Zico in 2017
|Birth name||Woo Ji-ho|
|Born||September 14, 1992|
Seoul, South Korea
|Revised Romanization||U Ji-ho|
Woo Ji-ho (Korean: 우지호; born September 14, 1992), better known by his stage name Zico (Korean: 지코), is a South Korean rapper, record producer and singer-songwriter. He debuted as the leader of the boy band Block B in 2011 and made his first solo release in 2014.
Zico is notable for his crossover skills within the Korean hip hop scene, maintaining an underground reputation along with mainstream appeal as a Korean idol. He is a record producer of both K-pop and Korean hip hop music. He is also part of the crew Fanxy Child, which he formed in 2016. In 2019, he released his first full-length solo album, Thinking.
Early life and career beginnings
Zico was born in Dohwa, Seoul on September 14, 1992. He was a Vocal Performance major at Seoul Music High School. In the lyrics of his song "Release", he mentions that he spent a year studying abroad in both Canada and China, as well as three years in Japan. Meanwhile, he had referred to his time in Japan within his song "Osaka" with fellow Korean musician ELO.
He began his musical career as an underground rapper, going by the name "Nacseo" (Hangul: 낙서), meaning 'doodle' or 'scribble' in Korean. He promoted as Nacseo in the Japanese underground hip hop scene alongside the crews "Dope Squad" and "Undisputed". He auditioned for SM Entertainment as a teenager.
In 2009, he officially debuted in a duo with Park Kyung named 'Harmonics' in Korea with the digital single "The Letter". He joined Stardom Entertainment in 2009. He featured in IU's song "Marshmallow" as well as Cho PD's "Expectations for K-Hip Hop" and Jung Seul-gi's "Outsiders".
In 2010, he released his first mixtape, Zico on the Block. The mixtape was well received by the Korean hip hop scene.
2011–2012: Block B and solo appearances
Zico debuted as the leader of Block B on April 15, 2011 with their first promotional single "Freeze". Zico had produced their debut mini-album Welcome to the Block. The Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and public broadcast channel KBS banned the songs "LOL" and "Did You or Did You Not" from minors. When asked about the banning, he said:
"It's not that we don't consider the regulations when we're producing the songs, but I did often think that our freedom of expression was being interrupted. Still, I do acknowledge that as a producer that creates songs meant for the public, it was a shortcoming of mine to not have paid more attention to the regulations."— Zico, Welcome to the Block Showcase Q&A
That year he featured in Hyuna's debut mini-album Bubble Pop! on the track "Just Follow". He promoted with her on Korean music shows from July to August. He attended the 2011 MTV EMAs in Belfast, Northern Ireland as part of Block B and on November 27 began hosting the SBS-MTV interactive radio show "Studio C!" with rap duo Mighty Mouth. Zico made an appearance at Swings' It's My Year II concert, performing "I'm Still Fly" and "Cocks".
In 2012, he appeared on stage featuring in girl group Wink's song "Stay in Shanghai" on Inkigayo on February 19. He also performed at the All Force One hip hop festival on July 21, alongside Dok2 and Beenzino. On October 24, he began co-hosting SBS-MTV's The Show with Block B member P.O. At the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards he participated in a hip hop collaboration called "Beats Rocks The World" with artists including Loco, Double K, Davichi, and Dynamic Duo. In October, he produced and released a second mixtape, Zico on the Block 1.5. In December, he co-produced D-Unit's third mini-album. That year, he also entered Dong-ah Institute of Media and Arts as a Drama major.
2013: Diss tracks
In August, Zico was dissed in Deepflow(딥플로우)'s response to Swings' "King Swings", a diss track over the instrumental from "Control". In it, Deepflow accused Zico and Jay Park of only being in hip hop for the money. Later, rapper Aphelia created a diss track called "Zicontrol", specifically speaking of his frustration with Zico's guaranteed popularity as an idol compared to the difficulty of being a hip hop artist alone. Dead'P(데드피), in the track "Rap Game Control", also expressed frustration over idols portraying themselves as "hip hop" and the integration of mainstream K-pop culture into the underground hiphop scene. On October 18, Zico and fellow Block B member P.O walked during Seoul Fashion Week for the brand Dominic's Way by designer Song Hye-myung (송혜명). In November, Zico was featured in IZE magazine, and publicly tweeted about how the intrusion of sasaeng fans into his life forced him to constantly change his phone number to avoid their communications. He performed at the SBS Gayo Daejeon 2013 as part of a collaborative hip-hop stage featuring MFBTY, B.A.P.'s Bang Yongguk, and Eun Jiwon.
2014: Debut as a solo artist and producing career
In June, T-ara's Hyomin released the Brave Brothers-produced mini-album Make Up, which allegedly plagiarized lyrics from Zico's various mixtapes and previous releases. She denied the allegations, saying that the lyrics in question were in homage and that she had permission from Zico to use them. However, she did not credit him as a songwriter on the release.
In July, Zico appeared as an MC on MBC's Show! Music Core. He also appeared in the second season of the television show Fashion King Korea, along with fellow Block B member P.O. He was a headliner at the 2014 Freestyle Day concert held on August 2 at Uniqlo Ax. He also participated on a special stage with Dynamic Duo for the M! Countdown 10th Anniversary Special, performing the song "Friday Night". On September 9, he produced the music for Go Tae Yong's S/S15 show at New York Fashion Week and further collaborated with him for Seoul Fashion Week. Zico headlined The Hiphop Festa with Dok2, The Quiett, and Simon D on October 4. He also performed at the Hiphopplaya Show Weekend, a Korean hip hop festival at the Itaewon Blue Square on October 31. Zico presented the 2014 Asia Song Festival along with Super Junior's Leeteuk and Girl's Day's Minah. He also performed a collaborative stage at that festival with Beast's Hyunseung.
On November 7, Zico released his official solo debut single entitled "Tough Cookie" featuring the rapper Don Mills. He was criticized for wearing a jacket emblazoned with an American Confederate flag in the single's accompanying music video and the use of a homophobic slur in the song's lyrics. Zico's label officially addressed the issue saying the homophobic implication of the term had been unintended and that Zico held no prejudice towards sexual minorities.
2015–2016: Gallery and various singles
On February 13, 2015, Zico released "Well Done", his second single, featuring Ja Mezz. In March, he provided the soundtrack for Beyond Closet's 2015 S/S runway at New York Fashion Week. He also graduated from the Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts with a bachelor's degree. February 2015 also saw Zico join the cast of the female rap competition show Unpretty Rapstar for the second episode, as a producer. He produced the song "Up All Night" for contestant Yuk Ji-dam; the song's chorus then became a part of the "Say It! Yes or No" skit on the Korean sketch-comedy show Gag Concert. In May 2015, it was announced that Zico would be appear for the entire season of Show Me the Money 4 as a producer with Paloalto of Hi-Lite Records. After a car Zico was riding in crashed July 8 because the manager driving it was drunk, Show Me the Money said it was considering removing him as producer. Zico was cleared of responsibility for the accident by police, however, and the show kept him on. He produced the song "Turtle Ship" for the show, and it was followed by "Moneyflow", which was released on August 7, and "Fear", which was released on August 21.
In October, Zico released his own version of "Up All Night" titled "Say Yes or No", featuring the rappers Penomeco and The Quiett. He also featured on "Traveler", the seventh track of f(x)'s fourth album 4 Walls. His single "Boys and Girls" was released on November 3, and was the number one song on the Gaon Digital Chart for all of November. In November, he released his first solo EP, Gallery, with title track "Eureka".
In mid-November 2016, Jellyfish Entertainment announced that Gugudan's Kim Se-jeong would release a song produced by Zico. The song, "Flower Road", was created by Zico during an episode of the variety show Talents for Sale. The song topped numerous Korean real-time digital charts when it was released on November 23, 2016, and it was nominated for a 2017 Melon Music Awards Hot Trend Award.
Later that month, it was announced that Zico, Crush, and Dean would collaborate on a single called "Bermuda Triangle", released November 28. The song also hit number one on various Korean real-time digital charts upon its release. In addition, Zico, Crush, and Dean performed at the 2016 Mnet Asian Music Awards on December 2, where Zico won Best Male Artist.
2017–2018: Television and departure from Seven Seasons
Zico released the digital single "She's a Baby" on April 13; the song topped seven of Korea's real-time music charts on the day of its release.
On May 10, Psy released one of two title tracks, "I Luv It", which Zico co-wrote, from his album 4X2=8. The song hit a certified all-kill, coming No.1 on all Korean real-time and daily charts.
Zico released an album of his own, Television, on July 12, 2017. The album contains two title tracks, "Artist" and "Anti"; "Artist" topped several of the real-time charts on its release, and "Anti" charted as well.
On April 4, it was announced that Zico would join Dean as one of the producing teams for the sixth season of Show Me the Money. The show began airing on June 30; songs produced by Zico and Dean include "Yozm Gang", "Where U At", and "Red Sun". The team's final contestant, Hangzoo from Rhythm Power, won the season, narrowly edging out the rapper Nucksal.
It was announced on July 3, 2018, that Zico would be releasing a single album at the end of the month that would contain a song featuring the singer IU. Two days later Zico's first solo concert was announced, with two shows, August 11 and 12, at the SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium in Seoul, and an international tour planned for September and October. The Seoul shows sold out almost immediately after tickets went on sale to the public July 16. Two days later, two shows in Tokyo, Japan, were announced for September 1 and 2, 2018. On August 13, concert promoter My Music Taste announced that Zico would be touring Europe from September 26 to October 2, visiting Madrid, London, Berlin, Warsaw, Amsterdam, and Moscow. On August 28 it was announced that Zico would also tour Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City in the United States in late October.
On November 23, 2018, Seven Seasons announced that Zico had not renewed his contract with the label, while the other six members of Block B had. In a statement, Seven Seasons said that it was discussing future group activities with all seven Block B members.
2019–present: KOZ Entertainment, Thinking, "Any Song," Random Box, and conscription
In August, the hip-hop crew Fanxy Child, consisting of Zico, Dean, Crush, Penomeco, Millic and Staytuned, held two sold-out concerts in Seoul, coinciding with the release of the crew's single, "Y."
On September 30, 2019, the digital EP Thinking Part.1 was released as the first half of the two-part studio album, titled Thinking. The second half of the studio album Thinking Part.2 was released on November 8, 2019.
On January 13, 2020, Zico released the single "Any Song". The song achieved an "all-kill", topping all Korean real-time digital charts. In addition, the song gained popularity on the video sharing app TikTok with the hashtag "Any Song Challenge". On July 9, the Gaon Music Chart certified "Any Song" as platinum in streaming and listed the song as the most-streamed in Korea for the first half of 2020.
Zico is a devout Roman Catholic with his baptismal name "John the Apostle" tattooed on his chest, along with a portrait of his mother and below it the phrase "God save Paulus". He also has an older brother, Woo Tae-woon, who was a former member of idol group Speed. Zico studied at the Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts University (a technical college specializing in media design, production, and communications) between 2013 – February 13, 2015.
|2012||The Show||SBS||Host with P.O|
|2014||Fashion King Korea||Contestant with P.O|
|2015||Show Me The Money 4||Mnet||Judge/Producer with Paloalto|
|2016||Celebrity Bromance||MBig TV||with Choi Tae-joon|
|2017||Show Me The Money 6||Mnet||Judge/Producer with Dean|
|2018||Wanna One Go Season 3: X-CON||Producer|
|2019||Produce X 101||Producer|
|2019||Thinking Bout||Naver NOW||Host|
Awards and nominations
- "Block B's Zico Set for Solo Debut with "Tough Cookie" Release". Soompi. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
- "Mnet "Dirty Talk" Compares Idol Rappers Zico and G-Dragon". Soompi. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- ": Idol star producers, GD + Junhyung... and the next is Zico!". Naver (in Korean). Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Beat Kings of Tomorrow: K-Pop's Top Eight Next Generation Producers". MTV Korea. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- "지코, 팬시차일드 'Y' 뮤비 기습 공개 "고퀄리티 기대""". Korea Times (in Korean). Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- Haddad, Hanan (August 1, 2019). "Zico's Crew, FANXY CHILD Tease Brand New Single and Music Video". E! News. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- "Zico to release 1st full-length solo album 'Thinking'". The Korea Times. September 20, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Han, Sarah (January 8, 2020). "Zico Opens Up About Disrupting His Image As A "Rebel In Hip-Hop" With His Deeply Vulnerable Album, "Thinking"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- "111014 Seoul Music High School Introduction Zico cut". Mnet. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
- "Zico's "Release" Lyrics". Lyrics Translate. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- "The Letter (Digital Single)". Naver Music (in Korean). Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- "MTV Korea "Let Me Show" Block B Cut" (video). Youtube. BlockBIntl Subbing. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
MC: I also heard that you were an SM Entertainment trainee. Zico: I wasn't an SM Entertainment trainee. When they first begin planning a group, they put you through casting and a bunch of camera tests for a few months. While going through that process, there were a lot of times where I almost was a member and almost wasn't. MC: There are rumors amongst the fans that you almost became a SHINee member. Zico: For now, please don't believe those rumors. For now.
- "110617 Cho PD "Block B are kids worthy of good treatment" [MENTOR & MENTEE INTERVIEW]". Bnt News (in Korean). Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- "[News] Block B's Zico is featured as a rapper for Hyun Ah's "Just Follow"". DKpopStars. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
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- 현아, 후속곡 ‘저스트 팔로우’로 11일부터 활동 (in Korean). Gaon. August 10, 2011. Archived from the original on August 28, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
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- "ZICO I'm still fly, For혜원". Youtube. 李宇晴. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
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- "T-ara's Hyomin Dispels Rumors Regarding Her Alleged Plagiarism of Block B Zico's Lyrics". Soompi. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- "The line between plagiarism and homage". 10asia (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
- "Block B Zico, the new MC of 'Show! Music Core". Sports Donga News (in Korean). Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "블락비 지코, 노홍철 이어 '쇼! 음악중심' 새 MC 낙점". 10asia (in Korean). Retrieved July 15, 2014.
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- "2014 Freestyle Day". PlayDb (in Korean). Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "M!Countdown 10th Anniversary Special!". Soompi. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
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- "2014 THE CRY – Gentleman 티켓오픈 안내". Interpark Tickets (in Korean). Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- ‘힙합플레이야쇼 위켄드’ 개최. F.OUND Magazine (in Korean). Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- "Super Junior's Leeteuk, Block B's Zico and Girl's Day Minah to host the 2014 Asia Song Festival". Soompi. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- "Block B's Zico and Hyunseung of Beast to Perform Together at KBS Song Festival". Soompi. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
- "Block B's Zico receives negative criticism for homophobic slur in debut track "Tough Cookie" and display of a confederate flag in the R-19 MV". Venture Capital Post. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- translation by BlockBIntl. "지코 "동성애 존중...비하 절대 NO" 깊은 사과 Zico, "Respect for homosexuals... NO degradation [intended]," a deep apology". The Fact. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
He did not use the word 'faggot' with the intent to be derogatory toward homosexuals. It was used only as a borrowed word and as part of the musical narrative. If he had known that it had a meaning of being derogatory towards homosexuals, he would have strictly censored it [from the song]...Just as Zico has freedom in his music, he has no prejudice or negative intention with respect to homosexuals, and he has respect for sexual minorities. He had no intention to be derogatory towards homosexuals and would like to express his deepest apologies toward all those who were hurt by his actions.
- "Seo Taiji Reportedly Performing Collab Stages with IU and Block B's Zico at 2014 MAMA". Soompi. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
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- ′개그콘서트′ 말해! Yes or No, 지코로 시작해 웃음으로 끝난다? 인기 비결 3가지 (in Korean). Newspim. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
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