Korean hip hop
|Korean hip hop|
|Stylistic origins||Hip hop|
|Cultural origins||South Korea|
|Typical instruments||Vocals – turntables – sampler – keyboards|
|Seoul, Busan, Daegu|
|K-pop • Hip hop • Japanese hip hop|
In South Korea, hip hop expanded into a cultural phenomenon in Seoul, Busan and Daegu. The movement has been growing since the mid-90s, and has been gaining attention internationally, as Koreans have won various championships around the world since the early 2000s. Aside from mainstream K-pop infused hip hop, there is also an underground scene that has developed throughout South Korea. Online webzines like Hiphop Playa have contributed to spreading the culture.
Hip hop music
Early artists included 3534, Seo Taiji and Boys, Deux, and DJ DOC. The Korean language was used almost exclusively. Seo Taiji, coming from a heavy metal music background, often featured heavy metal guitars in his mixes, and other artists also incorporated techno influences. A few artists, such as Seo Taiji and Yuk Kak Soo (육각수), also incorporated influences from traditional Korean music such as pansori or nongak (farmers' music). One that was distinctive was Seo Taiji's "Come Back Home", with its vocal/production style resembling Cypress Hill. The first "rap" album that featured rap in every track was Kim Jin Pyo's first album in 1997. First Hip-Hop song in South Korea was Gim-sat-gat(김삿갓) by Hong-seo-bum(홍서범). According to Epik High's rapper Tablo, "The form [of Korean Hip Hop], at least, has definitely been mastered now — the beats, the rhymes, the performances, the look — it's indistinguishable from the United States scene. The social relevance, however, has a long way to go. The message is slowly catching up to the medium."
Many rap artists have been successful in the mainstream of Korean music. These include rappers such as Verbal Jint, Double K, Jinusean, T.O.P., G-Dragon, Zico, Outsider, 1TYM, MC Sniper, Beenzino, Cho PD, Dynamic Duo, Drunken Tiger, Jay Park, Supreme Team, Untouchable, Dok2, Leessang, Epik High and Rhythm Power.
As elsewhere, there has always been a conflict between mainstream and underground listeners. As many K-pop groups use hiphop in their songs, people became used to associating hip-hop with these sugar-coated lyrics. Underground rappers and their fans have heavily criticized this, which fuelled many skilled underground rappers to stick with working as an independent artist rather than under a major mainstream label.
B-boying enjoys a great deal of popularity in South Korea, so much so that it has become a great cultural export for the country as the South Korean government tries to promote a dynamic image of South Korea. South Korean B-boys say that the B-boy movement dates as far back as 1990s where young men took up the activity as a result of the lack of diversion to military duties. But it is wasn't until 2001 that they received international recognition, when they debuted at the 2001 annual Battle of the Year competition in Germany represented by the crew Visual Shock, although coming 4th in the competition the following year (2002) the Korean team Expression came back to win the competition. Since then South Korea has won several Battle of the Year titles, and breaking crews frequently appear on national television. As of 2009[update], South Korea is the world's leading country in breaking. Some of the well-known breaking crews include Rivers crew, Drifterz crew, Gamblerz crew, T.I.P., Jinjo crew, Extreme Crew, Last For One, Expression, Maximum crew, Lead Mos, TG Breakerz, 20th Century Bboyz, Soul Kingz, Floor Gangz, Universal Crew, People crew and Visual Shock.
As the Korean bboying scene became internationally renowned, it sparked the Korean government for supporting to host Korea's own bboy championship for the international audience. R-16 Korea is one of the most recognized bboy championships that invites bboys from all around the world to now Asia's bboy capital South Korea.
Bboy scene in Korea has been proactive in blending the bboying style with other dance forms and inspirations. Whilst keeping the essence of American style of bboying, many bboys in Korea have infused their own traditional style into bboying. With elements of Korean traditional dances like Pungmul (which also incorporates head-rotating and complex jumps) and Taekwondo-inspired moves, Korean bboys have benefited from taking two different cultural styles and putting into one unique style. In 2006, the apartment company e편한세상 released a TV ad where bboy members from Last for One were shown dancing to a hip-hop remix of Pachelbel's Canon blended with the traditional Korean Gayageum. The mix of cultures caught a global audience on Youtube. Since then various hip-hop/Korean-traditional hybrid music bands began to appear with examples like Sorea (Sound of Korea) which made the hit track 'Seoul in Panic'.
Korean-American director Benson Lee has captured this 'blending' phenomenon very well in his bboy documentary Planet Bboy where there is a scene of Korean bboys reflecting the North-South Korea conflict. North and South Korean guards (all played by South Korean bboys) battle out in the DMZ border.
As it is hard to have a stable income source for bboys, many crews have ventured out to doing theatrical performances and musicals. Since 2006, Expression crew have been performing a new style of bboying called the Marionette, which incorporated puppet-like movements and was responsible for influencing JabbaWockeeZ crew who have successfully used this style during their performances on America's Best Dance Crew. Extreme crew has combined Ballet with Bboys as they ventured into the musical 'Ballerina who fell in love with a bboy' (비보이를 사랑한 발레리나).
Hip hop dancing is also pretty popular in Korea. Some well known hip hop dance groups include Prepix.
Another well known dance group, is popping group K-OGS. Their member Pop Kun won the UK BBoy Championship in 2008  Other well-known popping groups are Cyborg G (Popping Hyun Joon, well-known member of the dance community), FREEZE and Newest35.
Aside from various dances involved in hip-hop, Krumping has also become popular within a niche underground supporters. The krumping crew Monster Woo Fam lead by Monster Woo has been one of the many crews that have gained a great international attention via Youtube.
As the underground hip-hop scene became increasingly popular throughout the 2000s, people started taking interests in various subcultures within hip-hop. With cyphers in Hongdae playground and annual freestyle competition/events such as Freestyle Day and Freestyle One, freestyle rapping really caught on to the underground listeners.
One of the leading artists who have been pioneering this freestyle-rap culture since the mid-2000s is Sool J. He is well known for winning Miller 2005 Freestyle Rap Battle and has then set his goal in popularising this freestyle-rap culture. He was responsible for hosting the internet freestyling show Mic Swagger, where famous rappers are invited to have a freestyle session with him similar to Rap City over in the United States. He was also the founder of Freestyle Day and has toured all over South Korea to find young freestyling talents. He is currently hosting a 'no-beat' battle show called Boxer. Other artists who have been heavily associated with freestyle rapping would include Huckleberry P (of Pinodyne), JJK, Dragon A.T, Dumbfoundead and many more.
As the aftermath of heated freestyle battles can end up in a violent manner from time to time, a new type of battle was invented in Korea in order to encourage freestylers and hip-hop fans to maintain peace and respect. It is called 'compliment battle' (칭찬배틀) whereby the competitors have to freestyle not against their opponents, but to freestyle about their admiration for them and to praise each other's skills and success. The winner of this battle is measured by the skills, wit and also their sincerity of respect. Compliment battles are usually carried out at the end of a normal freestyle battle, which leaves both of the opponents feeling more-or-less respectful of each other and prevents any aftermath violence/hatred.
- The Quiett
- Drunken Tiger
- Yoon Mi-rae
- Dynamic Duo
- Supreme Team
- Epik High
- Buga Kingz
- Double K
- MC Sniper
- Mighty Mouth
- Verbal Jint
- San E
- Kim Jin Pyo
- Infinite Flow
- Still PM
- Ugly Duck
- Crucial Star
- Soul Dive
- Mad Clown
- CB Mass
- Sunday 2PM
- Rhythm Power
- Movement Crew
- Illest Konfusion
- Royal Class
- Soul Connection
- NewBlock Babyz
- Jiggy Fellaz
- ADV (Angdreville)
- Diamond Tribe
- We Make History
- The cohort
- Illionaire Records - The Quiett, Dok2, Beenzino
- Brand New Music - Verbal jint, Swings
- FEELGHOODMUSIC Tiger JK, Tasha (Yoon Mirae), Bizzy
- HiLite Records - Paloalto , Huckleberry P, Okasian, B-Free, Evo, Pinodyne , GLV, Soul One, Double Deck
- Amoeba Culture - Dynamic Duo, Simon D, Primary, Yankie, Planet Shiver, Rhythm Power, Zion.T, Crush
- Grandline Entertainment - Crucial Star, Geeks, Take One, Rimi
- Just Music Entertainment - Swings, Giriboy
- ASSA Communication
- Hiphop Playa/Genuine Music
- Romantic Factory
- Sniper Sound - MC Sniper, Egobomb, Songrapper, BK, Outsider, DJ Young, Chuirap
- Dalnbyul Music
- 3RDDAN Records
- Absalute Music - Bizniz
- WE MAKE HISTORY - Demento, Rem and Moro, SLEEQ, C혼
- Factory Boi Production - Fame-J, i11evn, CMYK (Sunday2PM), ANALOG TAG, Lil Cham, Young Man
- Independent Records
- Soul Company
- The Quiett
- Epik High
- Duble Kick
- Teddy of 1TYM
- Brave Brothers
- DJ Juice
- Breakdancing Takes South Korea By Storm
- South Korea embraces breaking craze
- South Korea Breakdancing Craze
- Wikipedia Battle of the Year 2009
- Prepix Official Website
- Sony Ericson UK BBoy Championships World Finals 2008