‘He is for us’: K-pop artist BM pushes boundaries and elevates fans for first solo tour

BM performs in the East Village.
BM performs in the East Village.
Photo by Amanda Moses

It was not a typical Tuesday night outside of East Village’s infamous Webster Hall, over a thousand fans dressed in their most seductive attire, ready for what they hoped to be an unforgettable night seeing South Korean American Rapper Big Matthew’s (BM) first solo concert, The After Party Tour (ATAP). 

BM is not a standard K-Pop artist, his unfiltered and unapologetic rap songs pushes boundaries in his first solo tour, which is shrouded in mystery and rumors of surprise guest appearances. A night of fun and a little bit of debauchery, it was a show to remember with stellar opening performances that warmed up the crowd by the likes of Club Boybnd and Sunkis.  

Fans mused whether BM would provide a Vegas-style, one-man Chippendales K-Pop experience since the performance was catered to be an adults 21+ affair with phones being prohibited.  Many supporters shared that they believe that BM is breaking the mold and stereotypes by paving way in the American music industry for Asian men not to be seen as cute glittery gods, but humans with a grittiness that underscores body positivity, mental wellness, inclusivity, and perfect imperfections.

Fans of the K-Pop artist BM.Photo by Amanda Moses

“It’s very different from what you’d expect from K-Pop,” Feraz K., 35, said. 

The New York City native told amNewYork Metro he was first introduced to K-Pop during the pandemic; however, he felt that he couldn’t fully latch onto this style of music that can sometimes be over the top cutesy. Then he heard Kard, a South Korean co-ed group featuring BM, J. Seph, Somin, and Jiwoo. It was through BM’s raw rap style and his musical compositions that he became a lifelong fan.

CLUB BOYBND opened for BM at Webster Hall on May 21.Photo by Amanda Moses

“I never thought I’d be here, but Kard is what did it. BM’s larger-than-life personality that he is. He has an energy and because he is American, he can connect with us better. So, it’s the driving factor of why I wanted to come to this concert. I know he’s going to make things electric,” Feraz K. said. “His energy, how he synergizes with his group, they make me feel happy overall.” 

Feraz K. added that BM’s work in spreading awareness for mental wellbeing is also what made him become such a staunch supporter. In addition to being a rapper, dancer and composer BM has modeled himself as an advocate for mental wellness through his participation in Mindset by DIVE STUDIOS, a selfcare community that focuses on storytelling with artists. 

BM Photo by Amanda Moses

“They talk about topics that you don’t normally hear. Things like abuse, how your ethnicity affected you growing up in a certain way. He is able to go there and relate to us with his own experiences and that means a lot because you see yourself in that frame of mind,” Feraz K. added.   

BM has also discussed through Mindset that his name comes from a time growing up in Los Angeles where he was considered chunky, and earned the moniker Big Matthew. Understanding what it’s like to both grow up dealing with body insecurity as well as in a diverse community, BM makes sure to empower his fans making them feel beautiful no matter their ethnicity or size. 

His dedication to fans by connecting with them has cultivated a positive message and genuineness gives supporters like Alana Batdorf confidence and makes her feel beautiful in her own skin. 

Fans of BM. Photo by Amanda Moses

“I like the way he does things, and he is just himself and that’s something I often struggle with. I really appreciate him for that,” Batdorf said. 

Whitney Davidson-Rhodes, 37, and Kalani Ferguson, 28, believe that BM is the perfect depiction of someone who should be underscored for AAPI Heritage Month with his dedication to his fans and message. 

Sunkis opened for BM at Webster Hall on May 21.Photo by Amanda Moses

“He is not afraid to be who he is,” Davidson-Rhodes said. “I think he more than just paving way for other artists I hope we see more Asian American artists coming up being more famous in the US industry.”

“Look at all of us here. We are such a diverse group of people across gender and race spectrums and that is an unifying thing for him as an artist but also just K-Pop in general. He is for us,” Ferguson added. 

The last two stops on the After Party Tour will be Atlanta on May 23 and Washington D.C. on May 25. 

BMPhoto by Amanda Moses