T.O.P in K-Collection fashion show 2012
November 4, 1987
Seoul, South Korea
|Years active||2006 – present (hiatus) (military service)|
|Revised Romanization||Choe Seung-hyeon|
Choi Seung-hyun (Hangul: 최승현; born November 4, 1987), better known by his stage name T.O.P, is a South Korean rapper, singer-songwriter, actor, and record producer. T.O.P rose to fame in the mid-2000s as one of two rappers in the South Korean hip hop boy band Big Bang. Released under YG Entertainment, the group became one of the best-selling digital group of all-time in Asia and one of the best-selling boy bands in the world. After releasing several albums and extended plays with them, T.O.P expanded his career into acting, starting with I Am Sam in 2007, subsequently starring in films such as Iris (2009), Nineteen (2009), 71: Into the Fire (2010), Commitment (2013), Tazza: The Hidden Card (2014) and Out of Control (2017).
In 2010, while the group was on hiatus, T.O.P and G-Dragon formed a duo to record and release the collaboration album, GD & TOP. As a solo rapper, he has released two digital singles, "Turn It Up" (2010) and "Doom Dada" (2013), which peaked at number two and four, respectively, on the Gaon Chart.
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Artistry
- 3 Discography
- 4 Filmography
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Life and career
2005–2006: Career beginnings and debut with Big Bang
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Choi Seung-hyun became interested in hip hop at a young age. He and fellow Big Bang member G-Dragon were "neighborhood friend[s] from middle school" and would often dance and rap together. Although G-Dragon later move away and the two "became distant", he contacted Seung-hyun when YG Entertainment, where G-Dragon was a trainee at the time, was scouting for possible candidates to create a boy band. By then, Choi had already established a small notoriety as an underground rapper with the stage name Tempo. He subsequently recorded several demos with G-Dragon and sent them to Yang Hyun-suk, CEO of YG Entertainment, who later asked Choi to audition. Choi was initially rejected by the record label, which deemed him too "chubby" to fit the "idealistic version" of an idol. He later "went home and exercised really hard because I wanted to join YG Entertainment," losing 20 kg in 40 days. Six months later, Choi returned for another audition and was signed on.
Given the stage name of T.O.P. (Korean: 탑) by fellow YG artist Se7en, he one of two rappers alongside G-Dragon in Big Bang. 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. Hyun-seung was later dropped by the record label, and Big Bang made its official debut with five members. Their first album, Big Bang Vol. 1, received lukewarm receptions, 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 the extended play Always (2007), 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.
2007–2010: Solo career development, move into acting, and GD & TOP
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. He became the first member of Big Bang to venture into acting, starring in the KBS2 drama I Am Sam, portraying the school's top fighter, Chae Musin. Despite wanting to use his stage name when acting, believing it reflects his professional side more, he is often billed with his real name, with his stage name included in parenthesis. 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.
T.O.P. later portrayed the assassin Vick in the critically acclaimed Korean television drama Iris in 2009. 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. The duo released the single "Because" for the movie's soundtrack.
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. The movie also gained 1 million views in a week. Simultaneously, T.O.P began to prepare for his solo musical debut. During Big Bang's Big Show Concert in January 2010, T.O.P. performed his new single "Turn It Up". Released as a digital single, it peaked at number two, with over 1.3 million downloads.
Later that year, T.O.P and bandmate G-Dragon formed a subunit to release the album GD & TOP (2010). 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, which was also broadcast live on YouTube. Three singles were released in support of the album: "High High", "Oh Yeah", and "Knock Out". All three singles preceded the release of the album and attained commercial successes: "Knock Out" was a chart topper while "Oh Yeah" and "High High" both peaked at number two and number three respectively. The album was released on Christmas Eve, and debuted at number one with pre-orders of 200,000 copies.
2011–present: Focus on acting, other ventures, and military service
From 2011 to 2012, T.O.P was extensively involved with Big Bang's promotional activities for their EPs Tonight (2011) and Alive (2012). After they wrapped up, he focused his attention back to acting, starring in the film Commitment (2012), playing the son of a North Korean spy who is falsely accused. T.O.P first became attached to the role because he "felt sympathy for the main character, Lee Myung Hoon." 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. That November, he released his second digital single, "Doom Dada." The song was performed for the first time at the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2013 in Hong Kong. "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." He later featured on English artist Pixie Lott's Japanese album alongside G-Dragon for the song "Dancing on My Own".
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, he was awarded the Visual Culture Award at the Prudential Eye Awards. 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. He also curated a series of art through Sotheby's charity auction #TTTOP in Hong Kong, displaying a mix of Asian and Western artists. T.O.P 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.
While K-pop is notorious for producing highly manufactured bubblegum groups, T.O.P and his group have been praised for their individuality and ability to fuse a pop sound with rap, R&B and dance elements. Columnist Jeff Benjamin of Billboard K-Town noted how T.O.P is known for his his low-bass timbre rapping, while Tamar Herman, from the same site, wrote that T.O.P's rap is "an integral part to the group's sound" and that he tends to favor an "confident, almost mocking, tone". Adrienne Stanley of Kpop Starz also praised the rapper for his "speed and accuracy" when delivering bars. Both his solo releases – "Turn It Up" and "Doom Dada" – are hip hop influenced, with the latter drawing critical acclaim for its "lyrical rhythms [that] are both inviting and alienating" from Dazed magazine, that declared that T.O.P was leading the evolution of K-Pop. Additionally, Billboard noted how the song's melody "is magnetizing with its whirring synths, tribal beats, and chanting, all of which pale in comparison to the rapper’s aggressive, multi-tonal delivery of his verses," affirming that T.O.P "revealed his true artistry" with the song.
While working on materials with G-Dragon for their subunit, the two experimented with different styles. Co-writing majority of the lyrics, the pair noted that as "rappers [...] we'd like to tell more stories for our fans to listen." In an attempt to create their own style away from their band, the duo opted for a more hip hop sound to contrast the Big Bang's current genre at the time, electronic music, though the influence of this genre along with R&B and acoustic was acknowledged. The duo also admitted to becoming "much more diverse [in their] attempts" to create their own style, preferring to mix several genres together in order to "bring out more of our character that we don't get to show when we're Big Bang."
T.O.P often edits his lyrics "more than a hundred times," and draws inspirations from "things that don’t speak. [From] beautiful and pretty objects rather than people." While hip hop is his primary music consumption, he also listens to classical music and particularly enjoys the English rock band Pink Floyd. He also notes how his role as a musician influenced his acting to be more emotional. While internationally, Big Bang is often referred to as a "K-pop" group, T.O.P have expressed distaste with the label noting how "[y]ou don't divide pop music by who's doing it. We don't say, for instance, 'white pop' when white people make music."
|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||2017||Tom Young||Lead role|
|I Am Sam||2007||Chae Mu-sin||KBS2|
|Secret Message||2015||Woo-hyun||CJ E&M|
For appearances with Big Bang, see Big Bang filmography
|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
|2010||47th Grand Bell Awards||Hallyu Popularity||71: Into the Fire||Won|
|Best New Actor||Nominated|
|8th Korean Film Awards||Best New Actor||Nominated|
|Style Icon Awards||New Icon (Movie)||Won|
|31st Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|Max Movie Award||Best New Actor||Won|
|5th Asian Film Awards||Best New Actor||Nominated|
|2011||47th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actor||Won|
|2013||17th BIFF Asia Star Awards||Rookie Awards||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|
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