In order to make a case for Korean Hip Hop, we must first establish its history.
In 1989, Korea heard its first Korean rap song with Hong Seo Beom’s “Kimsatgat.” Perhaps the most iconic act from this era is Seo Taiji and Boys, who’s 1992 song “Nan Arayo” contained rap verses. Tiger JK and DJ Shine also brought American hip hop influences to the scene, having both lived in Los Angeles and New York, respectively. In 2001, Verbal Jint upped the ante with new Korean language rhyming schemes – a formula that changed the game and would be adopted by many hip hop artists.
Show Me The Money
SMTM first aired in 2012, with the goal of showing Korea there was more to the music scene than just “idol dance music,” according to the show’s chief producer Han Dong-chul. Notable rappers from this season are Cheetah, who would continue on to win the first season of Unpretty Rapstar, and Loco – the competition’s first winner.
Show Me The Money has aired every year since 2012, and thousands of viewers anxiously watch to see “who will be the next young boss?”
KHH Artists: Who’s Who?
According to last.fm, some of the K-hip hop artists with the most listeners are Supreme Team (E-Sens & Simon Dominic) Epik High, and Dynamic Duo (Gaeko & Choiza) to name a few. Perhaps some of the most easily recognizable names are Jay Park (former 2PM member) Zico (of Block B) Keith Ape, Beenzino, Yoon Mirae (wife of Tiger JK) Changmo, and The Quiett.
There are quite a few rappers who are also gifted producers. Some of these are Giriboy, Nochang, Bewhy, and of course, Gray.
When Worlds Collide
There have also been many amazing collaborations between KHH and Kpop artists: Hwasa of Mamamoo and Loco’s Don’t, RM of BTS and Drunken Tiger’s Timeless, and recently Kid Milli featured on Taemin of Shinee’s track Black Rose. Though fans of either genre are divided, the two worlds have come together to create some truly amazing songs.
Something For Everyone
Over the years, KHH has evolved to take on many different forms and styles. Club bangers such as Jay Park & Ugly Ducks “Mommae” and “Yata” by Woodie Gochild and Zene the Zilla, classic hip hop like Owen’s “Yellow Iverson”, hard hitters like Punchnello’s “Boiling Point” featuring Simon Dominic and Tabber, to more avant garde tracks such as XXX’s “Liquor” and Nochang’s “Floraguap” are just a few songs that represent the versatility of K-Hip Hop.
To hear songs mentioned here and more, check out our playlists on Spotify: