Throwback Thursday: Best of DEAN
It’s pretty much an undisputed fact that DEAN is a king when it comes to the Korean R&B scene, some even heralding him as the R&B prince of Asia. With some of the smoothest vocals in the industry, it’s hard not to fall for his voice upon the first listen of literally any of his releases. A man of many talents, DEAN actually started out as a producer for other artists under the moniker Deanfluenza back in 2015 but has since risen to fame as a solo artist in Korea, the United States, and beyond. The career of this R&B icon is certainly one to be celebrated, so let’s take a look back at the music that has landed him the throne.
“Pour Up” feat. ZICO
DEAN’s second Korean single—and one of his most famous—is “Pour Up,” a collab track with close friend and fellow producer/rapper ZICO. Originally released as a single in 2015 but later released on DEAN’s 130 Mood: TRBL mini-album, the song has a sound not quite like any other: it’s dark, gritty, and haunting in a way that stays with you even when the song ends. Amidst DEAN’s muted raps and softer vocals, ZICO’s verse adds that needed edge to really give the song a lasting impression. Much like the song, the video for the track transports you into another world, one that’s almost reminiscent of film noir with foreboding black-and-white scenes of DEAN and a mysterious woman.
“D (half moon)” feat. Gaeko
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “D (half moon)” as this song garnered DEAN multiple nominations and even a win for “R&B Track of the Year” at the 2017 Korean Hip-Hop Awards. With a vintage edge to it as the artist sings of how dull life is from losing his love, this release is quintessential DEAN between his smooth vocals, the jazzy piano line, and a laid-back beat. Add to that a verse from rapper Gaeko of Dynamic Duo to build up to the song’s climax and you have a classic for years to come.
“Come Over” feat. Baek Yerin
Switching it up from the previously mentioned darker releases is DEAN’s 2017 single, “Come Over,” a duet with Baek Yerin of 15&. Featuring one of the heaviest beats in DEAN’s discography layered over a simple, almost old-timey piano hook that continues throughout the entire song, this track is one of the artist’s catchiest. Pair that with DEAN’s and Baek Yerin’s complementary lilting vocals and you have an instant earworm. Similarly simple in design, the music video for this song features only scribbles of a man and a woman continually dancing around each other until fate intervenes in the end when they finally meet.
Released in early 2018, “instagram” is another of DEAN’s more upbeat releases despite its melancholic lyrics as he sings of fake happiness filtered through Instagram feeds. Social media—despite its all-consuming presence in today’s society—is a facade at best, leading us to measure our success and happiness against that of those whose lives are only presented to us on the surface. With its easy beat and acoustic tones, the song sounds like something you’d listen to on a lazy Sunday morning while, you guessed it, scrolling through Instagram.