Greetings and welcome to another Seoulbeats Roundtable!

Recently, a hierarchy of K-pop’s idol rappers made by netizens has surfaced on, where else, the internet. As seen, few rappers made the netizen-cut off mark at the third tier; Block B leader Zico is placed atop the idol rapper pyramid, followed by G-Dragon, while 2PM‘s Taecyeon and Chansung languish in the 5th tier.

Of course, this ranking is subjective, and different people will have different opinions.

This week, we showed this chart to our writers and asked them: which rankings do you agree with, and which would you change?



  • 1st tier: Zico
  • 2nd tier: G-Dragon, Bang Yong-guk, Kyung, TOP
  • 3rd tier: (limit line) – Junhyung, Miryo, CL, Hyuna, P.O., Baro
  • 4th tier: Zinger, Dongwoo, JB, Yunho, Bora, Zelo, Minzy, Yubin, Mir, Amber, Eunhyuk, Shindong, Minho, Jia, Hwayoung, Woori, Viki, Lim, Nicole, Jihae
  • 5th tier: Taecyeon, Chansung.

Gaya: Before everyone jumps in, I’m just going to say that I completely agree that Zelo should be ranked higher than Minho (and a few others, too). I also feel like the reason Taecyeon and Chansung are at the bottom could be because no one in Korea has seen them in aaaaaaaaages.

Maryse: Aside from the fact that no one in Korea has seen them for aaaaaaaaages, remember that Idol rapping disaster that happened at the SBS Gayo Daejun last year? Taecyeon was one of those culprits, so I’m gonna have to agree with his ranking.

But honestly, I’m completely appalled at GD‘s ranking in the table. I think T.O.P does a better job than GD. And seriously, Hyuna belonging to the third tier?! Is this ranking even for real? Then what does this make of Yunho and Yubin‘s rapping? And Hoya‘s not even in the list, I’m depressed.

In my opinion these rankings are totally off the wall and shouldn’t be used for any serious references though I totally agree with Zico’s ranking (not being biased).

Paloma: Oh no, Maryse, why did you have to mentioned that thing they called “hip-hop stage,” I thought I had completely erased it from my mind! Other than that, I agree with you in disagreeing about the whole chart; they are usually random as hell, only that can explain Hyuna being almost at the same level as Junhyung.

I’m kinda ok with the highest positions; I do prefer Zico over GD and GD over T.O.P, although I would definitely put Junhyung on third place and Miryo at least at the same level as Bang Yong-guk if not higher. But around the three, the whole chart turns into a complete mess: how can Jia be lower than Bora, and how can JB even be there, when he’s not a rapper? As for Taecyeon and Chansung being in the lowest positions, I think Chansung is pretty bad, but I never know whether to blame him or whoever wrote that awkward rap in “Heartbeat” (it’s so cringe-worthy I love it, actually), and I don’t think Taecyeon deserves to be so low. Sure, he’s not a great rapper, but he’s mediocre, just like everybody at the bottom of the chart — is he really worse than Woori?? Really??

I also can’t believe that Yunho is higher than Zelo and even Mir; I don’t think he’s a bad singer even if his voice is way too nasal, but as a rapper he just makes me cringe non-stop, though he should still be higher than lots of girl groups rappers there such as Girl’s Day Jihae, Nicole and definitely Dal Shabet‘s Vicky; I remember I checked some of Dal Shabet’s stuff earlier this year for a review for the first time, and I was amazed by the total lack of flow she has.

Gaya: Jr. is the rapper for JJ Project, I honestly don’t see how people can get them confused. Actually it is pretty impressive that Zico is up the top considering Block B only debuted in 2011, though I think someone mentioned the possibility of this chart being made by a BBC…

In any case, it’s a shame this list came out so early because “Specialist H.Y.” would have totally beaten out Zico.

Jasper: I concur, Gaya. I concur. “Specialist H.Y.” blows everyone out of this list.

Fatouma: The thing that bugs me the most about the list, just like any list complied from the opinions of netizens, is that popularity and dominance within the mainstream will trump actual talent every time. Although 2PM‘s current relevance in the mainstream is dubious as of late, this is why Chansung even made it on the list while Infinite‘s Hoya and EXO-K‘s Chanyeol. To be as big a hater that I possibly could be, I would remove practically everyone off the list and keep only a handful of genuine rappers on the list because this hierarchy is so laden with fast talkers that I cringe when I look at it. But with including all the idol rappers, I would definitely place Zico at the top alongside Kyung and Bang Yong-guk, and actually place G-Dragon and T.O.P much lower and just a smidgen above P.O. GD&TOP haven’t truly appeased me with their rapping since 2009, so yeah. Haters gonna hate.

Hyuna and even CL should be nowhere near Zelo, Dongwoo, and Miryo and Hoya and Chanyeol should be on this list. Chanyeol needs more opportunities to showcase his skills and maybe he’d become more relevant? He second-handly crushed all of SM‘s idol “rappers” with his short part in “Two Moons” and has a lot of flow and just needs more chances like this:

… to show off his obvious talent. I can’t stop watching his short cover of Beezino‘s “Hot Clip.” Perhaps with EXO’s first concert, he can have his own solo stages? But with Kyungsoo beatboxing of course. Heavens knows that SM is a disaster with all things even relatable to hip hop so we’ll see if this comes to fruition that it’ll be actually good. Chanyeol has really good taste in his rap so if SM lets him do his own thing, his solo stage will be fine. Hoya also needs more credit, and perhaps once Infinite H releases their album next year., he can finally get it. The boy’s a beast with rapping, dancing and singing under his belt.

I agree with where Mir, Baro and Junhyung are on the list, near the top of the middle, but they definitely need to be further up the list. After “Stop Girl,” Eli should be placed on par with Mir and Baro, since they’re the resident decent rappers of K-pop, and Junhyung just a bit above them with P.O. I actually don’t mind that they’re close to Minho, Yunho and Taecyeon on the list. On a good day, these boys are pretty good and tolerable when they rap, examples being KRY‘s “Heartquake,” Minho’s one liners, and miss A‘s “Madness” respectively. But Chansung is good when it’s a sunny day in the middle of winter in Manitoba and should never have crossed the minds of netizens.

Ambika: I agree with most of the upper rankings, though Hyuna definitely has to go to a much lower rank. How she made it there above most of the other idols is a mystery. Similarly, Yunho needs to move down, and Zelo needs to move up to the middle-top of tier 3. Of the higher ranked, GD’s voice isn’t my favorite, but when lowers it a bit and stops dragging out sounds, it’s more easy to listen to. When I see the ones higher ranked, I wonder if netizens lump together actual rapping style and talent for writing raps to be reason for a higher ranking, since most of them can rap but are also heavily involved in at least their own portions of songs.

Like Gaya and Paloma mentioned, not sure how JB made it to the list when he doesn’t even rap in his duo. And not only did he make to the list, but he beat out quite a few of his colleagues. Must be high expectations or utter confusion. I don’t think Taecyeon is that bad at rapping though, definitely not worse than Yunho or Minho. While he doesn’t exactly shine, he’s not so bad that he should be in the fifth tier with Chansung of all people. And Sistar‘s Bora ranking as high as she did? I don’t think so. I’m pleasantly surprised that B1A4‘s Baro is near the upper middle. I do like his voice, and he has some style to his rapping. I guess his placement is also a testament to B1A4’s growing popularity to the point where they’re holding a concert, with tickets already sold-out, later this year.

Considering the idol groups included, I wonder who actually made this chart. There are clear biases, and groups I wouldn’t think of first–such as Rainbow or Girl’s Day–are included while others that more easily come to mind–U-KISS or After School–are not. In addition, I wonder how many of these placements are influenced by sheer popularity and exposure rather than actual skill, especially since this ranking is so subjective.

Gaya: It’s really a shame that there are hardly any female rappers near the top end; all we have are Miryo, CL and… Hyuna. Though really, I agree with everyone on Hyuna — I’d move her down to the 4th tier, and fill her place with Jewelry‘s Baby J. I used to hate her after her rather woeful performance at that female rapper special stage at the 2009 MAMAs, but I now realise that Baby J can indeed rap, just not in English (which was what happened at the MAMAs). I loved her rap in the teaser for Jewelry’s “Look At Me” more than the actual song itself and I like her rapping in other Jewelry songs too, so she’s up there for me.

And while the ladies are already well represented in the bottom half of this ranking, I can’t help but have Hyoyeon join the fray. She gets about two or three lines in “Maxstep,” but she did better than I expected–and I’m going to say that she might even be a better rapper than Tiffany *runs away from Dana*

Nicholas: While I am glad that such a chart does exist, exposing what some idol rappers are (glorified sing talkers), there are also some rankings on the chart I would disagree with. Like everyone else, moving Hyuna down a notch or two would be nice, maybe the fourth tier (she has reasonable flow, but the voice and the whole talk-sing thing kinda annoys). I would also move Bora down a little (her rapping is still more glorified talk sing).

To break from the 2pm Haterade, I might also move Taecyeon up a notch or two. Granted, he has ruined many performances with annoyingly fake angry “talk singing,” but let’s be honest, it’s mostly of the same standard as most people in the fourth or fifth tier. A guy I would move up would be Beast’s Junhyung, if cause he writes the stuff and secondly he does pull it off.

People I might consider moving up would be Yubin, who did manage to impress Tiger JK (and me) on a You & I performance (maybe nearing the line in the tiering). I would also rejig the chart to move CL (down a little) and miss A’s Jia (up a little), so they are closer to each other, for the energy they bring to the proceedings music-wise.

At the end of the day though, I would not really consider idol rapping the first source for hearing some real rapping, with maybe only those in the top tier showing it. With the rap break in most songs being rather obligatory in nature, I am also not surprised that most groups also handle the rap in the same manner (either trying an imitation or just talk singing with some flow). Let’s be honest, if anyone wanted real rapping, we would have all just listened to Tiger JK, Leessang or Epik High.

Nabeela: Before I rearrange anyone on this list, I need to kick some people off this list because some of these idols are “rappers” and not rappers. And I know, if we are ranking idols by their positions in their group, this is the way to go, but let’s not sully talent with force-fed instructed flow.

Everyone who is anyone knows Chansung cannot sing or rap; rather, he can talk-sing with a tempo in a pitch that will eventually be autotuned to sound tolerable. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge 2PM fan, but let’s be honest here.) Taecyeon also shouldn’t be on this list, he basically just talks through every 2PM song, and talking is not rapping. I’ve never heard Hwayoung rap a decent verse so she can get off the list. I would also drop Minho from this list as well. Somebody take Lim and Nicole off this list now. Jesus–whoever said these girls could rap?

Hyuna needs to go down a few notches–she’s not that great. Yubin I think deserves a better spot, as does Zelo (dont you dare try an tell me Hyuna is a better rapper than Zelo, no sir) and Junhyung (totally agree with Nicholas on this one, the guy writes a lot of his own stuff, he deserves it). I never considered Minji a rapper so I have no idea what she is doing on this list. I see my baby CL up there–that’s good.I think Baro is a better rapper than P.O., even though P.O. has better charisma.

Not gonna lie, I’d put Kyung right up there by Zico (whose ranking I totally whole fangirl-heartedly agree with) or if not a little lower than Zico, only because Zico has a better melody to his voice. But Kyung is mad talented with his verses. I think TOP deserves to be right up there next to GD also.

Damn who made this chart?

(Nate, SBSMusic1, tetice91, silcarax, Images via Brand New Stardom, Bnt News, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Jungle Entertainment, Chansung’s Twitter)


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