Alumna KJ Park meets famous German rapper Cro

UC Berkeley student KJ Park, ‘11, is living in Germany for the summer, where she is doing research on pharmaceutical wastewater treatment at the University of Stuttgart.  

She recently experienced what she calls the luckiest thing that’s ever happened to her: a layover in Copenhagen before she boarded a flight with Cro, a German rapper.  

She was first exposed to Cro while she was studying abroad in Germany in 2011.   

Q: When did you first hear about Cro?  

A: My host brothers used to play his music all the time at home, so I naturally started listening to him, too.

Q: What do you think of his music?  

A: (It’s) really catchy, and I think he writes most (if not all) of his music, which is really impressive, especially because his lyrics are really clever and his songs are really good.

He is obviously extremely talented.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you sat next to the man?  

A: I was sitting in my seat first, and then he came in later with this huge crowd, and he sat next to me and said, “Hi, I’m Carlo. What’s your name?”

And my initial thought was, “Okay, uh… He is cute but also super weird.”

And so then I didn’t really talk to him for a while.

Q: What happened next?

A: So I honestly thought he was some cute rando who was traveling with his buddies, so I asked him “Are you guys coming back from a trip together?”

He told me he was a musician from Germany and was coming back from his concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow. And I asked him what the name of the band was, and he said “Cro.”

And I was just like, “Uhm…what?” I didn’t believe him at first. I was so shocked that I actually started shaking! And I wasn’t even that big of a fan of him! Now I understand why some fans cry when they see their favorite artist.

Q: Were you nervous talking to him?  

A: Not really. He was so humble and weird.

He was just a typical boy. He complained a lot, and he and his friends talked in German about hot girls (thinking that I wouldn’t understand because he thought I didn’t speak German. He was embarrassed later.).

I guess famous dudes are still dudes. He took my water gun at one point (Don’t ask me why I was carrying around a water gun on the plane!) and started shooting all of his friends. So he was definitely a weirdo.

Q: What did you talk about for the hour-long flight?

A: We just talked about everything and anything you would talk about to a stranger sitting next to you on the plane. We talked about where he came from, and how he started getting into music and stuff.

He also asked me a lot of questions, like how Berkeley is and what I’m doing in Germany, etc.

And before we got off the plane, he got his camera out and took a selfie with me! I felt like such a cool person.

Q: I Googled Cro to see what he looked like, and almost all of the results showed him wearing a panda mask. What’s the story behind that?

A: So, theoretically, nobody knows what he looks like. He’s never revealed his face to public or on media, so he is kind of like this faceless man who always wears a panda mask. So it’s really cool that I got to see his real face! I get to be one of the few people who know what he looks like.

Also, he was really good looking, so I don’t know why he hides it with a mask. It’s kind of a waste of his handsomeness.

Q: So this was no ordinary, everyday rapper. Is he really famous?

A: Before we got out, he told me “Don’t tell anyone that you saw me until I’m out of the airport, so people don’t go crazy!”

I just rolled my eyes and told him to get over himself, he (was) not that famous. I was joking, but I honestly didn’t realize how famous he actually was until I looked him up later and saw that he has, like, 2 million followers on Facebook.

And all of his music on YouTube has at least 10-30 million views.  So he probably wasn’t joking when he said that I shouldn’t tell people that I saw him until later.

Q: You’ve done your research. How does it feel to read about a celebrity you met in person?  

A: I watched a lot of his performances on YouTube after the plane incident, and he is honestly so much cooler in my head now than he was when I met him.

Q: Are you going to go and buy all of his songs now (if you haven’t already)?

A: I already downloaded all of his music! I can’t believe I met him. He is on a tour right now, so I might go to one of his concerts in Germany!

Q: Oh, speaking of Germany, I should ask you what you’re researching there!   

A: In recent years, there has been an emerging problem with the contamination of surface water by pharmaceuticals, as it is very harmful to the aquatic environment. The traditional wastewater treatment doesn’t effectively get rid of different chemicals that are used in medicine. And there are many different ways to approach this problem.

I get to explore how different intensities of UV light affect the degradation of certain pharmaceutical chemicals.


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