KPOP has become a major musical force in the world, for its catchy tracks, flashy videos, and sometimes outlandish stylings. Nonetheless, it’s brought a newfound sense of pride for some Koreans around the world. But another sub-culture of music from Korea is also making a big come back: hip-hop. Korean hip-hop, as mentioned in some of my previous posts has experienced ups and downs over the years, but now, many rookies and veterans are keeping scene alive and well in Korea and getting exposure around the world thanks to the Internet.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to five producers I feel have been the most influential on Korea’s hip-hop and rap scene. These five have brought distinct styles to the scene and have made it what it is today. With this, I hope to bring more global exposure to a scene that has long been underrated.
As many of you know, I’ve covered him before in one of my previous posts, but for those who aren’t familiar with him, I’ll give you the low-down. Enter 30 year old Amoeba Culture producer Primary. Active since the mid-2000s both as a solo producer and as a collaborator for several project and groups (Primary & Mild Beats with producer Mild Beats; Primary Skool with session band and producer Score; and Primary Score with producer Score), he has become a well-established household name in Korea. Producer behind artists like Infinite-H, K.Will, Junggigo, Yankie, Zion.T and more, he has made the old-school organic band sound popular in Korean hip-hop, which has become his trademark as a producer. He is also responsible helping make artists like Zion.T, Jinbo, Dok2, Dynamic Duo, Supreme Team and others even more popular now with the spread of Korean pop culture on a global level.
Not many people know, but this 26-year old producer is also a rapper, but he is also more well known for having been one of the driving forces behind the now defunct hip-hop label Soul Company. Now an in-house producer for Jungle Entertainment, Loptimist has continued to bring his jazz, funk and alternative style of hip-hop beats to the forefront of Korean hip-hop. Having working with the likes of RHYME-A-, Simon D., Tablo, Yankie, Mad Clown, Jinbo, Braille, Dead’P, and more, Loptimist is yet another example of a go-to producer for his style of organic hip-hop.
This 30-year old producer is no stranger to the scene; while more involved in the underground scene than in mainstream hip-hop, Soriheda has also brought an organic touch to hip-hop and has made himself one of the driving forces for underground producers. While his work is more rooted in jazz hip-hop (similar to the works of producer ShimmyTwice), Soriheda has a more classy, yet ambient feel to his work. Having featured the likes of Palo Alto, B-Free, Minos, Okasian, Saetbyeol, and Deepflow, among others, he’s established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Another Soul Company alumnus, this 28-year year old producer and rapper, also co-CEO of Illionaire Records, has made a name for himself since quite a few years back. His distinct rapping flow and also very classy beats has made him one of the most recognized mainstream rap producers in Korea. Having worked with quite a bunch of big names including Jay Park, Dok2, Verbal Jint, Kebee, Loquence, E-Sens, Tiger JK, Jerry K., MC Meta and more, The Quiett is one of the biggest names in Korea right now and may very well continue to be so.
Last but not least, this rookie rapper and producer has been making a lot of noise these days. His more American R&B styled beats with a touch of Korean classiness has define him as a producer to watch out for. Having worked with the likes of ELO, Jinbo, Swings, Zion.T, Crush, Loco, Crucial Star, G-Slow and more, he’s proven that even young producers have great potential.
Once again, Korean hip-hop is proving itself as a contending force in music, not just KPOP now. Hopefully it will gain more notice and more exposure to the world for its uniqueness.