by JONATHAN CHA
The last time KoreAm spoke with Eugene Ahn, also known as pop culture rapper Adam WarRock, we shared an order of Chi’Lantro’s fabulous kimchi fries just after he assertively dropped knowledge, as well as the mic, on the vast world of nerdcore at the Nerdy Music Panel in the Austin Convention Center at South By Southwest.
The panel highlighted an all-star lineup of pop culture drumbeat poets, including MC Frontalot, Mega Ran, MC Lars, and Mikal kHill. The featured artists emphasized at the panel that hip hop is a global conversation that allows them to break down barriers and speak honestly about any subject including social, cultural and political issues through their art.
Ahn carries on the genre’s tradition of opening dialogue in his latest project, a 24-hour Rap-A-Thon. On Oct. 18, the rapper will be writing, producing, and recording as many songs as possible for a 24-hour period to support survivors of sexual violence.
His first Rap-A-Thon emerged from a personal need to replace stolen equipment while on tour. Twenty-four hours and sixteen songs later, Ahn almost cleared $8,000, and after recouping expenses for his pilfered gear, he donated the remainder to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization.
RAINN operates the National Sexual Hotline in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. It also offers programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. Since its launch in 1994, RAINN has aided over 2 million sexual assault victims.
With sexual violence being an issue he “feels pretty strongly about,” Ahn enthusiastically said his second Rap-A-Thon will focus more on raising funds for RAINN by taking per-song pledges and donations. After the benefit event, Ahn will email instructions to benefactors on how to fulfill their pledge. Until then, he gifted KoreAm some words about the origins and challenges of his fundraiser.
What prompted your first rap-a-thon?
I was in St. Louis with my girlfriend at the time, and her car got broken into. All of our stuff was stolen, two laptops, a hard drive, my clothes, everything. I use my laptop to make music and, well, do everything. As an independent, full-time musician, buying a new MacBook that I upgraded with extra equipment myself would cost thousands of dollars. I didn’t know what to do. I’d played around with the idea of doing some kind of Rap-A-Thon, where I made music for 24 hours for a charity. But now, it was to sustain my livelihood. So I did it. I made 16 songs in one day. I fell asleep at 3 a.m. so I actually have always been kind of bitter that I didn’t get to keep making songs through the night.
How did that transform into an exclusive rap-a-thon for RAINN?
It was right around the time that Todd Akin was running for Senate. He had said some pretty insensitive things about women and rape. I remember seeing signs for Akin for Senate [throughout] the state. So, I decided to donate any excess money I made on the Rap-A-Thon to RAINN. I ended up donating over $1,000. I was contacted by RAINN after my donation, and I explained the story to them. We kept in touch.
What was it about RAINN that inspired you to fundraise for their organization?
I know a lot of people who’ve been personally affected by sexual violence, whether as survivors or being close to survivors themselves. It’s a serious issue to me. Something I’ve seen impact people I love and hold close. In addition to that, I see rape consistently pervade pop culture in pretty lazy and insensitive ways, in TV, comics, and movies. It’s used as a notifier that a villain is bad. It’s used as a lazy plot device that has a real effect on people who’ve been affected by sexual violence. And even worse, a lot of people seem to think it’s no big deal. RAINN is an organization that tries to help survivors of sexual violence, and raise awareness of the damage it can do. That appeals to me. Plus, they’ve been great since the first time they got in touch with me. I appreciate the personal connection they made to someone who they already got their money from. It meant a lot to me.
Compare your usual writing and recording process versus the Rap-A-Thon.
Usually the hardest part of the writing process is figuring out what to write about, and what angle to approach a topic from. For the Rap-A-Thon, that pretty much goes out the window. If I think of an idea, I run with it immediately. A lot of times, it’s a lot more freeing to make music that way. It often results in something a lot looser and more fun than I usually would’ve created. But then sometimes, it makes a song that makes no sense when looking back on it. There’s risk and reward in both directions.
What else have you been up to? Shows? Tours?
I’m kind of taking a break from touring. I’ll be doing some shows in VA Beach at NekoCon, Westford, MA at Drawncon in November, and Washington DC at Fantom Comics in December. But other than that, I’m working on a new EP for, hopefully, January andthe free music on the website, adamwarrock.com, which is updated at least weekly, if not more.
Photos courtesy of Eugene Ahn and RAINN
To submit a pledge to Adam WarRock’s 24-Hour Rap-A-Thon, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Donators can either pledge a specific amount per-song (an estimate of 15 songs will be created) or commit to a lump sum.
RAINN provides free, confidential support to victims of sexual violence, their friends and families over the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or its Online Hotline. Both hotlines are available 24 hours.