The Ritz Herald
L-R: Daniel Ochefu, Sammy Inglesias, HULKSICKO!, Coco Fernandez, Carlos Chavez. © Henry Saenz

COVID-19 Puts a Halt on HULKSICKO!’s International Music Career


Published on August 12, 2020

Like many others with jobs, the impact of COVID-19 has made it a hassle for those in the music industry. In early April, experts predicted that a six-month shutdown would cause a loss of no less than 10 billion dollars. As crazy as that sounds, it’s almost inevitable due to where a large part of the revenue is coming from, live entertainment. Economically, nothing can match the excitement brought to fans from seeing their favorite superstars right in front of them. As a result, the industry’s overall revenue has skyrocketed over recent years, and with concerts, festivals, and clubs out of the picture, it costs labels colossal money.

However, at the same rate that the virus has affected the industry, artists and labels are finding creative ways to combat it. With social media being the main bridge of connecting with fans, these platforms have quickly become a space for live concerts, Q and A’s plus more. So much so that some artists have seen their popularity and fan base grow exponentially. As nice as that sounds, it is almost impossible for anyone who isn’t already walking the streets of Hollywood.

So what about the artists who aren’t on the billboards of Time Square? Not often discussed is what this means for artists aiming to make a global impact. Solo artists such as HULKSICKO!, who depend on traveling internationally to network and connect with other musicians. The Bronx rapper Seyon Kpaan who just finished high school isn’t like most artists from the area, and it isn’t just because of his music. After studying Mandarin Chinese through middle school and high school, his passion for Asian culture has allowed him to expand beyond the U.S, working with various musicians across the world. Many know him for his two most popular singles, “4 Floors” and “Caitlyn’s Advice,” released almost two years ago. Both tracks lie in two completely different genres, which speaks to his ability to adapt to varying types of music as well as artists. One of these artists being Japanese producer GRP, who he’s worked previously within North Hollywood. Sadly, as the two were planning to convene in Tokyo, the upshot of COVID put a hole in their plans.

After recently signing a media and management deal with Town Business Media Group under former NBA player Daniel Ochefu, a trip to Japan would be the next significant move for Kpaan. Before the outbreak, he was scheduled to perform in multiple clubs in Tokyo in between his highschool’s spring break in March. This would give him ample time to come back and record in New York before returning to school to graduate in June. While over there, he was also set up to connect with New York photographer Khaleel Parson, to shoot cover art for his next album. Parson is also a TBMG affiliate who Ochefu got in contact with while playing basketball a few cities away. The 6’11” forward had a dominant season for the Ibaraki Robots before having to leave Japan as conditions worsened.

Not too long after did he have to cancel the flight for his newly signed artist, as conditions showed no sign of improving. Still, the virus hasn’t been the only thing to challenge the 19-year old musician from pursuing his career internationally. Recently China’s relationship with the United States has sunk to an all-time low, with the closing of the Chinese consulate. In hindsight, this will unintentionally extend both country’s border lockdown, fostering more trouble for those traveling.

With Japan left in the cold, the next plan of action would make Kpaan one of those people. After visiting over eleven cities in China during his time in high school, part of his new deal with Town Business Media Group meant being sent abroad to continue working. In the recent past previewing his first Mandarin Chinese rap song on Instagram, it seemed he is more than prepared. This new setting would allow him to increase his knowledge of the culture, and access to both the U.S and Chinese market. Optimistically, as methods to counter the virus are continually being studied and implemented, we hope to see Kpaan overseas this winter. If not, I’m sure the soon to be star won’t have trouble finding a new path of his own.