Korea’s hybrid music surpasses Western music for the first time as the biggest genre in the United States. Jay Park, the Korean-American Hip-hop artist, is now established as the Hip-hop and R & B leader all across the globe. In 2018, after Jay Park released his second album, H1GHR MUSIC, his success grew significantly. There is no surprise that the former Korean bands like BigBang and 2ne1, and the new bands like BTS have become a global sensation. Their music sees no limitations in solidifying relations with millions of people globally by speaking the people’s language. It’s true when people say that music has no language barrier.
The music industry is making billions by producing highly processed, bubble-gum flavored, and slick music every day. Let’s consider Korean pop; for instance, the artists have dynamically changed in the past few years. The Korean music wave has swallowed everyone with the R&B and hip-hop labels coming into the spotlight. R&B and Hip hop aren’t new to the Korean industry; however, looking back at its traces, the development of the genre started with the Seo Taiji & the Boys. The music group was considered one of the top bands in 1992 in South Korea. Later, they started producing hybrid music. They combined different elements with hip hop and R & B to produce music in the United States and completely revolutionize the music industry. They broke the Japanese folk and rock music dominance in the United States Music Charts. By the time the bands separated their ways, Korean music had already boomed with R&B, hip hop, and rap.
The Music Genre that Knows No Bounds
Music has no boundaries or limitations, not even in cultural regards. South Korea is a country that produces music that knows no bounds. It is accepted globally as the industry’s music gets you hooked despite not understanding the language of the lyrics. The wave is quite often underrated, as artists put a lot of effort into bringing it under the spotlight. Korean Hip hop and R & B are catching the attention of Western artists like Honne, Gallant, and Zak Abel.
South Korea’s soft power gained much momentum as time passed and eventually became the ‘Next Big Thing.’ Korea’s R&B moves at a much slower pace as compared to hip hop. The genres are mostly used by the artists in their labels. The R&B and hip-hop artists are mostly independently producing and promoting. In 2015, Zion.T singles like “Just,” which featured popular R&B artist Crush and “Eat,” beat out more established artists. He won Best Vocal Performance and Best Collaboration at Korea’s music industry’s year-end music awards. His debut EP OO, which features industry top artists like G-Dragon and Zico, peaked at number two on the US Billboard World Albums chart.
The Bands that Introduced R&B and Hip-Hop
The communities living in the United States in 1998 brought their knowledge on hip hop, R&B, and K-pop. In the beginning, the music industry was predominantly split in rock genres. For example, the musicians who featured rap music, Hong Seo-beom with Kim Sat-gat, Seo Taiji and Boys, and Deux, featured their song “I Know” (Nan Arayo) in 1992.
The nineties era saw the emergence of MCs, including the Defconn, MC Sniper, Joosuc, and groups like Master Plan (with Vasco), Garion (with MC Meta), and Uptown (with Tasha). This made the ‘hip-hop’ stand alone as a mainstream genre in the gaze. Of particular note is Drunken Tiger, who brought the unadulterated American hip-hop style to South Korea’s industry. He lived in Los Angeles in his teen years while hip-hop movement was taking place. Tiger JK combined the West’s language and music with his social expression and culture, demonstrating the perfect harmony between two different ethnic communities.
The Korean hip-hop games again changed in 2001 with Verbal Jint and his “Modern Rhymes.” He revamped rap music in the Korean language. Following him, the hip-hop-oriented artists such as Leessang, Dynamic Duo, Supreme Team, and Epik High adopted the same music style, eventually establishing themselves as the top performers.
The K-pop Umbrella
Like Western music, Korea’s music covers a variety of genres: rock, ballads, indie, metal, reggae, R&B, hip-hop, and others. A large portion of BTS, Block B, BIGBANG, and MONSTA X tracks are inspired by the hip-hop and R&B roots.
The growing consciousness of Asian’s Hybrid music but mostly hip-hop and R&B, is opening up collaboration opportunities in the West. For example, CL has worked with Diplo and Lil Yachty, BTS’ Rap Monster with Warren G, G-Dragon has collaborated with Missy Elliott, Krizz Kaliko, and Wale, R&B singer DEAN, creates tracks with Syd Tha Kid and Eric Bellinger – to name a few.
This has also opened up opportunities for many independent artists to rise as well. Taking the example of the Korean-American artist like Sang Min Lim, some artists gained millions of followers. His songs’ have a combination of Korean and English lyrics. His genres include electropop music, pop music, alternative R&B music styles, and hip-hop music. The artist has released five songs, ‘Fantasy,’ ‘Remember,’ ‘Levitate,’ ‘Follow’ and ‘Myself,’ which mostly reflect Western culture. His songs have featured famous dancers like Dytto and are directed by Chris Wood.
The Rising Demand of K-pop
The demand for K-pop is reaching the Western and Eastern shores. In 2012, Jay Park performed in Sydney and Melbourne to promote his album ‘New Breed.’ One of the very first hip-hop and R&B concerts to be held in Australia. Rappers like DOK2 and Beenzino from ILLIONAIRE Records also made an appearance in Sydney. Other Hip-hop artists from Show Me The Money, Microdot , and BewhY performed across the West. Korea’s R&B and hip-hop is dominating the Grammy Awards and Billboard Charts.