From the heights of her native New York to the depths of North Korea, HeeSun Lee breaks open every misconception that runs through the mind of today’s society. Stereotypes continues from where her last album Re:Defined left off. In other words, you won’t leave listening this album without being challenged.
The first track, “Intro,” unleashes a Pandora’s Box of different stereotypes. The listener is forced to distinguish between what is the way God sees people and what is just human status quo. The crosscutting voices set the tone for the rest of the album, which is what you would expect from a refined artist as HeeSun Lee. Its clean-cut, no bars hold approach makes for an excellent delivery.
Throughout the 16 tracks, what really stands out is how a commercial sound has been swapped with more down to earth, gritty beats. By combining her struggles lyrically with a beat selection such as this, it brings out her raw honesty even more. This is no bad thing, since we get a glimpse of what it means to juggle the roles of wife, mother, rapper, and most important of all, being a follower of Jesus.
On the chorus to “Plastic,” she addresses the skeptics: ‘a female rapper and she’s not made out of plastic!/This is unbelievable and they cannot grasp it.’ Lyrically, this album is tight, and it is good to hear a diversity of collaborations too such as Tiffany Michelle, Chris Cobbins, and Mia Hunt. Social Club joins HeeSun on the track “Get To Know Me” where she also addresses the subject of beauty: ‘my makeup can’t conceal my true character.’
God has definitely qualified her to speak on this issue as she is totally open about her own struggles with looking “Skin Deep:” ‘From the bottom of the ocean to the other side of Mercury/That’s the thing about beauty/It’s more than the eye can see.’ Modern day female musicians are parodied on the excellent track “Role Models.” Its psychedelic, mashed up electronica makes you think she is trying to reflect the confusion many young girls are misled into by some role models.
Since HeeSun is very self-aware in knowing that she is called to set an example, it is also refreshing to hear her struggles in having the expectations to be ‘perfect’ when it comes to ministry. “I’m Supposed To Be” and “Breaking All The Rules” spell this out well: ‘when I live out loud/He lives through me.’ This is a humble reminder that Jesus died for our imperfections, which means we are free to let go and let God.
I love how HeeSun doesn’t forget to express her thankfulness to firstly, her husband on love fuelled “Special Pick” and “Changed Me,” which is essentially a love letter to hip-hop. Overall, the concept behind Stereotypes is strong, however, I think that there could have been a more diverse set of flows to match the lyrical directions.
The stand out track has to be “North Korea” which is a Korean prayer followed by a spoken word on what extreme persecution leads to. I cannot think of any other track in CHH now that is addressing this issue. If the best track is left to last, then this one echos an outstanding originality.
Overall, the main message behind the album as a whole can be found in “Breaking Stereotypes,” featuring MC Jin. The reality is that if you’re a Christian ‘haters are gonna hate’ but, HeeSun Lee encourages us through this hard-hitting album that we can break down any prejudices or labels through knowing that our identity can firmly be found in Jesus alone.