South Korea has been climbing up the music scene over the last several years, the nation’s hip hop scene exploded with artist like Dok2, Zico, Jay Park and their presence have been notable even in the US. Some people think the South Korean music industry only exists of cute girl groups and boy bands, well you’re wrong. We will prove that the Korean rap scene is one of the realest in the world. And also one of the few foreign languages that flows excellent with English. Enjoy our brief history of Korean hip hop. Don’t forget to follow our Spotify playlist below – and let us know what tracks we’re missing in our playlist Let’s get it!
Hip hop started in Korea in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Following the end of the authoritarian military rule in Korea, the state loosened up the censorship of pop music in the ‘80s. Global music styles like hip hop, rap and R&B started to flow when the Seoul Olympics ‘88 were held. Rock musician Hong Seo-beom’s song about a 19th-century Korean poet ‘Kim Sat-Gat’ was known as the 1st Korean pop song that contained rap.
Hyun Jin-Young, who debuted in 1990 was considered to be the first Korean Hip hop Artist. Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 “Nan Arayo,” marked a revolution in K-Pop music (stands for Korean pop music), where American-style hip hop and R&B were incorporated. It was so influential that they were considered the originators of modern Kpop as we know it. Below a video of Hyun Jin-Young, notice the influence of MC Hammer.
In the late 1990s – 2010s the power of internet has shown its magic. Koreans get increasingly inspired by the American hip hop culture, with as a result – a new generation of Korean rap artists who are translating their view on hip hop. In this period pure hip hop groups were born such as Drunken Tiger, “the first commercially successful true hip hop group” in Korea. The rhymes in K-hip hop were lacking because it was seen as too difficult due the grammatical structure of the Korean language. The innovation of hip hop started in 2001 when Verbal Jint, introduced ‘modern rhymes’. Shorter, snappier sentences, combined with English. This method was adopted by other artists. In the period of 2000 – 2010 the hip hop artists in the Korean music scene kept on rising. Albums from artist like Dynamic Duo -’Taxi Driver’ and Epic High’s – ‘Shoebox’ topped the charts not only in Korea but also in Japan. They didn’t stopped here, in today’s music we find notable artists that we need to highlight.
SEOUL based rappinrapper/K-pop star ZICO who has been doing his magic since at least 2009 but got got big exposure in 2011 where he joined a South Korean boy band Block B. His rap/singer/songwriting skills have not been ignored by the underground hip hop scene of Korea. Because of his K-pop influence he is a game changer in the scene, together with DEAN and Crush he dropped a bomb hit last year titled ‘ bermuda triangle’ that is still earfood worthy today. Also two names who have a big influence in the music scene. We now see a successful transition from rap to trap.
We must include Korea’s “Jay-Z” BeWhy his fame rose after winning 1st place on the show ‘Show Me the Money 5’ in 2016. He collaborated with artists such as Jay Park and C Jamm. His new album will be released on September 17th titled ‘The Blind Star’. We added his remix of Wiz Khalifa’s Black & Yellow.
Last but not least Dok2 (pronounced doh-Kee) one of the founders of illionaire Records. This ‘Young Boss’ climbed to the top of the korean hip hop scene without the aid of major-label dollars but with the strength of a DIY mentality. Together with the Quiett, they are the ruling team in their home country and slowly on their way to achieving notoriety abroad. They are the forefront of a new movement in independent Korean music that is proving that Korea is not just K-pop.
Without further ado check out our handpicked playlist: ‘The history and future of Korean Hip Hop and Rap’.
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