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Originally published Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Concert preview: Korean DJ Sangyup Jeon preaches a universal hip-hop message

DJ Yup, or Sangyup Jeon, is a popular Korean deejay performing at Seattle's iMUSiC on June 17, 2011.

Seattle Times staff reporter

On the Internet

Watch DJ Yup in concert: www.youtube.com/DJYup0000

Concert preview

DJ Yup, Brian Joo

10 p.m. Friday; iMUSiC Ultra Lounge, 332 Fifth Ave. N., Seattle; $15-35 (www.brownpapertickets.com)
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Sangyup Jeon sees deejaying as preaching.

As a popular DJ in South Korea, he evangelizes music to the masses.

"I want the public to know about hip-hop," said Jeon, who plays at Seattle's iMUSiC Friday night. "In Korea, popular songs are about falling in love or breaking up."

Known as DJ Yup, he can fill clubs of 1,500 in Seoul. His setlist is akin to a DJ's in Seattle, with American artists like LMFAO, Black Eyed Peas, Akon, Tupac and Biggie. And his look isn't too far off from a typical Seattle hipster, either — trucker hat, thick framed glasses, plaid hoodie, sneakers and tight jeans. In fact, he's sponsored by H&M of Korea.

"The nightlife is similar, too," said Jeon, a regular at Korean clubs Super Club Circle, Q-Vo and Spot. "People come to socialize and meet people of the opposite sex. It's universal that you go to a club to hook up with somebody."

The 28-year-old picked up deejaying on his own, working on his craft for the last 11 years. He first caught on to hip-hop when his American relatives sent over CDs as gifts. From there, he started immersing himself in hip-hop, finding like-minded artists to hang with.

And the way he discovers the latest music? Research.

Jeon can spend 10 hours straight on the computer, looking up Billboard charts, Googling artists, reading their websites and playing their videos.

"I like seeing what other people listen to," said Jeon, whose personal favorites include hip-hop and electro-house rock. "I like to see how other artists engage a crowd. ... My job as a DJ is to be receptive to the crowd, to adjust in a way that I can please everybody."

He has toured the U.S. and Seattle before, with stints in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Kansas. But his most memorable was the Las Vegas club Avalon. His show was on the very day his idol, Nate Dogg, died.

"It was amazing getting props from Nate Dogg's own hometown," said Jeon, in Korean through a translator.

Jeon said it's an uphill battle for Asian artists to get recognized, but he wants to continue touring and become a producer someday.

"I catch things on pretty quick," said Jeon. "And I want to catch on in America."

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

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