Exhibit A: BTS
BTS' name translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts which doesn't start us off on quite the right foot, when it comes to hip-hop concepts, but they are actually one of the more obvious choices for the genre because they are actually kind of good at it. Their rappers are all genuinely skilled and their album tracks are better at showing this. However, with their debut, they still showed they had the technical ability to carry off a hip-hop concept. The aesthetics of the video are a whole other story as it looks like they gave a bunch of seven-year-olds a questionnaire on what they thought represented hip-hop and disorderly behaviour and just spat out any old early-2000s anti-establishment shit. If you want to gauge the extent of the issue that this concept faces, just play this whilst watching 'No More Dream' on mute because it makes for entertaining and embarrassing watching. The odd thing is that this cookie-cutter hip-hop concept actually kinda works well for BTS, but they seemed to do away with it for something far more generic...
Okay, so BTS' 2014 output held significantly superior songs to those of 2013. 'Danger' still has the hip-hop sound (with good production this time), but these Boy Scouts are no longer "Bulletproof" as they seemed to run away from the frightening skaters to chill out in an abandoned subway station instead. The look itself does not have a particularly hip-hop feel which should be no surprise as they got their break by being pussy-ass schoolkids and even took a break to flounce about on some chairs whilst delivering undoubtedly one of the worst songs of 2014. So in short, the hip-hop concept genuinely suits the sound of BTS but they have strayed from it to make more money through making the public think that schoolchildren are sexy.
Exhibit B: B.A.P
Now I guess technically B.A.P have less of a hip-hop concept and more of an 'eco-freak aliens with a robot and a terrorist' concept but not everyone can try quite as hard as BTS to pretend that they are members of N.W.A Juniors and if you ask most people they will probably tell you that B.A.P debuted with a kinda hip-hop sound and look. At least I will assume that is the case for the sake of this article. Aside from being one of the best debuts in all of K-Pop (my opinion is always objective fact), this is far more convincing and less pathetic than 'No More Dream'. This is thanks mainly to Korea's answer to Bono: Bang Yongguk at the helm; the lyrics for this sound kinda like they could be conscious hip-hop or even Marxist hip-hop (yeah, someone decided to exploit that enormous gap in the market) and whilst it still shows signs of trying way too hard (a common theme throughout Bang Yongguk's life) it feels more sincere than BTS' indictment of the school system.
So B.A.P then proceeded to release Warrior twice more but with the names 'Power' and 'No Mercy' because fuck creativity am I right? After realising that they could only do one song with a hip-hop concept, B.A.P decided to abandon it for something else.
B.A.P came to my country to film a shitty music video, There was so much promise as well, I should sue them for damages. On the subject of suing, B.A.P are doing that to TS Entertainment, probably for giving them such a shit song to work with. And what kind of hip-hop type individual sues anyone anyways, they should beef over turf like they did in One Shot, which might just be the most hip-hop they have ever been.
Exhibit C: BIGBANG in every iteration
Probably the closest they have come, still pretty ridiculous and hilariously cheap though.
Nothing says hip-hop like having a house that looks like it was designed by a 2 year-old on hallucinogens.
I could go on and on but the key note to take away from this is that you can't lose hip-hop status if you were never hip-hop.
Exhibit D: A.KOR
A.KOR get off lucky as they only have one song so we can't judge whether or not they shamelessly abandoned the image yet. Only time will tell. I could have gone with plenty of female hip-hop concepts, but wanted to talk about A.KOR because of all that fuss over one of their rapper's diss track to Park Bom that the Blackjack's got their knickers in a twist over. I could talk about how unnecessarily angry 2NE1 fans got, the pointlessness of dissing Park Bom of all people, or the massive amounts of abuse that A.KOR now receive, but I would rather say that they have a competent duo of rappers and set dudes on fire in the video for 'But Go'. They seem to have overshot a hip-hop concept and gone straight for yakuza level shit. I don't know if I should consider this a great success or a swing and a miss but I would recommend A.KOR, mainly because their music is good but partly because anything that pisses off 2NE1 stans is worthwhile.
Exhibit E: Topp Dogg
With enough of them to have a gang war amongst themselves, Topp Dogg debuted on Stardom who you might remember for having the plot of a mafia film occur within office walls. Their first song I would call a hip-hop concept because the four rappers all get 8-bar verses and the vocalists get half a line if they're lucky. When the song isn't busy being incredibly obnoxious, the rap verses are actually very good, the rappers could probably hold their own as solo artists (Kidoh, Jenissi, and Yano have all released mixtapes). The look of the video isn't very hip-hop though, it reminds me of the gangs from Akira because quite honestly, furry epaullettes are not practical articles of clothing for a drive-by shooting. In their sound though, Topp Dogg have a hip-hop concept whilst remaining definitely within the K-Pop sphere (One of the reasons I won't talk about Epik High is that I consider them hip-hop, not K-Pop with a hip-hop concept) and for a video of theirs with a more hip-hop aesthetic we need look no further than a song of theirs that only featured the rappers.
When I say 'hip-hop' I really mean 'rich kids in a run-down part of town' because this video looks like it was made for all of £4. They try about as hard as BTS but they don't bother with any of the extraneous skaters and damage to property, instead just gesticulating violently as they walk backwards down a street. Regardless, this is the most believable and the least awkward example to be found so far (it also helps that Peekaboo is a really good song). Well done Topp Dogg, you win something I guess.
Exhibit F: Boys In Groove
Exhibit G: Global Icon
Eagle eyed readers will realise that I already linked GI in the A.KOR segment, but they do bear talking about. What they managed to do was go for the fierce/hip-hop image which a large amount of twats will claim belongs to 2NE1 and no-one else despite the fact that GI make better music, fit the concept more, and are a nugu group so you can acquire hipster cred for liking them. They have also collaborated with legit hip-hop artists whilst continuing to be the best female iteration of a hip-hop concept in K-Pop. Unfortunately they are losing members all over the place so check them out before they fade into a deeper section of obscurity than they are already in.
I'm not sure if I was really trying to reach a conclusion, if you were expecting a big finish then you won't find it here. What we can learn is that the hip-hop concept is awkward, perhaps the most awkward of all concepts, and that it requires a decent set of rappers to make it less so. This is also not an exhaustive list of all hip-hop concepts so let me just rifle off some more with no effort whatsoever.
IKON: They haven't debuted yet, what the fuck do you want me to do? Bobby can rap but is an ugly twat who looks like Gollum. B.I is also there. They are the only two members I know anything about.
WINNER: Is this a hip-hop concept? I thought they were a piece of conceptual art to see how quickly they could send listeners to sleep. Mino did a good solo song I guess.
Block B: They have good rappers but I never really felt that they were going for a balls-out hip-hop concept so wasn't sure if I should include them.
Delight: Decent enough rappers making obnoxious songs, no way I could stretch anything about them into a point.
GLAM: Our neighbourhood blackmailers went for a hip-hop concept once and they all looked stupid whilst doing it. Zinni can B-Boy which is something I guess.
Tiny-G: I still like Tiny-G despite based Myung-Ji leaving. They are the definition of concept-hoppers and they were only vaguely hip-hop for their self titled track. Also, much as I love her, Myung-Ji is a bad rapper, ditto Mint.
Any other hip-hop concept I didn't write about: Sucks to be them, or perhaps not if I wished to give them a hatchet job. If you are desperate to know what I think then ask me about them.