Jul 24, 2013

My Lists: 10 favorite non-idol Korean artists

While listening to my extensive k-pop playlist earlier today on the train, I thought of making a list about all my favorite non-idol Korean artists. While I mainly listen to idol acts, I have a huge chunk of non-idol music on constant rotation. Who are they? Well, glad you asked.

Dok2 - Once known to the Korean hip-hop audience as Gonzo,  Dok2 (pronounced dok-i) is practically a veteran in the music industry at the tender age of 23. This half Korean, quarter Spanish, quarter Filipino rapper has been in the game since he was 12 years old. He was once signed to Epik High's independent label Map The Soul Inc., but is now the CEO of his own label Illionaire Records, which he started together with fellow rapper The Quiett.

Epik High - This alternative hip-hop group is comprised of rappers Tablo and Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz. Back when hip-hop lacked popularity in South Korea, Epik High would perform alongside other rap groups in the underground hip-hop scene. They would later sign on with Woollim Entertainment, and then to their own label Map The Soul Inc., and then in 2012 they signed with YG Entertainment (Tablo had earlier signed with YG in 2011 as a solo artist while fellow rapper Mithra Jin was serving in the military).

Urban Zakapa - An indie acoustic jazz R&B band with nine members (four vocalists and five instrumentalists) who debuted back in 2009, Urban Zakapa has gained their popularity mostly by guesting in other artists' concerts and by performing in music festivals. It's their sweet harmonies and smooth melodies that make their music refreshing amidst the EDM-saturated k-pop scene.

2LSON - Not your typical group, 2LSON is comprised of 18-year-old vocalist Hyo Bin, music composers LE and Jason, plus lyricist Noel. Their music is usually clean, smooth R&B-inspired pop tracks with addictive melodies. In cases where a male voice is needed in their songs, they often feature other indie R&B and hip-hop artists (i.e. Bumkey, Paloalto, Dok2).

Brown Eyed Soul - This Korean R&B vocal group debuted way back in 2003 and is known for their resonant and sensitive voices. While all four members are amazing singers individually, the best thing about the group is how they sound together. Though the group has only recorded 3 full albums since their debut, they have released countless singles, plus albums recorded by individual members. They're probably most popular for the song "Nothing Better" off of their second album The Wind,The Sea,The Rain.

4Men - Is a Korean pop vocal group who originally debuted with four members but they have been through line-up changes to end with the current three members. The group debuted in 1998 and have strongly released numerous albums since. While a lot of their songs are hauntingly beautiful, most people would know them for their 2008 hit single "Baby, Baby" from their EP First Kiss.

The Quiett - This rapper and producer has worked and collaborated with countless Korean artists such as Dok2, Dumbfoundead, Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae, Paloalto, Jay Park... and well, this list goes on and on. The Quiett's own brand of hip-hop finds itself often mashed up with different genres such as jazz, blues, and R&B. Having started his career in music back in 2005, The Quiett has released copious amounts of albums and mixtapes, and is now the CEO of Illionaire Records alongside Dok2.

Zion.T - Rapper, singer and composer, Zion.T debuted in 2011 and has since been building a very strong fanbase and a bigger name for himself. His certain brand of R&B, matched with his impeccable vocals, has captured many a hearts since the release of his first single, "Click Me," on April 2011. He has also been featured in various other songs by other popular Korean artists (i.e. Simon D, Primary, Dok2, Infinite H).

2wins - This hip-hop duo comprised of rapper TobBob and singer Bumkey has been through their share of ups and downs in the music industry before finally being able to make a name for themselves. Their music showcases piano and brass sounds that blend perfectly with their soul and strong hip hop beats. I personally came across 2wins' music via Bumkey's many features in other artists' music (i.e. Infinite H, 2LSON, Dok2, Epik High). But Bumkey's gorgeous falsetto just keeps listeners wanting for more and I've been addicted to 2wins ever since.

Dynamic Duo - This hip-hop duo, that consists of childhood friends Choiza and Gaeko, started working together in the underground music scene in the early 2000's and have since grown to be a highly respected group who co-founded their current label Amoeba Culture. They have collaborated and worked with many different artists, both mainstream and independent (i.e. Zion.T, Bumkey, Supreme Team, Primary).

These are just some of the non-idol artists that I have on my playlists. Who else should I be listening to? If you have any suggestions, go ahead and let me know! 


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