T.O.P (rapper)

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For abbreviations, see TOP.
Not to be confused with Tower of Power.
This is a Korean name; the family name is Choi.
T.O.P - 0.TO.10 in Seoul - 2.jpg
Bigbang concert 0.To.10 - August 20, 2016
Native name 최승현
Born Choi Seung-hyun
(1987-11-04) November 4, 1987 (age 29)
Seoul, South Korea
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
Musical career
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2006 – hiatus (military service)
Labels YG
Associated acts
Korean name
Hangul 최승현
Hanja 崔勝鉉
Revised Romanization Choe Seung-hyeon
McCune–Reischauer Ch'oe Sŭnghyŏn

Choi Seung-hyun (Hangul최승현; born November 4, 1987),[1] better known by his stage name T.O.P, is a South Korean rapper, songwriter and actor. He is a member of the South Korean boy group Big Bang and has also participated in various dramas and films, such as I Am Sam (2007), Iris (2009), Nineteen (2009), 71: Into the Fire (2010), Commitment (2013), Tazza: The Hidden Card (2014) and Out of Control (2017).

In 2010, T.O.P joined bandmate G-Dragon to record and release a collaboration album, GD & TOP. As a solo rapper, he has released two digital singles, "Turn It Up" (2010) and "Doom Dada" (2013), that peaked at number two and four, respectively, on the Gaon Chart. Columnist Jeff Benjamin of Billboard K-Town noted that T.O.P is well known for his low-bass timbre rapping.[2]

Life and career[edit]

2005–2006: Career beginnings and debut with Big Bang[edit]

Big Bang at MTV Fast Forward, Thailand, December 2007

Prior to his involvement with YG Entertainment, Choi was an underground rapper under the name of Tempo, and a childhood friend of G-Dragon, another member and leader of Big Bang.[3] G-Dragon stated that the two were "neighborhood friend[s] from middle school" and would often dance and rap together.[4] Although G-Dragon later moved away and the two "became distant", he contacted Seung-hyun again when YG Entertainment was scouting for candidates to create a boy band.[4] The pair recorded several demos and sent them to Yang Hyun-suk, CEO of YG Entertainment, who later asked Seung-hyun to audition.[3] Seung-hyun was initially rejected by the record label, which deemed him too "chubby" to fit the "idealistic version" of an idol.[3] Seung-hyun later stated that he "went home and exercised really hard because I wanted to join YG Entertainment."[3] Six months later, he returned for another audition and was signed on. He reportedly lost 20 kg in 40 days.[3] Choi was given the stage name of T.O.P. (Korean: 탑) by fellow YG artist Se7en. He became one of the two rappers in the group Big Bang, alongside G-Dragon. The two were paired with four others: Taeyang, Daesung, Seungri and Jang Hyun-seung and a documentation of their training was aired to promote them.[5] Later Hyun-seung was dropped by the record label, and Big Bang made its official debut with five members.[6] Their first album, Since 2007, received lukewarm receptions,[7] and included T.O.P.'s first solo song "Big Boy". The group achieved mainstream success with the release of the song "Lies" (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal) from their 2007 extended play Always, which topped several charts upon its release. The singles, "Last Farewell" (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) from Hot Issue (2008) and "Day by Day" (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru) from Stand Up (2008), became chart-toppers as well.[8][9]

2007–2010: Solo career development, move into acting, and GD&TOP[edit]

T.O.P performing with G-Dragon in 2011

Following the release of the band's albums and singles, T.O.P. began working on his solo career. In April 2007, he was featured with fellow Big Bang members Taeyang and G-Dragon on singer Lexy's single "Super Fly" for her album Rush. Later that summer, he appeared as an actor in Red Roc's "Hello" music video.[10] He became the first member of Big Bang to venture into acting, starring in the KBS2 drama I Am Sam,[11] portraying the school's top fighter, Chae Musin. He also became a host of MBC's music program Music Core.

In 2008, he collaborated with label-mate Gummy on the song "I'm Sorry" for her album Comfort, veteran singer Uhm Jung-hwa for her single "D.I.S.C.O." and ZiA for her single "I Only See You". That same year, he was also admitted to Dankook University, to the theatre department.[12]

T.O.P. later portrayed the assassin Vick in the critically acclaimed[13] Korean television drama Iris in 2009.[14] He also recorded the song "Hallelujah" for the drama's soundtrack with Taeyang and G-Dragon. Following Iris, T.O.P. starred in the suspense film 19-Nineteen along with fellow member Seungri.[15] The duo released the single "Because" for the movie's soundtrack.

GD & TOP promotional photo shoot

T.O.P's performance the 2010 war drama film 71: Into the Fire was well-received, earning him several Best New Actor awards at local award giving bodies.[16] The movie also gained 1 million views in a week.[17] Simultaneously, T.O.P began to prepare for his solo musical debut.[18] During Big Bang's Big Show Concert in January 2010, T.O.P. performed his new single "Turn It Up".[19] He became the first Korean artist to have his song released worldwide on iTunes.

Later that year, T.O.P and bandmate G-Dragon formed a subunit to release the album GD & TOP (2010).[20] Prior to the release of the album, the duo held a worldwide premiere showcase for their album at Times Square in Yeongdeungpo of Seoul, South Korea,[21] which was also broadcast edlive on YouTube.[22] Three singles were released in support of the album: "High High", "Oh Yeah", and "Knock Out".[23] All three singles preceded the release of the album and attained commercial successes: "Knock Out" was a chart topper[24] while "Oh Yeah" and "High High" both peaked at number two and number three respectively.[25][26] The album was released on Christmas Eve, and debuted at number one[27] with pre-orders of 200,000 copies.[28]

2011–present: Focus on acting, "Doom Dada" and military service[edit]

T.O.P in 2012

With Big Bang's members dissolving into solo activities in 2012, T.O.P focused his attention back to acting, starring in the film Commitment (2012), playing the son of a North Korean spy who is falsely accused.[29][30] While filming a combat scene for the movie, he injured the back of his hand on a glass fragment and was later admitted to the hospital for surgery. For his role, he won the Rookie Award at the Asia Star Awards, held during the Busan International Film Festival.

T.O.P was named one of the hottest sex symbols in 2013.[31] That November, he released the digital single, "Doom Dada"[32] The song was performed for the first time at the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2013 in Hong Kong.[33] "Doom Dada" earned the #1 position on Dazed magazine's Top 10 K-Pop tracks of 2013, where it was called "inviting and alienating... it's K-Pop but sly, frenetic and slippery."[34] He later featured on English artist Pixie Lott's Japanese album alongside G-Dragon for the song "Dancing on My Own".[35]

In 2014, T.O.P starred in the gambling film Tazza: The Hidden Card, based on the manhwa of the same name. After debuting as a furniture designer in 2015 in collaboration with Vitra,[36] he was awarded the Visual Culture Award at the Prudential Eye Awards.[37] Later that year, he starred in CJ E&M's web drama The Secret Message alongside Japanese actress Juri Ueno. He released the single "Hi Haruka" as part of the drama's soundtrack.

After spending the majority of 2015 touring and promoting Big Bang's materials for their album Made (2016), T.O.P was cast in the 2016 German-Chinese film Out of Control alongside Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung. The movie is scheduled for release in China.[38] He began his two-year mandatory military service on February 9, 2017. After 21 months of duty as a police soldier, he is set to be discharged on November 8, 2018.[39]


Main article: T.O.P discography
Further information: GD & TOP



Title Year Role Notes
Story of Men 2008 Himself Cameo
Nineteen 2009 Seo Jeong-hun Lead role
71: Into the Fire 2010 Oh Jang-beom Lead role
Iris the Movie 2011 Vick Film adaption of Iris for Japan
Commitment 2013 Lee Myeong-hoon / Kang Dae-ho Lead role
Tazza: The Hidden Card 2014 Ham Dae-gil Lead role
Big Bang Made 2016 Himself Big Bang documentary
Out of Control[40] 2017 Tom Young Lead role

Television drama[edit]

Title Year Role Network
I Am Sam 2007 Chae Mu-sin KBS2
Iris 2009 Vick KBS2
Haru 2010 T.O.P
Secret Message[41] 2015 Woo-hyun CJ E&M

Variety shows[edit]

For appearances with Big Bang, see Big Bang filmography

Title Year Network Notes
Come to Play 2008 MBC Guest with G-Dragon, episode 194
Family Outing 2009 SBS Guest, episodes 34 and 35
Star Date 2011 KBS Guest with G-Dragon
Night After Night SBS
Kim Jung Eun's Chocolate
Running Man 2013 Guest with Kim Yoo-jung, episode 170

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2010 47th Grand Bell Awards Hallyu Popularity[42] 71: Into the Fire Won
Best New Actor[43] Nominated
8th Korean Film Awards Best New Actor[44] Nominated
Style Icon Awards New Icon (Movie)[45] Won
31st Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor[46] Won
Popularity Award[46] Won
Max Movie Award Best New Actor[47] Won
5th Asian Film Awards Best New Actor[48] Nominated
2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actor[49] Won
Popularity Award[49] Won
2013 17th BIFF Asia Star Awards Rookie Awards[50] Commitment Won
2014 50th Baeksang Arts Awards Popularity Award Nominated
Singapore Entertainment Awards Most Popular K-pop Music Video "Doom Dada" Nominated
Rhythmer Awards Hip-Hop Song of the Year Nominated
2015 Prudential Eye Awards Visual Culture Award Himself Won
52nd Grand Bell Awards Popularity Award Tazza: The Hidden Card Nominated
2016 4th Drama Fever Awards Best Feature Film Won
Best SNS Drama Secret Message Won

Music chart wins[edit]

SBS's Inkigayo[edit]

Year Date Song
2010 April 6 "I'm Sorry" (with Gummy)
April 13
2011 January 9 "High High" (GD & TOP)

Mnet's M! Countdown[edit]

Year Date Song
2010 December 30 "Oh Yeah" (GD & TOP)
2011 January 6 "High High" (GD & TOP)
2015 August 20 "Zutter" (GD & TOP)


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External links[edit]