For The Times
Rapper Chris Ju -- aka Kato -- has been cutting his teeth at local open mic nights and has recently finished his first demo.
If you hear some bumpin' and thumpin' coming from a nearby basement and wonder what that sound could be, it's probably local rapper Kato throwing down some new beats at his home studio.
Chris Ju is his given name, and he is trying to make his name in the Atlanta rap scene.
"It's coming along slow; I still am a really new artist," said Ju, a Gainesville State College student. "I have been doing open mic events at local venues like the Apachee Cafe, the Red Light Cafe and Urban Grind in Atlanta."
Ju picked up his stage name from the 1960s television show "The Green Hornet," which starred martial arts guru Bruce Lee.
Ju moved to Flowery Branch about a year ago from Fairfax, Va. Prior to his move, he was attending Drexel University in Philadelphia and formerly was a member of a rap group called C.U.R.E., Can't Underestimate Real Emcees.
Now he is creating his own music, solo-style.
"I'm really picky when it comes to my music and I had a hard time doing the group thing," Ju said.
Former C.U.R.E. member Othman Bouchareb, a.k.a Caliph, still keeps in contact with Ju and is even contracting Ju to produce his solo album in a few months.
"He's really good," said Bouchareb, also a Virginia native. "I've been with him since the beginning and he has developed quickly. He's really good at what he's doing."
Right now, Kato has a demo CD out on Myspace.com. His "2006 Kato" work includes four self-written and recorded tracks.
"Worldly," the first track, begins with a chorus sampled in from the Beatles' song "Because."
"I try not to add in too many samples but I thought it worked here," Ju said.
"Worldly" has a slow, low beat behind Ju's speedy lyrics, which are weaved into the trance-like Beatles chorus.
The third track on the album, "Eye of the Storm," can be described as "lyrical purity," Ju said.
Each CD is $3.99 and individual songs can be purchased for 75 cents.
Ju, who is Korean-American, says he tries to incorporate all genres of music into what he creates at his home studio.
"When people just hear my music they say they have no idea that I am Asian American, but a lot of Asian Americans are coming up in hip hop right now," Ju said. "I'm a big fan of the underground emcees. I'm also a fan of rock. I think my favorite band out right now is Muse. I also like Incubus and Rage Against the Machine."
Ju is an oddity in Flowery Branch where the music scene has not completely developed.
"Hopefully if he does well, it will open doors in the community. Good luck to him," said Robbyn Wright, a GSC student and Flowery Branch resident. "There is not really a music scene (in Flowery Branch). People usually go to Gwinnett or Atlanta for that."
GSC student Basiru Deen also thinks it's great to have a local rapper from the South Hall city.
"If they are going into rap business they have a talent they want to show America," Deen said. "Not everyone can be a rapper."
Deen, who was born in Atlanta but raised in Africa, added that myspace may help Ju's fledging career.
"These days people can sell themselves (on myspace) and everyone can hear their music," he said.
Ju plans to travel to the Northeast over the summer and hook up with independent producer and rapper Chan, a performer who also produces under the Dynasty Muzik label.
In addition, Ju plans to attend the University of Georgia in the summer and to begin studying for a music business certificate.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, (770) 718-3414.
Originally published Sunday, February 25, 2007