INSIGHT:  KOREAN HIP-HOP | A phenomenon growing internationally and becoming recognised by 'western' hip-hop heads and influencers. Taking most of its influences from where the genre originated in the US, we spotlight a few of the Korean Artists pivotal to the movement, and its' growing global influence.

By E.N for

Korean-American artist Jay Park signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation illustrates how globally expansive hip-hop has become, and further how heavy-hitters in the music industry are taking note, targeting a whole new demographic.  Korean pop had become incredibly popular in a short period of time and now Korean hip-hop is catching up, with Korean pop idols and even US stars collaborating with Korean rappers.  Jay Park:

For those who wonder ‘what Korean artists rap about?’ the answer is simple... the same issues as American artists: hardship, struggle, money, desire, parties, alcohol, and love. However, Korean hip-hop Artists have tried to retain as much of their native identity as possible through the use of cultural references and colloquialism - but an international influence with universal themes remains prominent.

The Korean language has been perceived as a complex and scientific language. The ability to establish a lyrical flow can be difficult and sounds 'too different' in comparison to the well-known sound of US hip-hop. Earlier in the 1980’s when hip-hop was truly emerging and becoming its own genre in Korea, talking as fast as possible was considered as credible rap/hip-hop. Then came an artist called Verbal Jint, one of the first to establish his own rhythmic flow which shaped the genre for the better. He focused on using his words to tell a story to ensure his raps had meaning as opposed to portraying a ‘gangster’ like façade. He married English and Korean words together in a poetic manner and broke the supposed language barrier:

Rappers who speak English more fluently have progressed slightly faster, and some of those gaining influence right now are Dok2 and The Quiett who created a hip-hop label and signed a very popular artist Beenzino. In their song ‘GA’ or 'GO' in English, these three artists pass the mic around cypher style:

Most Korean hip-hop artists are or start as underground rappers, but have quickly become mainstream. Regardless of the genre being 'foreign' to western ears, its' overall vibe is being internationally welcomed signalling a growing western audience embracing hip-hop outside of the US.  

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