05 February, 2014

An Intro to Korean Rap & Hip Hop

a dewaanifordrama playlist [#7]

Recently a friend tagged me in a Facebook status wanting Korean rap suggestions...so I promptly spammed the status. I figured I may as well shared the songs I suggested in the form of a playlist here. These are in no particular order, and there are a million other songs I could suggest. If there are any others you want to add in the comments, please go ahead! (and they're a mix of dance, rap, hip-hop) I've tried to include as many female artists as well, but the hip-hop scene in South Korea (at least to my knowledge) is probably a little more male dominant.

1. M.I.B. - Dash Easily one of the catchiest songs out there. I can't help but start moving when I hear this song. I love M.I.B. and while I think Kangnam is gorgeous, I think SIMS is becoming my favourite. They've got some other really great tracks as well. Nod Along! Is another of my favourite M.I.B. tracks! This was one of those addictive tracks that I've listened to a million times. It has maybe a bit too much autotune for my taste (particularly because it hides Young Cream's fabulous voice! Only Hard for Me is also pretty awesome. They've got some good stuff.
2. BlockB - Nillili Mambo The night this song came out, bustered was over at my house and we watched this song over and over and over all the while exclaiming loudly how much we loved it. I am sure my roommates thought we were loony. The MV is fun, quirky, and totally crazy. Ah BlockB. Love them! And Zico is one of the best rappers in K-pop and he's had a hand in music producing as well. NalinA is another of my BlockB faves. And I also really loved their Be The Light their comeback post crazy-agency-insanity.
3. BIGBANG - Goodbye Baby This is one of their earlier tracks in all it's hip-hop gloriousness. This is also easily my favourite BIGBANG track. It's got this kind of suave and sexy thing going on that's just BIGBANG to the T. Other original BIGBANG faves are La-La-La, and 2012's Fantastic Baby is pretty fabulous to dance to. Another swag and chill hip-hop track from that album is Bad Boy.
4. Verbal Jint - You Look Good No list like this would be complete without some Verbal Jint. He's just so fabulous and kind of shy and quirky in interviews. He was on Yoo Hee Yeol's Sketchbook which was quite lovely. He often features with a singer on tracks such as on If It Ain't Love which is another favourite of mine, or with other rappers, like with San E's Where Did you Sleep Last Night? Pretty much, he's fabulous!
5. MFBTY - Sweet Dream Tiger JK, Yoonmirae, and Bizzy form this trio of fabulous rappers and artists. They've got an interesting assortment of talent and genre actually. They have a more ballady side to them to, well at least Yoonmirae does. Their interview with Simon & Martina on Eat Your Kimchi is probably my all time favourite EYK interview to date. Yoonmirae's Get It In is pretty excellent as well (and there's an English version as well). Google them; they're super interesting and pioneers in the South Korean hip-hop scene.
6. LeeSSang - Tears While this is more of a ballad/hip-hop piece, it still has some excellent raps in it. I also really love how the rap and the sung melody blend so well together. I feel like the Korean music scene does this pretty well for the most part. LeeSSang is a duo formed by Gary (who is a member of the Running Man cast) and Gil. Other tracks of theirs that I like are Turned Off the TV , Hard to Be Humble, and Pursuing the Happiness.
7. G.I. - Beatles They're newcomers to the scene and I haven't seen to much of them. I really love this track though.
8. Miryo - Dirty The MV is a little weird, but hey, this song is pretty catchy and fun. This is a mixed rap/sung track. A slower rap piece of hers that's another mixed ballad/rap piece featuring SNSD's Sunny is I Love You I Love You. Give it a listen.
9. Primary ft. E-Sens - Poison A sort of poetic rap ballad? I love it. Primary does a lot of work with Zion.T, Dynamic Duo (Gaeko & Choiza), and a bunch of other artists. Primary, Choiza, and Zion.T all featured on Yoo Hee Yeol's Sketchbook as well. Zion.T's Babay ft. Gaeko is pretty fun. More Primary. Zion.T and Choiza collaborations such as Meet and ? are worth a listen. Choiza's Going Down is decent too. Primary was also involved in helping produce INFINITE-H's debut album with tracks like Special Girl and Without You. These feature Bumkey and Zion.T.
10. G-Dragon - Coup D'Etat He's his own genre of music I think sometimes. His recent album has a nice mix of his skills, and Crooked, Crayon, Who You? and That XX are all worth checking out. His album with T.O.P. (BIGBANG's rapper) is pretty fun. Their "Don't Go Home" is great. T.O.P's Doom Dada is pretty fun and funky as well with one of the most interesting MVs to come out of K-pop in a while. Another BIGBANG member, Taeyang's Ringa Linga is also pretty great for dancing to and which the K-Tigers (a Korean Taekwondo group) did a really cool Taekwondo performance to.
11. Kim Hyun Joong - Unbreakable While not particularly part of the hip-hop genre, I think this song fits in. Perhaps a tad too much autotune, but it's catchy and has a pretty cool MV. The song also features Jay Park who in an interesting rapper/K-pop person in his own right.
12. DJ Doc - Run To You So this is an older part of the K-pop scene, but certainly a worthy addition.
13. MC Sniper - Mask Dance This track is from the OST of Arang and the Magistrate and often accompanied really awesome martial arts fight scenes with Lee Jun Ki and the bad guys. I have listened to this track more times that I can remember.
14. Andamiro - Hypnotize This is pretty fabulous dance track. Her more ballady piece Waiting featuring Double K, a Korean rapper is pretty decent too. Double K's Rewind is another good one.
15. Geeks - Wash Away Another more ballady/rap piece. There's a lot of them in the Korean music scene. The MV is also rather beautiful.
16. D-Unit - Missin' U Dance track cum hip-hop. They're a new group I don't know much about. This track is decent and I liked it enough to buy.
17. CLAZZI - LOVE&HATE Part of the group Clazziquai Project does solo work as DJ Clazzi. He's more dance/electronic/house music. This is one of my faves of his. There is another whole electronic/house music genre in Korean music and Eat Your Kimchi does a K-Indie playlist regularly that is good to check out for more Korean music like this.
18. Shinhwa - This Love Just to add some more dance to the mix (and because I love Shinhwa). I haven't decided, but I think this is my favourite 2013 track. These men can dance, and vogue pretty well as this MV shows. And they're gorgeous.
19. 2NE1 - I am the Best Bombastic, fabulous, catchy. They're probably one of the biggest, idol hip-hop female groups. Their recent Falling in Love is...I am not sure which music genre it fits into really, and the beginning/chorus is a little lame. They've got some great tracks though.
20. Swings - Would You? This is probably more on the mild/chill side for Swings, but he's a fairly prominent Korean rapper. I also chose this MV because it features Seo In Guk who just looks so dang handsome I had to include it.
21. B.A.P. - Warrior I'm not sure if they completely fit into this genre, but they certainly get the blood pumping...so why not add them perhaps? Power and One Shot are pretty great too. I'm also a little partial to Bang Yong Guk (their leader and one of the rappers), his ballad/rap piece I Remember is one of my all time favourite K-pop tracks.
22. Tablo - Tomorrow Tablo is a member of Epik High and Korean rapper. He's one of my favourite rappers. His album Fever's End is a solidly great album. Another great track on it is Bad. His personal life was plagued with controversy and craziness for a long time His work with Epik High is fabulous too. Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz make up the other members of Epik High. They made a recent comeback with Don't Hate MeIt's Cold is another great track from the album. Official MVs of their older tracks are abundant on CJENMMUSIC's Youtube Channel: tracks like Umbrella, One, Fan, and 1 Minute 1 Second. They're pretty legit.

So this list ended up being waaaaay longer than I anticipated (I guess it's true to form for me to go totally overboard). As a bonus, I'll share one of 2013's best comebacks, Baechigi's Shower of Tears ft. Ailee. (This track was super popular in Korea, but you still can't buy it on U.S. iTunes *sigh*)

This is by no means a definitive list of the Korean rap and hip-hop scene, just a decent start. If you want to know more about the Korean rap scene, this article 15 Korean Rappers You Should Know That Aren't PSY is pretty good. Ah! I just have to share another song that gets my head bobbing, Rain's La Song. Enjoy!

◀ You From Another Star: The Small, Warm, Beautiful Things


  1. Jaime the Drama NoonaFebruary 06, 2014 10:39 PM

    Such a good collection!! I've just started to look up all your suggestions and so far I've pretty much added everything to my list of songs I want to buy lol. At this rate I'm going to spend way more money than appropriate on K-Pop! This post has definitely given me direction on what I want and I like.

    Before K-Pop I never listened to rap, hip-hop, or dance. My musical tastes were more hard rock, metal, rock, and blues/jazz (especially Julie London and Ella Fitzgerald). I'm surprised how different my tastes are here in the K-pop world.

  2. I know, right?! K-pop is a weird and interesting place. You should check out the mixed-tape playlist I made for kfangurl...and yeah...the money I've spent on K-pop...let's not even go there. http://www.samsoondowntherabbithole.com/2013/07/dewaanifordramas-playlist-6-mix-tape.html

  3. K-pop is definitely something to get immersed in. I just love it so much! It also turned me into the teenager that I never was ㅋㅋㅋ Well, now we know each other ^^

  4. Jaime the Drama NoonaFebruary 10, 2014 12:37 AM

    lol!! I can totally relate to that! I feel like a teenager as I'm discovering more and more about the music and bands and genre. It is hilarious and a lot of fun.

  5. Jaime the Drama NoonaApril 22, 2015 4:23 AM

    It really is a strange and interesting place that I never would have imagined I love so much. Omo that list for Kfangirl! I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all the songs being tossed my way, not that it is stopping me from looking them all up on youtube while we chat lol.

  6. Lol...I think I overwhelmed kfangurl a bit with it too. She wrote a lovely post about it actually: http://thefangirlverdict.com/2013/07/23/a-prezzie-for-me/

  7. Jaime the Drama NoonaApril 22, 2015 4:23 AM

    Haha yeah I would imagine so! Though more is better, especially with K-pop! I read that one ages and ages ago before I knew who you were! I was jealous back then too lol.