The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience discusses the method behind their music 

Reading Time: 3 minutes The UVU Review interviewed the Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience, also known as Ensemble Mik Nawooj, about their music.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN) is a group of Hip-Hop and classical orchestra artists. Created and led by Kim Joowan, they have come together to form the Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience which tests the boundaries of what the two genres are capable of. They will be performing at the Noorda Center on Jan. 26 and 27. Be sure to get your tickets to be part of this unforgettable experience.

In anticipation of their performance at UVU, the UVU Review interviewed them about their technique for crafting music, called Method Sampling, and to discuss their recent documentary.

The documentary EMN is part of, “Method Sampling: How to Build the Future Together,” won Best Music Documentary at the 2023 DTLA Film Festival in November. What was it like being featured in the documentary and then it going on to receive such recognition? 

We actually produced the documentary and to see what we’ve worked on for a number of years shown on a big screen was a great feeling. Winning the award was an added bonus.  

The documentary is an exploration into Method Sampling, the underlying principle of how we put our music together here at the Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience—we rebranded after years of trying to have people pronounce “Mik Nawooj.” Apparently, even though people are fine with saying Nicki Minaj, Mik Nawooj was where the line was drawn. 

We introduce three Method Samplers who practice choreography, mycology, and tiny house building, demonstrating [how] their innovation stems from Method Sampling. Then the film goes into why one should care about Method Sampling. Fabio Vighi, the Italian critical theorist at Cardiff University, explains the “age of decadence and crisis” we’re in and how Method Sampling can be the key to break out of the cycle of repetition that empties us from inside.  

The principal photography took place during and after the lockdown phase of the pandemic and in two separate continents. We are very happy with how it turned out.” 

In the documentary JooWan describes Method Sampling as being “The unexpected discovery by reframing something foreign…” What unexpected discovery do you think EMN is making with its music 

In composing the early repertoires of EMN, my strategy was to use only classical techniques to replicate Hip-Hop beats. Surprisingly, what ended up happening was not Hip-Hop but also was outside of the boundaries of the classical genre. Much like Columbus when he sailed to India but arrived in America. We believe that this unintended consequence is precisely how deeper changes occur. 

JooWan, in an interview with the Santa Barbara Independent you stated the reason for your interest in Hip-Hop being that you were “trying to get out of art music, which…was entirely based on European canon and ideas.” How does Hip-Hop broaden the scope of what traditional classical music is capable of? 

I don’t think the connection between Hip-Hop and classical music exists naturally. Unlike jazz or funk music which the producers heavily rely on to render the sound of Hip-Hop we know, classical music sits in a different corner of the cultural environment. This is especially true in the United States where subcultures correspond to different genres of music. 

What we do is introduce both Hip-Hop and classical to the respective foreign elements (each other) which then pushes them to a new territory that neither of the genres have originally envisioned. This is the essence of Method Sampling.  

As we face the unprecedented crisis of having to integrate various perspectives that are radically different from one another, the usefulness of Method Sampling is even more pronounced. It is my opinion that besides Method Sampling, there are no ideological devices from either the right or the left to bring differences and transform them into something anybody can participate in. 

MC Unity, for someone who has such a long history of making and teaching Hip-Hop, how has your experience with EMN differed from your previous experiences with Hip-Hop and where do you hope the future of Hip-Hop leads? 

Performing with the Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience, what I’ve been able to do is take all of my years of experience with Hip-Hop and roughly 26 years of writing, and compile it into the hour-and-15-minute set that we perform. What I deliver as the lead MC is the culmination of some of the greatest songs I’ve ever written that express a variety of life experiences, wisdom and teachings. Compiling these writings into one set is something that I haven’t done up until now. My performance in a sense demonstrates a person who has documented their growth and development in this life’s journey using the art form of MCing.  

I feel like what we are doing as a group is very revolutionary and will push open the parameters regarding people’s perception around what can be achieved through Hip-Hop. It is my belief that Hip-Hop is limitless. What we demonstrate will inspire others creatively to use their imagination to take Hip-Hop where no one has gone before. Hip-Hop will never die. It will only continue to grow, evolve, reflect, and teach us.