2.02.2015

The Other Beenzino: Korean Hip-Hop

            

A Facebook friend  back in Atlanta where I'm from posted the video above of Korean rappers Dok 2 (Doki), Bobby, The Quiett, YGGR, and Master Wu, and said "I don't know what they saying, but they going hard". Subsequently, others commented and were shocked to see Koreans rapping with that Atlanta "trill" beat or sound. This sound has become popular in the last 6 months here in the ROK. They play it in coffee shops, grocery stores, and the dentist's office. My students, sometimes at the most random moments, come up to me saying "Teacher, Turn Up!" or "I'm a born Hater" from rap group Epik High's hit song. Since before coming to Korea about 18 months ago, I've been more or less obsessed with a particular Korean rapper Beenzino. His laid back, fun, yet incredibly rhythmic lyricism keeps me wanting more. I have been trying to get to a Beenzino concert since I got here, but never had the time. Well, I decided not to let another Beenzino concert go by this year without me being there, so I bought myself a nice Christmas present and traveled to Seoul for the concert.

               
Korean Hip-Hop has gone from a minuscule underground concept to a major force in bridging Korea with pretty much everyone else. Popular programs like Show Me the Money (rap battle show), showcase Korea's up and coming rap artists with "rap" dreams. Even some black folks have tried out and  made pretty far in the competition, spitting rhymes not only in English, but in Korean as well. Hip-Hop in Korea takes a backseat to K-Pop. Let's put it this way, Korean Hip-Hop is still climbing out of the trunk. *Sidenote*: I was watching TV one day and I saw that Coolio was hosting a HipHop show that taught Korean rappers how to be "hard" and whatnot...yeah I changed the channel real quick. Anyway, Korean rappers  make pennies compared to American Hip-Hop and Rap stars and they know it. However, their shows are continually selling out and their international following is growing everyday. KHip-Hop's biggest artists include Amoeba Records' Dynamic Duo and Primary, Epik High, Swings, YDG, SanE and the Illionaire camp Beenzino, Dok 2 Doki), and The Quiett, and most recently from Show Me the Money Bobby. In fact in March  there will be an Amoeba Culture Tour in Atlanta and New York. Don't sleep on Korean Hip Hop.

8 comments:

  1. I admit to not listening to a lot of music( other than jazz , oldies or reggae) these days from anybody it's always see stuff like this coming from abroad.Years ago when I did listen list to rap, there was a Japanese rap group ( they weren't J-rap..just rap in their case)that I did like but I forgot their name.I know them when I hear them.Still , it's great to see them and other Asians coming out doing their thing. Though there have been Asians to do rap, they're talents are often underestimated.

    Hmmm. I listened to the clip you presented on here and I must say they sound really good.. beat wise and rhythm wise . I wish I could understand more Korean. I'm also from Atlanta..who knows I might just check these guys out. They seem to got it going on.

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    1. Its interesting to see Hip-Hop culture flow through Korea. I mean it has really picked up speed, you can't imagine. I'm heading to a Zion T. and Crush concert in March...they are considered more R&B/HipHop and I'm excited even though I'm in the nosebleeds...tickets were nearly sold out within 24hours. And you're right Asian rap artists are definitely underrated but I think with this new wave and new sound, they might get some real attention.

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    2. I can understand why those guys sold out. They sound good. Out of curiousity, I checked where they were playing and I'm so disappointed because of the miles I would have to travel 50 miles to get there.

      Now Beenzino and his crew rap seem to have this modern/old school tone in their music which is why I like it. Their raps doesn't sound forced or cheesy like I hate to say ..in some K-rap music. They sound radio worthy. Maybe some rapper in Atlanta will discover them.

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  2. Ah Beenzino :) I just wish Korean rappers and hip hop producers would take some risks when making music, like not just doing what's or was popular in the US. But I really like the productions, really on point to say the least. Though I might have a preference for Japanese hip hop/rap, they take it further musically sometimes (for some artists).
    As for Chinese hip hop, I've recently found some good stuff, not as awesome as their North East Asian peers but decent :)

    @M if you're interested in Korean lyrics, check this website: http://hiphopkr.com/translated_lyrics/ or this one for the translation of Beenzino's Aqua man: http://translatedkhiphoplyrics.tumblr.com/post/35913884469/beenzino-aqua-man

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    1. Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

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  3. ive met the man and he is an absolute sweetheart along with dok2 and q. i feel like people slept on k hip hop for so long and now people are FINALLY realizing how amazing it is! even hilite is getting recognition on his take of og maco's "u guessed it." these men are so damn talented its ridiculous and im proud to say that all of the k hip hop shows in nyc ALWAYS sell out and that i have been to every single one!

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  4. Had to jump in. Korean hip hop to me well most of it is meh. Simply b/c they don't put enough of Korean culture in their rhymes so it sounds like a copy of a copy. They're like everyone else that likes black culture but without the black ppl. So I'm ambivalent. Some songs I do enjoy but overall, meh

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  5. I agree. I would respect them more if they did hip-hop without copying whatever the trendy styles are in American hip-hop.

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