What the world has to learn from Jonathan Park

Parker is one of many Asian musicians trying to make it big in the American music industry. He inspires a large following of people with his unique story.

Rappers. Not exactly the first group of people we think of when we’re picking role models, right? I mean, you can listen to the lyrics of any rap song, and, while it may all be a front, the type of lifestyle they endorse is far from positive; sexually explicit lyrics, boasting about the use and production of various drugs, and the constant perpetuation that you can be the most ignorant person on the planet and still make more money in a week than most people will ever see a lifetime can not be conducive to a positive environment. Well, Parker, a Los Angeles-based underground rapper, proves otherwise.

Parker, formerly known as Dumbfoundead, was born Jonathan Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1986 and has been through, seen and tried things that most people could only imagine. After he and his little sister were smuggled into Mexico by his mother at the age of three, they finally settled into Koreatown, Los Angeles.

Parker was exposed to hip-hop at a young age and began to actually pursue a career at the ripe age of 14. He was only a freshman in high school when he started to perform at a local cafe called the Luna Del Sol. He journeyed into the world of freestyling and rap battles where he began to make a name for himself in the underground hip-hop scene of LA, and, after checking out the underground rappers at Project Blowed, Parker was hooked.

Unfortunately, Parker hit a few bumps on his way to stardom. In a 2011 interview with LA Weekly, he details his “tumultuous” family situation and home life. After dropping out of high school in his sophomore year due to extensive truancy, Parker, along with his younger sister and one other roommate, moved into a one bedroom apartment. Parker worked a series of odd jobs, such as a bails bondsman and a cashier at M Grill, while his sister also held a part-time job while attending high school.

Parker tells LA Weekly that dropping out of high school, “was a pretty huge deal because education is obviously so important to the Asian community. My friends couldn’t believe it, they were like, ‘[expletive], your parents let you do it?’”

Dealing with a difficult home situation, a hard partying lifestyle and balancing being the man of the house can be tough on anyone, but somehow, Parker not only made it out alive, but relatively unscathed, and there is definitely a lesson to learn from this.

I’m relatively new to the Parker/Dumbfoundead/Korean Jesus fan club, so almost everything I find about this guy piques my interest. Parker is an avid YouTuber who is willing to open up his daily life to other YouTubers and fans of his music in several short, interesting webisodes where viewers are able to learn about the real Jonathan Park.

And then I started to think about death. I know, I know, but just stick with me for a second.

If you died tomorrow, what would you be remembered for? Being smart? A grade point average that won’t mean anything to anyone in a couple of years? Is that really how anyone wants to go out? Obviously not, but it happens all the time. I watch the Investigation Discovery Channel a lot and when the pretty, smart cheerleader gets murdered, everyone’s like, “Oh, she shouldn’t have died because she was so smart and pretty!”

Parker/Dumbfoundead/Korean Jesus/Old Boy Jon/Jonathan Park/Park Sung Man seems to know all about living life. While he’s definitely not consciously thinking about death (at least, I don’t think so), he’s obviously taken to this free-spirited, hippie lifestyle that allows him to follow his passions and try new things without worrying about this stringent, ideal role that people have for him. His webisodes delve into different aspects of his world and, as I watch them, I realized that it’s the little things that people take for granted.

When is the last time you or anyone you know just seriously took time out of their day to just go fishing in the mountains, or pet a dog, or even just go grocery shopping with a homie? Because I swear he did all of that. He even stopped on the side of the road just to enjoy the scenery and how quiet the mountains are.

Most of us are taught there is only one path in life: do well in high school, do okay in college and then get a good enough job and make enough money so we can take care of our parents. Okay, so that last part may just be my parents, but we’re all somewhere on that path. We don’t take the time to appreciate the thing like petting stranger’s puppies or appreciating the scenery that surrounds us. And, yeah, you may do these things, but when’s the last time you truly appreciated it?

But Parker/Dumbfoundead/Korean Jesus/Old Boy Jon/Jonathan Park doesn’t just stop at the little things. Parker has even taken part in the McDonald’s House Charity in his hometown and made a mini-documentary about his “gangsta little sister” and her preschool class in Echo Park.

The lesson to this story is: chill out. There are people who have been through much more than you and manage to live life to the fullest. Parker is a perfect example: There is more to life than school and being book smart. Now, granted, nobody deserves to die at the age of 17 or 18, you probably haven’t built up a big enough repertoire to have done anything memorable, but you get my point.

People need to start thinking more about death in order to live a more fulfilling life and we could all learn a thing or two about that from Jonathan Park.

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