She’s a mother of two, a wife, a female Rapper and yes she is a Christian too! Oh by the way she is Korean too. Here is Hee Sun Lee’s Beauty for Ashes album review…..
Now this lady right here, that, am about to review. I came across her in 2013 December,to be precise on JamTheHype. So I was like yeah, I’mma get myself her music. On the 21st of January 2014 she released her album Stereotypes under the In My City Label. The album had 16 tracks, yes 16 tracks! But I tell you her album ministered to me and made me look at life really differently giving thanks for all the opportunities that, He had given. That album made me treasure the word GRATEFUL! Of which, I have truly become and ever remain to God for all he has done, keeps doing and will continue to do for me. It is also through this album that, I got to know the duo Social Club as one of her songs, ‘Get to Know Me’, was done in collaboration with them. Some of my favorites from the album is ‘Skin Deep’ which feat. Mia Hunt, ‘Breaking All the Rules’ feat. Kei Landa & Erica Cumbo, ‘Runaway’, ‘Turn me around’ feat. Mia Hunt, ‘Tonight is the Night Again’ feat. Tiffany Michelle, ‘Plastic’, ‘Role Model’ and of course ‘Get to Know Me’ amongst the others.
Born in South Korea on the 4th of June 1983 in Seoul, South Korea, but abandoned by both of her birth parent at four months old. She was then adopted by Chinese-American immigrant, who brought her to live and reside in Staten Island, New York. She also talks about this in this album ‘Beauty For Ashes’, in the song ‘Bloodlines’.
I really couldn’t wait to start reviewing this album as I knew that she will never disappoint me with her truthfulness, and honesty when on that mic. Also the fact that she is one of my kind, a woman too! 🙂 This she surely did, let me not bore you and let’s get straight into the album itself so that, we see what message she has prepared for us to continue our walk with Christ. Well this album is her first independent album.
Track 1- Intro (See the Sun) feat. Laquan Green
In the intro Hee Sun Lee goes hard as she introduces the album by starting to tell about her life how as a rapper she has been trying to make rounds. Her moving from show to show, spending most of her time in music she wonders how come she ain’t a vegetable. She emphasizes that, she will show how she is living in the rhymes she spits. In the song she also states that, ‘she gives her music her all as her heart and soul is on this microphone.’ As she continues with the flow she also gives us the information that, this album was done at the time that she was carrying her second baby, and they were so many adversities. You will also hear her emphasizing the point that, she was called to be a light of Jesus and she will never fight to own this mic. Now I like the fact that, she clearly brings to the world through her music the real struggles of us women everywhere in the world. How we try to juggle been a wife, mother and at the same time a rapper or any other profession in life. I remember when I was doing my master’s degree first year and it was part-time, so that, meant I was working during the weekdays and then going to school full time during weekends. I remember it got so intense for me to the point I wondered what I had put myself into, but then as I looked at a colleague who was at the time pregnant, working, coming to school and obviously was doing all the other duties that a wife and a mother does at home, I had to repent and thank God that, if she could manage all that, why couldn’t I?, now that I was single and not married. She gave me the encouragement through her life by showing me, I could take whatever comes my way and this is what Hee Sun Lee is also saying in this song right here. I always tell people with God you will always break any adversity that comes your way all we need to do is trust Him. If you have a dream with passion and also dedicating yourself to making that, dream come to be, God will see you through it and you will accomplish it. See the Sun cause a whole new world is waiting for you out there!
Track 2- All Out feat. Ted Smith
Hee Sun Lee reminds us as believers in Christ, we should be the light of the world and show the Christ that, we have accepted. We should always think twice as Christians in our daily lives before doing anything. The decisions we make should not show a different life from the life that, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ lived and left for us to live too. Yes, God saved us by grace as His word says in 2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” But this doesn’t give us an excuse to keep sinning does it? Actually it gives us a heart to mourn when we find out ourselves having sinned because we are reminded of the price that, he paid on the cross for us. We should also use our skills for His glory and not our glory; we should never rest our skill. This reminds me of the parable of the talents in the book of Matthew 25:14-30, God gives us all different talents or skills to use for the advancement of his kingdom and it is our responsibility to go with it All Out so that, when he comes we won’t be found wanting.
Track 3- Beauty for Ashes feat. Alia Akili & Daba Jo
The title track of the album which has an EDM feel to it, showing how Hee Sun Lee incorporates diversity into her album. She also quotes Isaiah 61:3 in this song, my NIV bible says, “and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor”.
This is 100% truth right there! For me being born with a skin disease known as Atopic Eczema, and it getting worse during my teenage years was really devasting. My very close relatives telling my mom that, because they had refused to take to some traditional healer because of their faith in God. I was never going to get a better paying job because of my skin condition. But as Hee Sun Lee as emphasized above, with God in you, you were meant for greatness! I have changed jobs like how I change my clothes someone said
🙂 , but it is all because God cares and he wants to show us that, He is God even in the darkest times. Just to show His power, after what had been said I got an interview invitation letter and I went to the interview. I got the job and as part of the requirements for me to start the job I had to go for medical examinations. You don’t wanna know how my skin was at that time! The devil really tried to make me think that, what these relatives had said was true but I remember my mum and I praying together and speaking His word back to Him, which says that, he will never leave or forsake those who have always stood for Him. My skin was like way really really bad! The doctor who did my medical checks actually asked me. ‘Do you have Eczema?’ and I said yes, then he was like okay. After the results had been sent to my employer, they still wanted me like that! We just could not get over the incident. God indeed does fulfill His word, joy and praise is always on my lips and if He opens the door no one can close it. For me I really know what Hee Sun Lee is talking about here, Beauty for Ashes for real! I had to just go and see these relatives and tell them how God had given me a job and they still see His hand of mercy and grace upon me to this day as God continues to show them that I was meant for greatness, and so are you too!
Track 4- Underdog feat. Sicily, Butta P & Wxnder Y
So in this song Sicily comes in on the second verse and he killed the beat too together with Butta P! Song shows us how some many people may call rappers like Hee Sun Lee as the underdog, but she is a rapper with a difference and she fully believes in the Lord Jesus Christ making sure that, she will stand up for Him too. This reminds me of the books by Malcom Gladwell I read earlier on this year; ‘David & Goliath- Underdogs, Misfits & The art of Battling giants’ and ‘Outliners’. I liked the way he used practical examples to show how the very same people who were looked down upon in society as underdogs and also outliners made life changing impacts in the world as a whole. I will quote what he said, “We need to take advantage of the disadvantages we have”. Thus we will keep on blossoming yeap!
Track 5- In my veins feat. Lyricks
This song gives a brief background of how Hee Sun Lee started her rapping career. She says she fell in love with hip hop when she was just a youngster and better still, her been an Asian girl. She also tells of how her mother at first not liking her doing the rapping but I guess she ended up liking it. This hip hop is in her veins. Lyricks then comes in the second verse and he gives his own side of the story of how hip hop is also in his veins. Yes anything that, we have in our veins can either be used for God’s glory or not. I thank God that, Lyricks has started to use it for God’s glory too. So many people around the world nowadays still thing hip hop is all about cursing, bad words and is for only black people. Now these two artists right here, both Korean, have broken that, stereotype by showing how it can actually be used for the good and to save lives too. Even NF has talked about how music is something that, he has to do for him to deal with his previous pain, it’s something that, he needs and he is also fully aware that, God gave him the gift as a tool to also reach many people who are in the same situation as he was, Therapy Session-‘Real’.
Track 6- Let me Talk
On this song right here, I will not say anything which Hee Sun Lee has not already said, she has managed to say it all. All we need to do is listen and either accept it or not! This was the single released in March 2016 before the full Beauty for Ashes album was released on the 14th of October 2016.
‘now i got something to say…y’all might not like me for it, but… its coming from my heart. So let me talk
lemme talk for a, minute or two
i gotta, mission to do
this rap music, yea, I’m sick of it too
i’ll throw this curve ball out, bro, I’m pitching to you
stir some controversy up? i’ll consider that too
im sitting back I’m listening to all the garbage out
we starving people lyrically nobody will acknowledge that
Christian or secular
I hear on the regular
u wanna challenge me? go ahead I’m begging ya
these rappers talk about it
they talking like they’ll change the game
they’ll even shout out Jesus name
they actin like they praise His name
we need to go deeper
go n raise ur speakers, I’m about to go all in, this ya girl, don’t try to bleep her’
i dunno why nobody could talk about this topic properly
not hatin don’t be blocking me, I’m talking thru the God in me
i wish we had more honesty, in why we rapping, time to see
who’s the real deal, and who’s been busy robbin me
i know the business side of music, know the politics
i know the hustle and the grind, the mental state, I’m no psychologist
im not a newbie, go include me in ya list of vets, I’ve been rapping on so many stages, thousand people know my set.
this aint about my lack’a knowledge, I’m just tired, bro
these rappers getting louder, the truth is getting quiet, tho
savin souls or earning money?
doing shows to earn some money?
only postin pics with certain people, now we looking funny.
are we really Christians put that in the equation
if Jesus took our gift away would we still wanna praise Him?
we rap about how our music’s all about serving
then we get up off the stage, don’t wanna talk to one person
we do this outta love or do this outta selfishness
it’s happening too many times, I saw how artists dealt with this
they need some help with this. they need to practice what they preach
staying humble ’s a priority before they speak.
i aint perfect, but I’m learning
im discerning what it means to be an artist that’s deserving
the respect of my fans, these fans that held me thru the years
they’re the reasons that i’m still here pushing my career!’
the music industry is grimy, yea i get it
and we gotta make a living so i give these rappers credit
its not easy being an artist, and a Christian one, forget it!
but if this is Gods calling better take ur pride and dead it
yea, i said it. before u go and write a verse
if u aint savin lives thru ur actions then ya lyrics have no worth
forget the autographs and private green rooms
reality checks are clearly something that we need soon
this the real truth, don’t don’t why people trim it
they never talk about this maybe cuz the word “Christians” in it
the word Christian’s in it, but not all Christian’s in it
ya gotta mimic, play the part, and hope ya soul is wit it.
i admit it no ones perfect, but fakeness, i cant be it,
they say we’re on the same team but i dont see it.
do you? is it true? that we’re losing it
you don’t believe me, watch the game, these players will be proving it
i miss the old days of hip hop when hearts were pure
before social media, made us insecure
how many followers we got today, that’s what we’re stressing
jus focus on ur music, pray that it can be a blessing
we need a change, we need conviction, know we used to have it
wanna thank my listeners that i can talk about it.
lets remember why we doing this…why we picked this mic up in the first place.
it was so we can change the world
i dunno what happened, but now the world is changing us.
lets get back to our roots. lets remember why we doing this, God Bless’
Even Courtney Antipas spoke about this his song ‘Awa’ on the Vigilante album. It’s now all about money and all, no longer about the giver of the gift!
Track 7- Losing Faith feat. Tan Brown
Every Christian at some point in time also has the following feelings. The Christian faith is not at all rosy every time, they are sometimes it may get really hard to carry your cross but thank God that, in those time He reminds us of who He is in our lives and gives us the strength to carry on.
Here she talks about all the challenges that, we have and we are all currently facing on a day-to-day basis. So many things are happening in nowadays and it may lead us to ask the following question, ‘Where is God in all this?’
I personally will say that, this is very true currently; many people say they are Christians but their bibles collect dust in their houses, let alone their relationship, which is daily communication, with God is no longer available. How can you say you have a relationship with a God and never talk or the least spend time with him every day? Imagine that you are in a marriage now and you act the very same way we act with God, never spend any time with him let alone talk to him, will that relationship ever thrive? Am leaving that question to each and every one of us to think about and of course answer. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ‘Trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He shall direct your path.’ The moment we lose our faith in Him chaos takes over in our lives.’ In the end as The SWITCH in ‘Nothing to Lose’- we have nothing to lose when we trust in Jesus.
Track 8- Bloodlines
This song is more of a spoken word and I know my partner in crime Leccoo will love this one too. Hee Sun Lee says she used to think that she was unfortunate not to know her childhood bloodline because she was adopted. But she is now grateful to know how it feels to have a bloodline when she had her first daughter. She is very much grateful to God for that, bloodline which we should all be. Sometimes as families we many have arguments or differences but one thing we should know is that, the older you get the more family means everything as NF says in his song ‘I can Feel It’.
Track 9- I love you, Daddy
If I am correct this song was inspired by Hee Sun Lee’s daily life now that, her husband is a police officer. It shows her daily fears of his job’s risks. I guess this is what every woman fears, married to a cop, solider or marine staff. It also shows the life of a cop, a father who has a daughter feels especially when they give their life to their jobs, a daily life view from a cop’s perspective. This song also shows the bond that fathers have with their daughters. I like the way Hee Sun Lee manages to bring these emotions to reality.
Track 10- I’m with you feat. Sam Ock
Hee Sun Lee manages to bring out our day-to-day Christian lives to reality in her song I’m with you. When pressures of life scream at us, the daily struggles that, we have on a daily basis when the devil comes to our thoughts and says, ‘we are not okay’. We should know that, Jesus is always with us. We have fear haunting us in our lives. We should know, when we give our lives to Christ, He will always bring us out of all lives’ situations with joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding. Panic attacks are real but they will never steal our hearts when we are in Christ. ‘God has given us a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind’, 2 Timothy 1:7. I used to have a lot of fear and this verse helped me to get over all fear. I recited it every day whilst growing up and I can finally say, I do give all my daily struggles to Christ. It is amazing, how I now everyday give thanks to God whenever fear comes to me, I quickly now give it to Lord unlike in my past, am really amazed at his power, love and faithfulness to my years ago prayers.
Anyways, three weeks ago I was speaking to some guy on the street about Christ and one thing he mentioned was that, maybe he really did need to give his life to Christ so that, all the trials and tribulations that he was facing would go away. I told him straight up, Man! Giving your life to Christ doesn’t make everything go rosy, better still if I can say, it actually makes you face a lot of trials and tribulations cause you would have known the light and the truth. But one thing I can promise you, is what He has promised us in His word. Jesus said He will be with us in those trials and tribulations and He will give you joy to overcome them in style and with so much peace that, surpasses all understanding. Jesus is always with us and we should never lose our faith in Him. John 14 says so especially verses 27. A lot of people are now losing their faith in God by believing the wrong notion which says Christians should never suffer because Jesus already suffered for us, those are lies, Jesus Himself told us in Luke 10:3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. This shows us that, it will never be easy to follow Him, but He will be with us.
Track 11- Treasure feat. Laquan Green
Hee Sun Lee talks about how she felt previously, as she never thought she meant anything because of her history. But Jesus gave her a new life and a meaning to life. We are treasure in God’s eyes. Jesus gave His life for us because he thought of you and me which means He treasured us. Life can be hard sometimes but never forget with God we are fine! I can feel what she is saying here as I also felt that way too in my past. I thought I was worth nothing till I knew what God did for me. Jeremiah 31:3 and Psalms 139:14. If you ever think that you are worth nothing, please! you need to listen to this song and know that Jesus loves you as you are! No matter where we are coming from!
So you maybe wondering, where can I get this album, well if you want listen to the album or buy it here is a link to the album: Beauty for Ashes
Hee Sun Lee, this album indeed is Beauty for ashes and for all I know, gal you have managed to make it truly know that, our God will indeed bestow on them, those who grieve in Zion, a crown of beauty instead of ashes! Well done my sister for definitely reppin’ the Kingdom well and breaking those stereotypes which say women can’t be anything in society, especially if they give birth. For all I know they can be twice as better, than their male counterparts, am just saying! Your gal has been represented too! 🙂