B-Sides: an Introduction to K-Hip-Hop
Have you ever been curious about getting into the K-Hip-Hop world but didn’t know where to start? There are a lot of talented artists in the community, and it can be hard to figure out where to even get started in stanning. But fear not, The Kraze is here to help with a quick list of where to begin your K-Hip-Hop journey.
“Absinthe” - punchnello
punchnello is on the brain for me since his latest album ordinary. has crashed into my life. “Absinthe” is a song that is so powerful in the rage that’s portrayed by both the melody and the lyrics that it’s almost intoxicating. If you’re ever experiencing a high level of suppressed anger, all of that will come to the surface and be expressed at just the first listen to this song. The scream that punchnello belts out about two-thirds of the way through the song is so raw and so emotionally powerful that it is even cathartic to the listener. Nothing is quite as fervent as punchnello’s brand of K-Hip-Hop.
“범바예” - Drunken Tiger
If you’re looking into K-Hip-Hop, you can’t ignore the major impact of Drunken Tiger. As a man who pioneered the movement for Hip-Hop in Korea, Drunken Tiger has been going strong for many, many years. “범바예” is a track off of his latest full album Rebirth of Tiger JK, and features resident rapper of SEVENTEEN, Vernon. This fresh track has a Latin take on the beat that brings up reminders of the hot and bustling summer, a nice reminder in the midst of the dead of winter these days.
“No Thanks” - Epik High
Another staple artist to get to know in the genre is Epik High, a trio that has been active on the music scene for almost 20 years. They often incorporate heavy Western hip-hop influences into their melodies, keeping true to the early roots of the genre with a heavy focus on the early ‘90s rap harmonies. “No Thanks” is a cypher off of their most recent album that features big names in the rap industry: Simon Dominic, The Quiett, and WINNER’s MINO. The track has a funky melodic line in the chorus that contrasts the overall intensity of the song, creating an interesting contradiction in an otherwise classic rap cypher. Listen closely and you’ll discover BTS’s SUGA at the end of the track!
“When” - Jay Park
A formal idol turned CEO of possibly Korea’s largest hip-hop label in AOMG, Jay Park has been paving the way for the latest generation of rappers and hip-hop enthusiasts in Korea. Jay Park himself has used the genre as a means of self-expression after being suppressed as an idol. “When” is a powerful song that features the skills of Epik High’s Tablo and sings of the fake nature surrounding the popularity of Hip-Hop. You can’t get more authentic in the K-Hip-Hop movement than Jay Park, and that’s a fact.
“Predator” - ZICO
Former leader of Block B, now solo artist and CEO of a new agency, ZICO has spent the last few years paving his own way into the K-Hip-Hop industry from his K-Pop roots, and has successfully earned the respect of both fans and other artists in the genre. His early solo album Gallery featured the intense track “Predator,” something that was completely different from what he had released with his group in the past. The song features a fierce chorus rap verse from JTONG, adding to the overall passionate hip-hop feel of the track that helped to show the new side of ZICO.