN is actually modeled after the classic album Illmatic by Nas. Right now, sonically I’m most similar to Mac Miller, DPR LIVE, G-Dragon and other KRNB artists that slide between rap and r&b flows with equal prowess. But just so y’all know.. lately I’ve been dabbling in emo, acoustic and pop genres with producers Kev Luu, kyden flint and Sebastian Chang. My main advice for artists looking to broaden their sources for inspiration is to listen to the artists that your favorite artists listen to (usually they mention it in their interviews or in who they sample or cover).
What upcoming projects can you tell us about, and what can fans expect from you in 2023?
My upcoming single Seoulmates comes out in late March and I'll link it when the pre-save is available. I'll be releasing many singles this year that I've been working on with artists and producers on both coasts, many of whom I met during the pandemic thanks to zoom open mics, ACN, and other online music spaces.
As a magazine with a strong focus on music and food (ie. chocolate lemonade), we are curious: if your music could be represented by a drink or food item, what would it be and why?
Great question. I'm going to go with Korean grape juice for the drink and a burmese chicken salad. Savory, sweet, crunchy and light feels pretty on brand for SOP.