Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hip-Hop Concepts: What Have They Ever Done For Us?

Ever since the dawn of time (well, since around about 2011) K-Pop has seen a rise not only in the amount of time given to the obligatory rap in a song, but also to the quality of the rappers. This has happened to such an extent that some company executive somewhere took time out of their busy schedule, of racquetball and slapping trainees with enormous wads of money, to create a group with a full-blown hip-hop concept. Whilst I am sure that someone will tell me about all of the hip-hop concepts in 90s K-Pop, I do not consider this assault on the eardrums to be a hip-hop concept in the same way that I don't consider Vanilla Ice to be a rapper. It would be very easy to get bogged down in which group had the first hip-hop concept in K-Pop, and it would probably make for a more interesting article, but I am here to assault you with my opinions as we take a look at hip-hop concepts since 2011 by group, and assessing not only whether or not it was a good concept to go with, but if that group stuck with it. So let us delve into the world of the try-hards and the gangsters as we come to realise that the Korean ghetto is full of unreasonably attractive people cosplaying as bandannas.

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

Bringing new meaning to the idea of trying way too hard comes G-Swaggin' and his hopeless goons who wear a bucket hat and call it a day. This doesn't particularly bear talking about because look at this, they were never hip-hop, they were white-boy R 'n' B at best. Sure, GD and TOP aren't completely awful rappers but they don't do the job of selling me a hip-hop image any more than a toad in a snapback, it is just uncomfortable and weird. But let's entertain some of their notions of hip-hop anyways.

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.

Madtown: Badtown

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.


  1. Replies
    1. I feel that GP Basic transcend all prior definitions of poor quality. Pika Burnjuk will be used as a form of torture in future.

    2. i liked Black Bounce, but then it's universally acknowledged that i have terrible taste in songs

      you're just scared 'cos Janey is straight OG

  2. Hi. Glad to have you aboard

    (See it wasn't just copy pasted)

    1. Why thank you very much, I also appreciate the effort that it took to type that all out twice.

  3. Did ask a friend if this was hip-hop:

    After grimacing for a while the veredict was: NO.

  4. I honestly don't mind hip-hop concepts as long as it sounds good to me I don't mind them.

    I became a solidified BTS fan after listening to No More Dream because it reminded me a lot of A Tribe Called Quest which is one of my ultimate favorite hip-hop groups. And No I'm not comparing. It had been a while since I heard jazz instruments being used in hip-hop like that and I appreciated that greatly. And in all honestly they haven't released a song that has assaulted my ear drums so I became a mega-fan.

    But as for hip-hop concepts in general: I'd take any of them over Lil Wayne any day of the week. Any fucking day.

    1. The thing is that I still quite like BTS and No More Dream is a decent song without the video but most all of their videos are cringeworthy. I would take any hip-hop concept with a member who is actually a rapper because they rap rather than a rapper because they are told to rap over a lot of things.

  5. Sure beats aping Arashi's atrocious suits. Fuck that shit.

  6. People always harp on about how great BTS are but I've found all of their singles except "Danger" to be utter trash. I just can't see the appeal at all.

    1. i actually think that their hip hop concept was far better executed than a lot of others,

      for example got7's heinous debut track that made it very difficult to admit i stan like hell for them :|

  7. I like BTS, Cypher Pt.2 is my favorite track of theirs (I'm so glad you linked it in this post). Their albums were pretty good so I anticipated their next comeback (which happens to be Danger/Dark&Wild) and I couldn't believe it was so shitty.

    I've been meaning to listen to Topp Dogg. I'll go give them a try. A.KOR too.

  8. maaaaan bobby is an idiot but bi and mino are actually creative people and i wish they weren't in swigetty sweggyg

    i half-appreciated mino's solo because the direction it came from was the same as his weird ass pre-debut ants diss track/alphabet rap/olleri golleri but it was ultimately produced by the dude who made MTBD and ended up trying pretty hard anyway :|

  9. Why were those girls setting that guy on fire? ::Shudders::

    BTS suck. And if I want sexy school "kids", I'll take Aklo and Salu instead.

  10. i was hoping you would bash BTS more

    1. Aklo and Salu showing how to do a school concept is enough burn.

  11. Lol no one in kpop is hiphop. They're duh pop. They sugar coat shit. Even bap tries to be like hiphop with social messages but they sugarcoat shit and are about imagery and all. Actual hiphop people are underground because of what they talk about they would be banned anyways. I think bap and bts have potential but at the end of the day they all still have a ceo who approves of everything that is released. It's a shame with bts because they could be so much more because they're all really good. Suga and rapmon were underground before getting with bighit. Youngguk definitely is more on a marxist side of things if you've heard him speak briefly on things. He's echoed the Dalai lama on economics for ex who is an admitted marxist (I am too). These companies are never going to be hiphop. Oh and kemy was also underground before getting into akor.


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