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2016-12 04

[Special]Korean Hip-Hop from the US

Hip-hop influences the culture and lifestyles of today's youths. As more and more people aspire to become rap stars, wannabe rappers upload their mixtapes online for people to listen to. Through this process, they become associated with music labels and groups, or join entertainment agencies. Some Korean rappers are now active overseas and MKIT RAIN, a hip-hop label based in Los Angeles, is of substantive support to them. The name MKIT RAIN comes from the phrase 'make it rain', which is widely used in the hip-hop scenes as is throwing money in the air. This shows people the pride and goal of the musicians of the fact that they will earn enormous amounts of money as rappers. As for the members of the label, there are: Loopy, Nafla, Bloo, Owen Ovadoz, and Young West. The label was established on 22nd January, 2016 by Loopy, Nafla, and Bloo. Strong characteristics As many rappers wish to create their rap name into something that best contains their character and music style, Loopy creates songs with tight beats and lyrics. The name Loopy comes from 'loop', which is the repetition of a song. It also holds the meaning 'half insane'. Although Loopy has not lived in the United States for as long as the other members of MKIT RAIN, he has his unique flows that appear original in taste. Loopy won the Best Mixtape Song of the Year 2015 from Hiphop LE, an online webzine and community for African-American music. “The goal of MKIT RAIN is to bring the native [US] hip-hop vibe to Korea. We would like to introduce the new genre of hip hop,” said Loopy during an interview with Wikitree. “Korea seems to concentrate only on the fashion of hip-hop and that's not all there is to the genre,” he added. Nafla came up with his name from some words written on a fizzy drink. 'Natural flavor' combined together becomes his name, Nafla. Born in Los Angeles, he used to work with 42 crew members, most of whom are now in the MKIT RAIN records. Nafla’s rap style used to be very aggressive since it was used to show his sense of anger until now. He is currently at the stage of finding his real music style. “We knew that our first official concert, First Class, would be sold out. A lot of people are interested in our group and we have been preparing as if a foreign artist is visiting Korea,” said Nafla during an interview with Wikitree. The Best Mixtape of the Year 2015 Award, and Best Mixtape Performance of the Year 2015 Award have been received by Nafla from Hiphop LE. From the top left clockwise: Loopy, Nafla, Owen Ovadoz, Bloo (Photo courtesy of MKIT RAIN Records) Bloo used to work under the name of Daniel Prynne. He got his name from Badboyloo. He believes that originality in music comes from the roots of where it originated from, which is the United States. “Korean lyrics would all meet at a point where people have had similar experiences at school and while dating. It has to be limited. In the United States, there is a culture that makes people understand the roots to where hip-hop music has originated from,” said Bloo during an interview with Wikitree. He has strong faith and conviction in his music that he concentrates on making a piece of music that the public wants to listen to. “I have worked on the storytelling part of music so that my memories take place within the music,” he said during a listening session with Hiphop LE. Owen Ovadoz has his name from a Bible verse, 'if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also'. Owen is the generous ego while Ovadoz is the negative ego that adds up to the two sides of human being. Owen, who spent his childhood years in the United States, is famous for his amount of songs produced. He has produced so many mixtapes until now and a lot of rappers say that it is hard to keep up with the pace since he is so passionate at his work. During an interview with Hiphop LE, he said that “I am a very greedy person when it comes to creating songs. I write the lyrics fast and I spend a whole day recording the songs created." He added, "I create blueprints in my life as a steroid. It drives me forward and achieve things one by one, which motivates me to go even further." Young West has recently joined the MKIT RAIN records. (Photo courtesy of Street) Last but not least, Young West, who is from the 42-person crew with Nafla and Bloo, has also joined the MKIT RAIN as the fifth member. As of the ‘Bad Bad Good Good Tour in DAEGU’, which was a concert held in Daegu, Korea, he has officially joined the label. “I moved to California when I was young. My starting point was listening to different types of music. The relationship among the 42-member crew started by hanging out together since junior high,” said Young West during an interview with Street. “I try to create a free, out-of-the-box type of music. I want to make the listeners move and be remembered as more than just a rapper,” he added. Although these five different musicians each have unique characteristics, they come together to create a well-balanced synergy that is affecting the Korean hip-hop scene. Since they have ambitious goals with a lot to offer to Koreans, why not give them a listen. Kim Seung-jun

2016-10 31

[Special]Korean Hip-Hop

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