A few months ago towards the end of 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Eric Nam for the Kore Asian Media Annual issue. I wasn’t a super fan when I met him at the time (helps to maintain objectivity) but after speaking with him for about an hour, I walked away from our conversation with a hunch that this guy was going to have a big year ahead of him. Not only is he down to earth and smart he is also incredibly talented and charismatic. I don’t get starstruck whatsoever but whenever I hear he has a new release coming out, I can’t help but get genuinely excited. It’s the kind of excitement I would get for a close friend who I know has been working really hard behind the scenes to make something amazing. It’s the kind of excitement I feel for someone who I can completely relate to: an Asian American who is pursuing a creative life.
Today, the epic collab, Cave Me In, performed by the trio Gallant, Tablo and Eric Nam was released worldwide. I would even dare say that it’s the collab of the year (and 2017 has only just begun). I’m not a music connoisseur or a pop culture fanatic but this release means so much more than just good music, it sets a high bar for international collaborations and the crossover of talent.
I first fell in love with Eric Nam’s sound when I heard “Into You,” his Tropical House vibey collab with LA based duo Kolaj. In this song you could hear that he had a great voice. Though it wasn’t his usual sound, it was a step forward from his often sugary, k-pop look and feel. Most recently, BODY was released, the R&B/k-pop collab with Timbaland, a song with a more mature feel and yet another step up.
What makes me so excited about Cave Me In, is that finally, I’m hearing Eric Nam the way I know him to be: a sultry voice that exudes the same relaxed confidence and unassuming (but sexy) self assuredness he exhibits in person. On social media he might be cutesy, but in this release he shines in a way that is hard to ignore. In this collab, all three talents are equally strong and complementary. They individually kill their part. It has solid meaningful lyrics. The sound is pleasing to an international audience. Their voices are all undeniably talented and pleasing to the ear. The music video is filmed in Hong Kong, a city symbolic of the intersection of East and West. The synergy of this collaboration doesn’t feel forced whatsoever. It’s a beautiful manifestation of worlds colliding and modern (but reminiscent) vibes resonating around the world. At the end of the day, what I see are three guys who have come from different perspectives and beginnings, who in their own respective careers have put a lot of time, heart and energy into honing their craft and come together and KILL it in Cave Me In, a song and example of talent transcending race or popularity. It serves as a reminder of harmony in diversity.
Needless to say, this song will be on repeat on my end for awhile.
Can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for Eric Nam, Gallant and Tablo. Especially Eric. He just might be the first truly successful “K-pop” star in America. Clearly, I’m rooting for him.
IMHO: The only complaint I have is on the wardrobe styling but that’s something that can always change. Would’ve loved to see Eric in something simple but cool like this:
You can listen to the song that I’ll have on repeat for awhile here:
In case you were wondering what Tablo’s rap says:
What do you think?
On what Eric Nam hopes his fans take away from his journey:
“Two things. Just be a good person. Just be nice. I think I try to live by that standard. It’s not a hard one. The other thing is really just to go for your dreams and just try it. You have one shot. If you’re going to do it, go 150% at it. Don’t half ass it. Go. for. it. Just be bold. I think we need more people who are bold, courageous, just going after it AND… they’re nice. The world would be such a better place than it already is if people were more like that.”