Hello, this is MAJOR 9, XRO’s management agency.
Please find our response to your inquiry regarding ‘Welcome To My Jungle’.
First of all, please let us offer our sincere apology to those who may have felt offended by
and displeased at the expression used in the lyrics and the gesture in the performance.
We humbly accept valuable inputs from many of you, and in response to that,
we will change the lyrics and the gesture that caused a controversy.
Please understand it will take some time to change the lyrics and the choreography,
even though we are doing our best to apply changes as soon as possible.
However, we would still like to explain the background of using such an expression
and gesture to avoid any misunderstanding.
The following is the part of the lyrics that caused the issue together with the gesture.
불러 [Bulloe: Sing it] Like an Indian
춤춰 [Chum-chwo: Dance it] Like an Indian
미쳐봐 [Mi-chyeo-bwa: Go crazy] We are Indian
If you see only this part separate from the whole lyrics,
the word ‘Indian’ may seem to be denigrating Native Americans.
However, the overall narrative of the song is as follows.
This is the world where the strong prey upon the weak like a jungle,
and youngsters like us are helpless.
No money, no power. All we have is our body.
We should be stronger like a beast to survive in this fierce world (jungle).
“Hope to be like Tarzan who defeats a fierce beast with his bare hands
and to be like Native Americans who fought for justice with courage.
So, let’s yell like Tarzan and sing, dance and enjoy the moment like Native Americans.”
This is what the lyrics is about.
(The Korean word ‘미치다[Mi-chi-da: Go crazy]’ is
also used to mean ‘enjoying the moment with enthusiasm.’)
Hopefully, you could see and understand the overall narrative and the context of the song.
In addition, the word ‘Indian’ used in the lyrics above actually has a dual meaning,
since it also indicates Indian Label, a sub-label of MAJOR9. At the initial stage of producing XRO,
we planned to release the album on Indian Label.
However, we decided to release it on the main label, while the lyrics remained as it is.
The word ‘Indian’ used in the name of our sub-label is actually a compound word of ‘independent’
and ‘musician.’ People in East Asia generally call independent music ‘indi’ music,
and we coined the word ‘Indian’ by combining ‘Indi’ + ‘(musici)an’ and named our sub-label ‘Indian Label.’
In that sense, ‘Like an Indian, We are Indian’ in the lyrics also means ‘Like an independent musician,
We are independent musician.’
Even though the word ‘Indian’ is considered as an offensive, racist term in the U.S.,
it is a term generally used in East Asian countries to refer to Native Americans not in the offensive context.
In East Asia, Native Americans are deemed to be cool,
strong and righteous enough to stand against injustice.
That’s why Native Americans are often described as an image to be admired in cartoons or animations made in East Asia.
And of course people in East Asia have called those Native Americans “Indian”
without knowing that such an expression has a discriminatory image.
With regard to the gesture used in the performance,
the gesture that caused the issue is the most typical image that comes to most people’s mind in East Asia when they think of Native Americans.
We just used this typical image in the performance with no intention to use it in an offensive way.
There are many characters in East Asia that are designed with a Native American motif,
and most of those characters are making the same gesture as the one in question.
In fact, young children use it as a cute gesture. In that sense,
the gesture in question is regarded as a cool or cute gesture in East Asia,
rather than a gesture to mock or disrespect someone.
However, we sincerely apologize for not taking into consideration that such a gesture can be considered as a hateful expression in the Western culture and that it may offend someone.
Lastly, we used a traditional African instrument to create a jungle-like atmosphere,
since the theme of the song is the ‘jungle’,
an analogy for the modern society that forces competition and struggle.
In fact, not just our song but also various hip-hop songs use traditional African instruments.
Please understand that hip-hop music is born from the African American culture
and that XRO used the instrument to express the meaning of the album.
XRO’s song and the music video definitely have no intention to degrade anyone
or look down on other precious cultures and traditions in the world.
Please kindly understand that we produced the album and the music in hope that XRO,
comprised of Korean and Japanese members,
and their songs would help people around the world beyond Asia to communicate and enjoy music together.