Jessi (musician)

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Jessi (musician, 2016, cropped).jpg
Jessi, in 2016
Jessica Hyun-ju Ho

(1988-12-17) December 17, 1988 (age 30)
Other names Jessica H.O
Education Korea Kent Foreign School
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
Musical career
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2005–present
Labels YMC Entertainment
Associated acts
Stage name
Korean name
Korean name
Korean name

Jessica Hyun-ju Ho (born December 17, 1988), better known by her stage name Jessi, is a Korean-American rapper, singer, and songwriter based in South Korea. She was born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and moved to South Korea at the age of 15.[1]


In 2003, Jessi successfully auditioned for Doremi Media, and moved to South Korea at age 15.[2] She released her debut single album, Get Up, in 2005, and performed the title song, "Get Up", on the TV program Music Bank. In 2006, the hip hop group Uptown featured her in their album Testimony, replacing their original vocalist Yoon Mi-rae.[3] Jessi's second single album, entitled "The Rebirth", was released in January 2009. After the release, she took a break from music, and left Korea to return to America.[4]

In 2014, after a 5-year hiatus, Jessi returned as a member of hip-hop trio Lucky J with rapper J'Kyun and vocalist J-Yo.[5] Lucky J debuted with the digital single "Can You Hear Me" under YMC Entertainment in July of that year.[6] A month after their debut, Lucky J made an appearance in Mnet's music competition program, Immortal Songs 2.

From January to March 2015, Jessi was part of the first season of Unpretty Rapstar, a spin-off of the program Show Me The Money.[7] Unpretty Rapstar is a female rapper survival program, where contestants compete for the chance to be featured on tracks in a compilation album. Jessi was chosen as the second-place winner of the show by audience vote.[8] After her appearance on Unpretty Rapstar, Jessi was featured in JYP's single "Who's Your Mama?" and its music video, which were both released in April 2015.[9] The track topped all nine major music charts in Korea as soon as it was released.[10] Throughout 2015, Jessi appeared as a guest in various popular variety shows, including Running Man and Happy Together.[11][12] She released her first ever solo rap single, "Ssenunni", on September 15.[13] Jessi's first live performance in the US was held on October 16. She performed at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles with hip-hop duo Mighty Mouth as her opening act.[14] When Unpretty Rapstar 2 aired, Jessi appeared in several episodes as a mentor. She and Cheetah, the winner of the previous season, were featured in Unpretty Rapstar 2 tracks produced by Verbal Jint.[15] In December 2015, Jessi performed her song "Ssenunni" at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.[16]

In 2016, Jessi starred as one of the permanent members in season 1 of popular Korean variety show, Sister's Slam Dunk.[17] In 2017, Jessi released another rap single, "Gucci" from her first mini-album, entitled Un2verse, both of which released on July 13.[18][19] In 2018, Jessi starred on Yo! MTV Raps. The show aired on MTV Asia on July 6.[20] On the same day, she released a single titled "Down".[21] According to Soompi, AOMG producer Gray took part in producing the track.[22]

Personal life

Jessi attended Korea Kent Foreign School along with Girls' Generation members Tiffany and Jessica Jung. Former CSJH The Grace member and current solo singer Stephanie Kim also attended the same school. Jessi successfully passed an S.M. Entertainment audition, the same company her three classmates were all under. However, she chose not to become part of the label, as she believed its approach to music did not match her style.[23] Before Jessi went on temporary hiatus from the music industry, she struggled to become accustomed to Korean culture.[4] She did not find immediate success after her debut, and was sometimes forced to sleep in saunas when she did not have enough money for a place to stay.[24]

In 2013, during her break from the music industry, a controversy about Jessi's involvement in an alleged assault surfaced.[25] The professed victim soon dropped the charges against the singer, and the investigation was closed.[26]


Extended plays



Year Title Network Episode Notes
2015 Unpretty Rapstar Mnet All Contestant (runner-up)
Real Men 3 MBC Cast member
King of Mask Singer MBC Episode 35 Contestant (with the stage name "Miss Korea")
After School Club Arirang TV Episode 142 Guest
After School Club Arirang TV Episode 178 Guest
2016 Sister's Slam Dunk KBS2 All Cast member
Duet Song Festival MBC Episodes 1, 2 Contestant with Kim Seok-goo
Happy Together KBS2 Episode 464 Guest
After School Club Arirang TV Episode 211 Guest
2017 High School Rapper Mnet All Judge
2018 Happy Together KBS2 Episode 544 Guest

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2016 8th Style Icon Asia Awesome Swagger Herself Won
Cable TV Awards Cable Star Awards – Best Singer Won
15th KBS Entertainment Awards Best Newcomer in Variety Show Nominated


  1. ^ After School Club (episode 178 featuring Jessi)
  2. ^ "The 10 Year Journey from Jessica H.O to Lucky J's Jessi". 7 February 2015.
  3. ^ "KBS World Radio K-POP News".
  4. ^ a b "[Interview] ′Unpretty Rapstar′ Jessi Spills on Why She Left Korea, Struggling with Korean Culture and More - Mwave".
  5. ^ "Jessica H.o. to start anew under YMC Entertainment's upcoming group Lucky J".
  6. ^ "Co-ed hip hop trio Lucky J kick off their activities with 'Can You Hear Me' MV".
  7. ^ "Mnet to Launch Korea's First-Ever Female Rapper Survival Show "Unpretty Rapstar" - Soompi".
  8. ^ "And the winner of 'Unpretty Rapstar' is....?".
  9. ^ "J.Y. Park Gives PSY a Run for His Money With Ode to Big Butts, 'Who's Your Mama?'".
  10. ^ "J.Y. Park's "Who's Your Mama" tops 7 charts in first place". 15 April 2015.
  11. ^ "유재석 "제시, 쌍꺼풀 수술 전이 훨씬 예뻐"".
  12. ^ {KBS Happy Together} Suzy, Jessi, Seo Woo & more! (2015.04.23) Archived 2015-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Jessi to Make a Hip Hop Comeback". soompi. Retrieved 2015-09-04.
  14. ^ "Go see Unpretty Rapstar's Jessi at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on October 16th!".
  15. ^ "Sparks Fly Between Jessi and KittiB on "Unpretty Rapstar 2" - Soompi".
  16. ^ "Jessi Kills It At 2015 MAMAs With Her Performance Of 'Ssenunni' [VIDEO] - The latest kpop news and music - Officially Kmusic".
  17. ^ "Jessi, Tiffany, Min Hyo Rin, and more get together for a viewing party of their new variety show!". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  18. ^ "Un2verse - EP by Jessi". 13 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Jessi – Un2verse - 1st Mini Album -".
  20. ^ "Meet the 12 artists in the spotlight for Yo! MTV Raps' return - MTV Asia". MTV Asia.
  21. ^ "Jessi Aims to Break South Korean Societal Norms & Gets 'Down' In New Music Video: Watch". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  22. ^ "July Comebacks And Releases Coming Your Way - Soompi".
  23. ^ "Jessi could have become a member of Girls' Generation?".
  24. ^ May 20, 2015 (2015-05-20). "Jessi on Her 'Tough Unni' Image, Difficulties After Debuting, and Not Paying Attention to Haters". Soompi. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  25. ^ "Singer Jessica H.o. accused of assaulting a woman".
  26. ^ "Ms. Choi drops charges against Jessica H.o. for the alleged assault".

External links

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