Category Archives: Hip Hop



Grannies love DJ Doc! (Hey, at least Zico didn’t have to steal the trophy this time.)

So, do you think Woo Chan’s parents are going to let Nucksal adopt him?


SMTM concerts coming up!


If you’re interested in going to the Show Me the Money concert in Seoul, the tickets are up, but it does not look like Jay Park or Zico are going to be there. Interpark/Play DB are also listing a few other SMTM concerts in Korean cities, but no word on who will be at those yet.

Hopefully there will be one or two concerts in the United States as well–ideally one in Los Angeles on a date when I can go! The one I went to two years ago was really awesome; I couldn’t swing it last year, but I’d love to go this year (and next, and next) if I can. Zico or no Zico, the show is basically Titans of Korean Hip-Hop, and it’s amazing.

K-Pop labels: Not people, not families, but businesses


So, yeah, I come back from the Illionaire concert to stories of more illegal contract terms in K-Pop!

What’s kind of annoying to me is that, LIKE ALWAYS, this information is being used by K-Pop fans for no better purpose than to bash other fans. So the take-away from that story is apparently, “Nya-nya-nya! This label is better than that label!”


OK, the problem with that mentality is not just that it’s juvenile and obnoxious. It’s not even that people are stanning labels (which arguably makes sense in K-Pop, because the labels usually generate the music and develop the performance styles).

The problem is that good companies can go bad.

I’ve seen this a lot in book publishing. Once upon a time–we’re talking, less than ten years ago–there were certain things that a reputable player in the publishing industry would simply never do. A reputable reviewer, for example, would never, ever charge a fee to review a book. Only scammers did that.

But then digitization hit the industry in a big way. Reputable firms of all stripes–you name it, agencies, review publications, publishers–came under strange new pressures.

Just like that, all the old rules fell away. Do “reputable” book reviewers charge authors for reviews nowadays? You betcha! (Do I still think that’s sleazy as fuck? You betcha!)

And that is what’s really wrong with all the side-taking: K-Pop labels are businesses. The people running them can change, their business models can change, everything about them can change (and arguably should change if the labels want to survive in the long term).

You can’t count on a company to not screw you over. You always have to protect yourself. How do artists do that? Through contracts and legal agreements. That’s why I didn’t care when KQ Entertainment appeared–Block B’s contracts hadn’t changed, so why did the rest matter?

It’s not like there was this person named Seven Seasons, and another person named KQ Entertainment murdered them to take their place. Some people clearly think that’s pretty much what happened, though–they see a name change, and they think that’s HUGELY important. But what matters is the contract.

And since I just was at an Illionaire concert, I’ll point out that their artists’ contracts are extremely different, no doubt because of their experiences elsewhere:

On the road to those riches, Illionaire has cut out all of the middlemen. Unlike K-pop groups on mainstream labels with multiple members (sometimes as many as 12), Illionaire has only three self-sustaining artists. Road managers don’t chauffeur them, they don’t maintain a lavish office, and the majority of their music is created from home. Aside from one employee who coordinates schedules, oversees contracts, and assists in production, there are no salaries to pay.

And all of this with no paperwork: Neither partners Dok2 and the Quiett nor Beenzino are bound by [traditional record label] contracts. Which means, nobody has to pay back label advances and everybody controls his own masters. Each rapper is only required to set aside 10-to-20-percent of the profit they make on gigs or album sales to Illionaire’s savings account, which then later gets put back into album production and marketing. The remaining money from shows, album sales, appearances, and ads becomes net profit for each individual.

So, thanks to Illionaire’s generous profit split, Dok2 makes in excess of $880,000 a year on profits that are presumably around the $1 million mark.

Do you know how big a profit Exo would have to turn from music sales in the Korean market for a member to see that kind of money under their contracts? About $80 million.

Illi-fucking-aire, motherfuckers!


Ah, just got back from the Illionaire concert in Vancouver–God, it was good. It’s been a long day for me and the weather here is awful, so part of me was like, I just shouldn’t go. But I toughed it out and am so glad I did.

It was just Dok2 and The Quiett, and oh my God were they clearly exhausted–puffy faces, dark circles under the eyes, they looked like a pair of little kids who just had their naps interrupted. But man, they are REALLY good. They both just rap effortlessly, and the tempo shifts (which I do find jarring sometimes) are handled beautifully. Plus they just have really good teamwork live.

They got more lively as the show went on (at the beginning Dok2 was asking stuff like “Are you having fun?” in this exhausted voice while propping his body up on the microphone stand–everyone was nice and didn’t laugh). They did two encores, and I don’t think they really planned to do the second–it took them a really long time to come out. But the audience was hyped, and I think that helped them find some energy.

Definitely The Quiett is more the showman–even at the beginning he was finding people’s phone cameras and performing to them (and the people just plotzed). Dok2 actually rapped with his back to the audience at the beginning–I don’t think it was exactly deliberate, he was SO tired–but then he started getting energetic and dancing around. By the end they were both high-fiving people and getting really out there (it was in a club that was set up so that everyone was close), so I think ultimately they both enjoyed the show a lot.

The audience was great–energetic but very civilized. I was glad because it was kind of a young crowd. I’d say it was about 40% men and a little more racially diverse than the Dynamic Duo concert–the club was kind isolated, so there also wasn’t all the weird crap with passers-by this time.

OK–gotta go pass out now….

ETA: They’ve put up a clip from it, and yeah, it looks like they totally didn’t expect that second encore.

And, oops! who’s that lunatic? And what the hell is she looking at?

I always photograph so well.

Non-Block B songs I enjoyed in 2016


It seems like everyone is doing these Best K-Pop Songs of 2016 lists, but they all seem to feature the same songs, so I thought I’d do my own completely arbitrary list of songs I liked. Obviously it would be really boring and predictable if the whole thing was just Block B related, so the rules are that the song 1. had to be released in 2016 and 2. cannot be a part of the Greater Block B Musical Complex.

I’m going to group them thematically instead of trying to rank them, because I think ranking stuff you like is inherently pointless. But there is a Song of the Year, so be prepared for that!

Here we go!

Trop music comes to Korea.

Yeah, if you’re American, right now you’re screaming “DEAR GOD NO MORE TROP!!!!” but I like all these songs because they use trop more as a spice, which means that they don’t all sound exactly the same.

Hash Swan & dKash, “Ay”

BTS, “Save Me”

Double K, “OMG”

CJamm & BeWhy, “Puzzle”

Jay Park, “Me Like Yuh”

Reggae Collaborations

I’m keeping with the tropical theme, because it’s fucking freezing where I live right now.

Skull & HaHa, with Stephen Marley, “Love Inside”

Skull & Sizzla Kalonji, “Get Rich”

Cute Duets

Park Kyung is really bummed that he can’t be included.

Sonnet Son & Andup, “Without You”

Heize & Dean, “And July”

Babylon & HA:TFELT, “Raining Street”

Music to Shtup To

“Tightly” could fit in here. You know, if you make it tight.

Yoonmirae, “JamCome On Baby”

Babylon, “Crush on You”

Jimin Park & Hash Swan, “Walkin'”

Mino, “Body”

Paloalto, “Fancy”

Elo, “Tattoo”

Leftover Music I Liked

Bulhandang, “We Back”

BeWhy, “Day Day”

San E & Chancellor, “Dish”

Vromance & Big Tray, “Bing”

Candle & Hanhae, “I Know”

Snacky Chan, “Out of Time”

Boi B, “Horangnabi”

Taewoon, “Fine Apple”

Kanto, “YOSM”

Sleepy, “Oh Yeah”

One, “Comfortable”

Junoflo, “Infinite Styles”


2016 was a bitch, so San-E wrote a song about it. Congratulations, San-E, on creating my personal Song of the Year!

San-E, “Bad Year”