Future king of K-pop?
In the past couple of years a new breed more like revitalized genre of hip hop has grown in popularity. Some call it hip pop, hipster, commercial, mainstream or if your Korean “blacktronica.” It’s the water down version of hip hop infuse with electronic,dance pop synths for those who are to afraid of the more creative stuff. Brave Brothers (Brave Sound) is already creating a female hip hop group Brave Girls, all members can rap. He’s even manage to create a male duo Bulletproof Boy Scouts. Group of gangstalicious high school boys with too much free time. Brave Sound is teaming up with ballad producer Bang Shi Hyuk worked with 2am. I feel a little concern for South Korea’s hip hop scene. Unlike Americans who started hip hop this seems to push the genre as a trend. Not a way of life or sub culture that has reshape the industry. In the U.S seems the genre has forgotten its roots also. Artists like Far East Movement smash “Like A G6” topped Billboard charts. Including Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Pit Bull etc….are ushering in a new disco ear without knowing it.
Any true hip hop lover knows that party music and a fat beat goes together. The origins of hip hop started in night clubs back in the 70’s. During a time period Black entertainment was the coolest thing around. Sweet r&b groups like Earth,Wind and Fire, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye to the Temptations had talent. Music was about love,sex, hardship and good times. With a mixture of blues and classical a traditionalist composer dream land. Just around the same time a more water down version of sweet r&b took over called DISCO. Not as musical creative like r&b/blues but far more catchy to attract a larger crowd. Once disco boom every body was cashing in and on the wave of Black entertainers waking up America to boogie.
Greatest party songs of all time came from disco. Songs like Hues Corporations “Rock The Boat,” KC and Sunshine Band “I’m Your Boogie Man” to Michael Jackson “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.” The whole essence of disco was about status quo, sex, drugs and platforms. Clubbing a new hot trend for American youth to over indulge. This wave of dance fever even made it to the big screen with Saturday Night Fever. Featuring a young,arrogant and superficially obsessed Tony Manero (John Travolta) who loved to dance. His whole ambition was to become a champion dancer on New York’s disco scene. The sound track feature a slew of dance inspired genres. From Latino, r&b, classical, jazz etc… Disco had the ability to fuse all shorts of ethnic genre of music. Resonating joy and a sexual care free attitude during a time of war, black outs, continuous of civil rights and economic recession.
LL Cool J and his ghetto blaster
Towards the lat 70’s disco was loosing its appeal. In mist of disco dyeing hip hop was born.In the same time frame night clubs that once only allow certain pedigree of club hoppers entrance. Stared disappearing with disco and underground scene emerge. While DJs scratch on turntables young MCs would “rap” to the beat. Instead of singing about lovers quarrel more about the impoverish conditions of New York City ghettos. Rebelling against disco need to be glamorous. This also includes good times just more of a humble type without the cocaine. Infamous of early hip hop songs Sugar Hill Gangs “Rapper Delight,” Kurtis Blow “The Breaks” and Grand Master Flash and Furious Five ” The Message.” Hip hop was the voice of Black youth long forgotten. As 80’s progress hip hop was the new thing to trend to. Def Jam was the pioneers of hip hop that had to be louder and badder than the rest. LL Cool J ” Radio” and “Rock The Bells” was the anthem of a new generations. Even he manage to release a soft jam “I Need Love” that amplified male sex appeal and launch 1000 + female followers.
Even during this ear of side pony tales, big jackets and loud colors. Female MCs burst onto scene. When a young female rapper name Roxanne Shanté prove that ladies don’t have to admire. Can whoop any boy’s ass with vulgar display of MC power. Unleash a dis rap against LL Cool J called “Roxanne Revenge.” Poking at LL Cool J over sexual and questionable womanizer ways. Roxanna launch her career and new trend in hip hop “dis raps” along with “mix tapes.” Hip hop is the bastard child of r&b and disco creating a new monster to take over mainstream pop charts. With hip hop on the rise became a red flag of concern to the conservatives. View the genre as “dangerous to youth” Hip hop was largely concentrated in New York within the five boroughs. It soon spread across America taking over night clubs and the streets. Hip hop now the new thing to rebel that didn’t involve some guy wearing tight spandex and bad frizzy hair.
Roxanne Shanté one of first female MCs in The U.S
As hip hop merge into 90’s the sound was very positive. The genre was getting mainstream notoriety but at a global scale. Soon hip hop trends spark up on West and southern regions of United States. Along on foreign lands from England, Germany and even Japan. Hip hop bad behavior bravado and political awareness with unapologetic lyrics made it the ultimate fab. From language, dance, fashion and business hip hop was creating its own sub-culture. In the 90’s along with the continuous of care free party tracks also usher in hardcore gangsta style rap. 2pac, NWA, and Notorious B.I.G reminded everyone that “thug life” isn’t for faint of heart but can snag #1 in billboard charts. Hip hop was frightening but an exciting new venture. The need for censorship was much stronger in the early 90’s. As republicans scrabble to silence the new wave a vulgarity.
Despite Parental Guidance stickers being slam hip hop became a dominate fixture in American mainstream pop. In other nations a tool of musical discovery to bring forth some diversity. In South Korea artist like Stevie Yoo few famous Korean musicians that happen to be an MC. While other groups like Drunken Tiger and Seo Taiji and Boyz brought forth 90’s style hip hop with less violent content. Sechs Kies few idol base hip hop groups to converge on a young Korean pop scene. Soon it became a popular trend to have “rappers” in idol pop groups. Most cookie cutter like YG’s 1tym to SM’s Shinhwa would have members who rap. While hip hop in Japan seem to have started in the mid 80’s. Like in the United States started as an underground club scene that soon spread into mainstream. MC’s turn soloist Zeebra to duo groups like m-Flo turn Japanese youth on. Just like in South Korea mainstream pop acts like Kat-Tun also use rap and hip hop beats in their J-pop songs.
The way Asians mainland use hip hop as a stepping stone more than a genre of its own. Those who are underground find themselves catering to a crave than any thing else. An insult to those who truly have love for the game and isn’t some jaded admire. American hip hop has always been two worlds. U.S in financial turmoil people would rather listen to mediocre superficial materialistic pulp than anything of intelligence. Artists like Pit Bull who started out as a hardcore rapper broke down and started producing party hits. Even the most baddest of MC’s in the game today, Lil Wayne, has his fair share of pop B.S with “Lollipop.”
Teddy Park comprising his ability as a hip hop producer to appeal more for higher sales?
Black Eyed Peas showed a dramatic change with “Boom Boom Pow.” Wil.I.Am fixate on making electronic pop dance music as “way of the future.” Even groups like YG’s 2ne1 To Anyone wonders if this is the only future hip hop has on foreign lands. Producer Teddy Park over zealous usage of auto-tune only amplified 2ne1’s presence in K-pop. Using T-pain’s musical philosophy “auto-tune your friend” while trying to be innovating like Timbaland. Teddy Park swirl of western beat samples fuse with sugary dance pop but noticeable hip hop appeal. Fans simply ate it up making hip hop more of consumerism than humanistic radical ideals. Even groups like Big Bang are critical acknowledge for making such an artificial sound so popular. As South Korea economic situation is on the rise its evident Korean pop singers are reaping the rewards.
Brave Sound wants to be the next who can do it more better than what YG manage to poop out. Funny how both Brave Sound and Teddy Park never heard of Jay-z “Death of Auto-tune”(DOA) seem so willing to throw themselves to the wolves. As Koreans march into club tracks one could think this could be a financial accomplishment but also musical down fall in disguise. One thing about pop music is how its socially so dissociative to its very own listeners. In the 70’s American producers were so willing to feed such a hungry beast (disco). For a brief ten years it WAS the trend until people awoken from their drunken/drug fuel psychosis. Those producers and majority of the musicians perish in the shattered glass of society’s vanity. If it wasn’t for disco dying a horrible death hip hop wouldn’t be here. So maybe Koreans need to exercise the need to shake that booty and whine about relationship bores. Maybe they need to superficially value themselves and provoke false immature bravado. So they can get to the core of what music is and not how record labels choose to sell it.
K-pop has not stray from its roots of polish boy/girl pop bands. Just that those people who are idols are becoming more self-aware. As fans demand better and more creative ventures not just from producers like Brave Sound and Teddy Park but the musicians themselves. As America goes through a second phase of disco this time if you’re broke still have fun and be famous among your peers. So maybe blacktronica is about stupid fun until subconscious of youth matures. I have to give props to artists like Dumbfoundead, Jay-z, Lupe Fiasco, The QUIET, Verbal Jint, etc… reminding hip hop isn’t dead just will need serious rehab later. I feel fine to creep in both worlds and have no shame if blacktronica dies a horrible death by 2021. It was a good run lets just hope those bands/artists can reach their full potential before masses have their fill and “move on to the next”.
Photo Credit: Brave Sound last.fim ,LL Cool J (google), Roxanna Shante getty images Teddy Park 2ne1 TV Season 2 *don’t claim copyrights on photos*