David Bowie. Donald Glover. Beyoncé.
What do these artists have in common with JAY B? They all have an alter-ego.
If you’ve recently discovered JAY B through his first solo release SOMO:Fume you might not know that he has another artistic and musical side, and this is Def..
As Def.’s first EP LOVE is set to be released on January 26 via Warner Music Korea, it’s time to get to know him and his music.
Jaebeom is a multifaceted artist who expresses himself through poems, painting, and music as the lyricist DEFSOUL; as singer/songwriter/producer for GOT7; his solo discography – under the name JAY B – and with a flourishing discography as Def..
Def.’s story starts almost 8 years ago – with GOT7’s debut – when Jaebeom started to use the pen name DEFSOUL for his works as a lyricist, producer, and composer. The moniker has then been shortened to Def.
What is the meaning of Def.? Quoting Jaebeom, the meaning is
I think the meaning is cool – or excellent. I first saw that in Musiq Soulchild music video for “Just Friends” and I thought “Wow, that’s cool!” So I wanted to make an “aka” for myself with that.
Chatting with Eric Nam on his Daebak Show, the host asked JAY B if there was a specific difference between what kind of music he produces under the names of JAY B and Def.. JAY B explained that as JAY B he tends to release mainstream music, particularly songs that he thinks his audience will enjoy. He considers what the crowd will like and what people in the hip-hop R&B scene will like.
Def. is the complete opposite. He doesn’t concern himself about impressing anyone when he makes this music. Instead, he makes the music solely to express himself. When he releases songs as Def., it’s non-mainstream. It’s what he wants to do. He doesn’t consider if people will listen to it.
It was around 2016 when the music crew PARADISE was formed by ROSEINPEACE and Def. and became known to the public thanks to Def.’s first release. On December 31, 2016, Def. made his solo debut with the mixtape 1/? vol.1 on SoundCloud with the username def_xxx – now off_def. The five tracks are a combination of smooth hip-hop and R&B, showcasing Def.’s soulful vocals and production; the songs “SIN” and “BAD HABIT” feature rapping by artist JOMALXNE. This release made Def. one of the most interesting rising talents of the Korean R&B scene.
The PARADISE crew kept evolving under that name for a little while before changing to ØFFSHORE in 2018 and õffshore around 2021.
In the years leading up to today, Def. worked hard on his blossoming and peculiar discography. In January and November 2018, 1/? vol.2 and 1/? vol.3 were released. In both mixtapes, Def. explores romance in his trademark R&B and soul style. The lyrics are extremely deep and deconstruct the emotions of falling in love, breaking up, praying to get over someone, trying to get back together, and then the feeling of being lost, not knowing if it’s better to try again or call it quits.
These releases have shown the magnitude of Def.’s creativity and talent. They are also an extremely important medium for Def. as he is able to work and release music that he loves and he’s passionate about. In various interviews during that period, Jaebeom has mentioned that as Def., he’s able to work on his favourite genres of music – R&B and Hip-Hop. For the lyrics, GOT7’s JAY B and Def.’s songs are both based on his stories but emphasised that with Def.’s songs, he tries to share something a bit more personal.
The year was 2019 and the month was June when ØFFSHORE released their first EP Scene No.1featuring the members Def., Royal Dive, RoseInPeace, MirrorBOY, HNMR, iHwak, and JOMALXNE. Def. is featured on the songs “SURFIN’”, “LAZE”, and “PLAY”.
Over the years Def.’s has amassed 242K followers and over 25M streams on SoundCloud and earned his respect as an R&B artist.
A personal take on the mixtapes: Def.’s mixtapes are diaries, each narrating emotions that get it exactly right. Reading the lyrics, it’s clear that he poured many emotions when writing the songs, whether personal or fictional. In the lyrics, Def. explores and depicts romance, all the stages of relationships and their hardships; nothing is sugar-coated, all emotions lay beautifully raw over these R&B and soul songs. Def. gorgeous velvety, soulful vocals bring an alluring charm to each track.
Def. was booked and busy in 2020!
In March, ØFFSHORE released Scene #2 – Def. was featured on “Simple”, “Smoke”, and “Take A Walk”. It was a fine June when the most underrated duo made up by Def. and JUNNY released the single “Just Stay” as part of the ØFFSHORE release Cut #1 – featuring also the track “Sweet Dream” sung by Def..
Def.’s popularity was (is) on the rise when he featured on Jaebanoff’s “Callin’”, making it his first-ever featuring outside the ØFFSHORE crew. This was followed by a featuring on WavyCake’s “Dream” and SUN’s “in December (sad night)”.
In an episode of the Korean variety show Hyena on the Keyboard featuring JAY B, cameras showed a glimpse of DEFSOUL at work: use photographs to evoke emotions, create a story, and so lyrics. Photography is one of Jaebeom’s passions – he used to have a separate Instagram account for Def. (def.cnvs) where he shared painting, poems, and photography using the location “Out of Place”. It was natural then for Def. to hold a photography exhibition. Called “ALONE”, the exhibition opened in Seoul in October 2020, showing visitors moments of life, places, and emotions through Def.’s eyes.
2021 came with a wind of change for Jaebeom and so for JAY B, DEFSOUL, and Def. – artistic freedom cast light on Jaebeom after leaving JYPE and joining H1GHR MUSIC. In an interview with Eric Nam on DIVE Studio’s Daebak Show, Jaebeom said that while he used to feel that he has to create a separation between JAY B and Def. for himself, now he feels more freedom of expressions. In the past, he felt he had boundaries, now (at H1GHR MUSIC) he feels there are none.
Def. joined ØFFSHORE for a new release, Scene #3, in March 2021 – with remastered versions of “Just Stay” (feat. JUNNY), “Sweet Dream”, and featuring on two new songs, “Cold Night” and “Call Me”.
More features were added to the list: first on s/s’s “Memory” in August and then on Fudasca’s “Is It A Dream?”.
A new Def. song was released in October, this time on Jaebeom’s YouTube. This is “HONEY”.
To top 2021 off, on December 31st, Def. announced his first EP, LOVE is set to be released on January 26 (via Warner Music Korea).
It is only fair to say that Def. is no ordinary artist and there is no one-size-fits-all description that suits him and his artistry.