Why is Korean rap so dope?

Originally published at: Why is Korean rap so dope? | Boing Boing


I’m older (Xennial?) so I’m more into stuff like RM and CL, but yeah Korean hip hop and pop are legit in their own respect. So cool to see the genre growing and evolving.

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Any MC Chris fans here? Hello?

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Korean rap is dope because it’s directly influenced by American rap and R&B, of course.

It was Seo Taiji and Boys (서태지와 아이들) who in the early 1990s basically invented what would become modern K-Pop. Seo Taiji infused new jack swing, rock, hip-hop, and electro sounds and hip-hop inspired dance moves by Lee Juno and Yang Hyun-suk to create something for Korean audiences that they had never heard or seen before.

You can clearly hear the influences of early 1990s sound and aesthetic of Black music of the time, and see the groundwork that would be laid for modern K-Pop in their first song 난 알아요 (I Know) from 1992:

Not to mention it’s just catchy AF.

When they first performed this song it was for a TV talent contest, and the judges hated it giving it the lowest score of the show. Nobody knew at the time that this performance, both musically and aesthetically would give birth to modern K-Pop. The judges may have hated it, but the song and the group’s debut album was massively successful. Seo Taiji and Boys also inadvertently created the boy band template that so many K-Pop groups would follow — even today.

In later albums Seo Taiji and Boys would infuse elements of heavy metal, rock, gangsta rap, and alternative rock largely eschewing danceability. The group frequently bucked the highly conservative Korean establishment recording several controversial songs addressing things like teen homelessness, and unrelenting educational pressures placed on the youth. The government didn’t like these things and their songs started being censored under a government policy of “pre censorship”. Fan backlash led to these policies being abolished.

It’s worth nothing that Seo Taiji and Boys’ member Yang Huyn-suk would go on to start YG Entertainment, which would become one of Korea’s biggest entertainment conglomerates. (BLɅϽKPIИK is on YG Entertainment.)

Seo Taiji himself is still performing and recording but has gone back to his roots of doing intellectual hard rock. He leads a private life and largely rejects fame, rarely appearing for interviews. This is in stark contrast to the Korean fame system where fans expect a level of “access” to their favorite celebrities (even if it’s largely manufactured). He’s been referred to as an, “icon of confinement” because of his reclusiveness as a result. Something he toyed with in his 2014 song, “90s ICON”:


I’m the faded 90s icon
When will my chance come to rise again?
Should I end this muddy delusion?

Holy shit, that’s dark.


When i listen to songs in English most of the time i can’t understand what is being said, even in genres like pop. I might pick out some phrases and words but there’s a good chance i won’t catch a portion of the lyrics, and if its rap i generally understand even less. most times however its just me not paying attention and my brain will tune out the lyrics and i will just listen to the overall feel of the song. This has made it pretty easy for me to enjoy artists from other countries, i don’t need to get hung up on needing to understand the content of a song.


I feel the same way about opera.


Wow, this is great. Thank you for exposing me to this.



Did BewhY sample the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Red Heat?

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