KOREAN HIP-HOP: A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE CULTURE
By MIRCEAN RALUCA-IOANA
I am sure all of you heard about hip-hop at least once, especially as dancers, or people interested in dance or music in general. Throughout this article I am going to introduce you to the stories behind hip-hop, especially Korean Hip-Hop (also known as K Hip-Hop)
How it all started
Firstly, Korean Hip-Hop is distinguished from American Hip-Hop not only by music orientations, lyrics and styles, but also by its culture and starting points. American Hip-Hop first started in early 70’s in the city of Bronx, out of minorities protesting in the streets by rapping on self made beats, painting on the walls (graffitti), and later on dancing and organising dance battles where they could express themselves. In Korea, the hip-hop culture started in the late 80’s and early 90’s, after the end of authoritarian military rule in Korea, when the culture in general began to open up more and global music styles were brought in by the diaspora.
Different from American Hip-Hop, in Korea it didn’t start with DJing and rapping, it started with dancing. The first significant encounter with hip hop was when the clubs in Itaewon, clubs have opened for koreans as well (as they were previously opened only for American soldiers, Itaewon being near the U.S base in Yongsan). Koreans that were interested in dance often went to those clubs to show their skills. A very well known club is the Moon Night club, where dance battles in american style (mostly BBoying) were hosted weekly. The pioneers of K Hip-Hop (including Seo Taiji and The Boys, Deux, Clon, etc.) started their journeys in this club.
The first Hip-Hop Star of Korea
The first famous hip hop artist was Hyeon Jin Yeong, who was one of the best dancers in the history of Moon Night. Not only that, he was the first ever project of Lee Soo Man, who later on founded SM Entertainment, the global sensation being in charge of some of the biggest names in the KPop industry at the moment. This project called “Hyeon Jin Yeong and the Wawa” made its debut in 1992, consisting of one singer and back up dancers. Seo Taiji and The Boys continued this formula, and later on, a group made of on only dancers appeared on the hip-hop scene (Deux)
The first original Korean Hip-Hop songs and artists.
The first rap song written and composed in korean by a korean artist was “Kimsatgat” (김삿갓), by Hong Seo Bom (홍서범) in 1989, and the first rap song that got the public’s eye and gained a certain level of popularity was “The Story I Want To Tell You” (너에게 들려주고 싶은 이야기), by 015B.
Although a dance based project, Deux “was the first meaningful archetype of a hip-hop artist in Korean pop music”, their music being a korean reinterpretation of American Hip-Hop. This genre represents the base of modern K-Pop.
3 Legends of Korean Hip-Hop
Vulture, A Brief History of Korean Hip-Hop (January, 2019): https://www.vulture.com/2019/01/a-brief-history-of-korean-hip-hop.html
Koreaboo, 14 Korean Hip Hop Artists You Neet To Be Listening To (14th January,2017): https://www.koreaboo.com/stories/14-korean-hip-hop-artists-you-need-to-be-listening-to/