Drunken Tiger Releases Behemoth 30-Track Album as Final Farewell
The father of Korean Hip-Hop Tiger JK has finally released another full album after three years! His veteran group Drunken Tiger has been on the Korean music scene since 1999, even before some of our favorite idols were born. The group came back together for one final self-titled album, a 30-track piece that features numerous big names in the Korean music industry. That’s right, the final gift of Drunken Tiger is an astounding 30 tracks! Let’s begin breaking down Drunken Tiger X: Rebirth of Tiger JK.
The Main Highlights
The music video release that coincides with the album is “끄덕이는 노래 Mantra,” a classic rap track that feels as if it came straight out of the early nineties. The track is quintessential Hip-Hop, going back to the roots of the genre in a way that we don’t see from most modern hip-hop artists, and for those that appreciate the retro sound, it’s a great track. The video also has a VHS texture that adds to the overall retro feeling, making this entire package even more ‘90s than EXID’s “Lady.” Musically, the song has a consistent level of intensity from start to finish, with a focus on the rap verses over the actual musicality of the song—a staple mark of the early days of rap. For the older crowd, it will certainly bring back a tinge of nostalgia for our earlier music days.
A lot of the hype for this album was centered around the announcement Tiger JK made before the release that he would be collaborating with BTS’s RM for one of the tracks, causing ARMYs to build hype around the release. RM’s featured track “Timeless” comes in at 15, the final song on the first CD of the album, and may be the most popular song because of its featuring idol. What’s great about “Timeless” is that it sounds like a track straight out of the early days of Hip-Hop, sounding very similar to founding artists like Grandmaster Flash and N.W.A. It’s really great to be able to hear RM’s unique rap style in an old school setting that we rarely get with BTS’ music.
RM isn’t the only idol rapper featured on this album. Rounding out the second CD, Vernon of SEVENTEEN is featured along with Bizzy on “범바예,” a track that has a distinct flavor totally different from the previous two. Drunken Tiger incorporates some Latin musicality in the backing track of this song, adding a whole new level of complexity that complements Vernon very well. “범바예” no doubt has a more modern sound to its melody, but it also has a bit of that retro hip-hop feel, bringing together the best of both worlds. The song also adds more depth to the overall musicality of the album, spicing up an otherwise generally musically consistent album. It’s our favorite track for sure!
The Full Album
30 tracks are indeed quite intimidating when we are used to seeing shorter mini-albums or full albums with no more than 10 tracks. It’s important to note that five of these tracks are skits, sprinkled throughout both CDs. Most of the tracks also feature other notable hip-hop artists such as Yoon Mirae (not surprising considering she is his wife), Bizzy, Junoflo, Dok2, and many more. Overall, the general sound of the album maintains the early days of hip-hop aesthetic in its sound on the first CD, without much musical variety. While this could be considered somewhat dull from such a large album, it still works since we rarely get traditional rap tracks that go back to the roots these days.
There are a few standouts among the album. One of those is “화원,” which features SUPERBEE and myunDO, and is definitely a modern hip-hop track that sounds like something you would come across on one of Jay Park’s album releases. It’s an interesting contrast with Tiger JK’s rapping style, which clearly is made for the retro sound. A rap album wouldn’t be complete without a cypher track, which we get halfway through the first album in “감 Cypher.” The track easily paints a picture of a street rap battle that we may have seen in old school music videos from the days of early Hip-Hop.
In contrast, the second CD clearly incorporates more modern hip-hop styles, almost as if the first album was a homage to their roots while the second CD showcases musical growth. In contrast to the first CD, musical influences from jazz, funk, pop, EDM, and even Latin can be heard on the tracks of the second CD. It provides an awesome comprehensive sound of Hip-Hop as a whole and really takes the listener on a trip through time in the growth of Hip-Hop. I have no doubt that this album is absolutely stellar when it’s put on shuffle, allowing you to experience all the different influences without the old school sound getting boring.
Tiger JK is considered the king of Korean Hip-Hop for good reason. He was able to bring over the hip-hop influences of the West early on in Korea and help incorporate it into the mainstream, and the full album of Drunken Tiger X: Rebirth of Tiger JK definitely showcases that. 20 years of musical growth all put together in one album makes for an amazing journey through time and music. If you’re a fan of the genre of Hip-Hop, or even just the showcase of musical growth through time, this album is one that simply cannot be overlooked.