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10/31/2016 Special > Special


Korean Hip-Hop

DOK2 and his music


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Tight beats combined with lyrics are the main components of hip-hop. It is a genre of music that formed in the late 1970s through African Americans and Hispanics and it used to be referred to as a new cultural movement. Hip-hop consists of four factors: rap, D Jing, graffiti, and breakdancing. Out of the four, DOK2 is an music artist who represents one of the best rappers of Korea.

DOK2's Career

Lee Joon-kyung, better known by his stage name DOK2 (pronounced dokki), was born between a Spanish-Filipino father and a Korean mother. Since his uncle was an American soldier, he grew up listening to Nas and The Fugees. While attending an international school, he was discriminated for his looks. When he turned 12, his father’s restaurant went out of business and DOK2 dropped out of school. “My family was poor, and I started out as a musician because they seemed to earn a lot of money,” said DOK2 during an interview on the TV program Yoo Hee-yeol’s Sketchbook.
At the age of 13, DOK2 started making mixtapes through karaoke melodies and started producing. As he joined the Movement crew, a group of Korean rappers, he formed a hip-hop duo (All Black) with Microdot and became known for being the youngest rapper in Korea. Through the 2nd album of Dynamic Duo, Circus, DOK2 started featuring in professional hip-hop albums but did not make much money. After All Black split up due to financial reasons, DOK2 produced his first mix tape (Thunderground Musik Mixtape Vol. 1) in 2008, in a limited amount of 3000 CDs.

DOK2's career as a music producer started in 2009 through collaborating with Drunken Tiger, Epik High and other rappers. As he was producing for these well-known Korean rappers, he held his first concert in 2010. DOK2’s contract with production agencies did not work out well, which got him working independently. He continuously produced mixtapes and performed in concerts. In 2011, DOK2 and The Quiett announced that they established 1llionaire Records, now one of the most renowned hip-hop music labels in Korea. The name '1llionaire' is a combination of ill and millionaire, with the ambition of being the best hip-hop music label in Korea. In the same year of June, Beenzino also joined the label.
DOK2, a producer and rapper
(Photo courtesy of 1llionaire)

DOK2 Swagger

“Just because somebody is older and has more experience, they shouldn’t all be trusted. Although that person may have been regarded as successful, if that success was not maintained for over 10 years, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the advice given by the person. There is nobody in the world that has contemplated and thought of my problems more than I have.”
The quotation above is an excerpt from DOK2’s autobiography, Illionaire Life. This is the part of the book where DOK2 is defined along with his independent features. He is well known for being a sincere Buddhist, not drinking or smoking and controlling anger. Although a lot of people criticize him for wasting money, he has something to say. “I used to be dirt poor and everyone I knew told me that I would not be able to succeed through music. I have succeeded now, having overcome the prejudice of many and I am very proud of that. People should believe in their dreams to achieve it,” said DOK2. “I have always wanted to be like the rap stars in America while watching the MTV- their big houses, closets full of Jordans. I envied that. I wanted to be like them through my music,” he added during an interview with Hiphopplaya, Korea's hip-hop webzine site.
DOK2 sees his music as matjib which means a place where the most famous and delicious foods are sold. He says that large production agencies are like family restaurants in that there is a lot to be seen and very popular, but since the cost of production is too much, not having much left over in terms of money- while his music is like pork soup in Busan which regular customers consume. “You should be bragging about your money and life when you have independently earned it yourself. That’s what gives real swag and respect to your story,” DOK2 added. He wishes to buy a house in Hawaii for his father who has not traveled abroad for 30 years whilst working in Korea.
"You should be bragging about your money and life when you have independently earned it yourself."
(Photo courtesy of 1llionaire)

DOK2's music has not simply developed this much overnight. Since becoming a professional, he produced 320 songs in 10 years. Although DOK2 is well known for his trap beats such as YGGR, he is also quite familiar with boom bap beats as well. One of the songs that has both beats in it could be Air-Do-The-Q produced by DOK2 during a mission on a Korean hip-hop TV show, Show Me The Money. Over time, DOK2 has built up his reputation as a representative Korean rapper, with diligent working habits and faith in himself. Although he only graduated from primary school and did not receive higher education, he wishes that people who watch him would be inspired to chase their own dreams and succeed in life as he himself did.

Kim Seung-jun
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