Spotlight: A Dynamic Duo Like No Other
Dynamic Duo is a big name in the K-hip-hop industry. The two, Gaeko (Kim Yoon-seong) and Choiza (Choi Jae-ho), have known each other since the sixth grade, joining the same crew, K.O.D, in the 90s, the same trio, CB Mass, in 1999, and finally settling into the duo we know them as today, Dynamic Duo, in late 2003 before making the jump to open Amoeba Culture in 2006. The two are members of The Movement and have featured or helped make a number of songs with Leessang, Yoon Mi-rae, Epik High, and Drunken Tiger, among others.
The duo is set to make a comeback July 1st with their seventh full-length album, making this an excellent time to feature the duo. It’s been a year and half since Dynamic Duo’s last release. The album, Lucky Numbers, contains 13 tracks, is said to contain rap and soul music, and, as per most K-hip-hop releases, and involves work with a plethora of people including members of their label along with Crush, UV‘s Muzie, and Sistar‘s Hyorin
As mentioned above, Choiza and Gaeko were previously in the underground hip-hop crew K.O.D along with Sixpoint and Zason. It wasn’t until 1999 that the two would make an official debut with Curbin as a trio under the name CB Mass. Under Drunken Tiger’s tutelage, the trio released three albums: MassMediah in 2000, MassMatics in 2001, and MassAppeal in 2003. However, the group split up when it became known that Curbin was caught taking money from the group.
In 2004, the two debuted again, but as Dynamic Duo releasing Taxi Driver, whose title track “Ring My Bell” continues to be a favorite today. Choiza and Gaeko generally rap at similar speeds, Choiza taking a lower pitch while Gaeko has a more biting tone. Gaeko also is the vocalist of the two, able to crank out some seriously soulful R&B tunes. But what attracts most to Dynamic Duo are their lyrics, something they’ve noticed as well. The humanistic lyrics of the now and the storytelling are something the duo wishes to always bring with their music.
Though Taxi Driver was a strong and solid debut album, it wasn’t until Double Dynamite in 2005 that the duo won their first major award: Best Hip-Hop Album at the 2006 Korean Music Awards. Later that year in September of 2006, Dynamic Duo with some close friends established the entertainment management company Amoeba Culture, the name describing the desire to foster innovation and creativity in their music. The idea of an “amoeba” had been around for a couple of years, the moniker “Amoeba 2004” showing up in some of the duo’s early design work. The present-day CEO for the label is Ko Kyung-min, a friend the two met while they were still with CB Mass.
Enlightened was the first album from the new company in 2007 and solidified the status of Dynamic Duo as a strong hip-hop force. Their songs, particularly “Attendance Check” featuring Naul, charted high and it won the Best Music Video Award at the 2007 Mnet Asian Music Awards. Last Days, released in 2008 had “Solo” featuring Alex from Clazziquai, that similarly did well. But it was “Mother’s Soup” that garnered the Best Hip-Hop Song award at the 2009 Korean Music Awards.
Music videos for Dynamic Duo songs are never simple. They usually incorporate humor and also keep trying new things, starting with the various humorous scenarios of “Ring My Bell.” “Go Back” provided a sad story line, but “Attendance Check” and “복잡해” brought it back along with a visual delight in the animations used. “Solo” had its own type of humor, but also used exaggerated costumes and sets for a fierce portrayal.
But starting with 2009’s Band of Dynamic Brothers, there was another level of sophistication to their music videos, even with the raucous “Fireworks” and the tactics used. “Guilty” served as another entirely smooth change with cleaner looks and thoughtful manipulations. Band of Dynamic Brothers as a whole was a more experimental album, combining more reggae and Latin influences with hip-hop to create some newer sounds. As the album was the duo’s last before their October enlistment, made obvious by its album cover, it was meant to make a splash.
Choiza and Gaeko both served as public relations officers for their time in the military. While in military service, Gaeko was met with a surprise: his girlfriend was pregnant. As such, the two married in May 2011, while Gaeko was still in military service, and they welcomed a baby boy in September, after he was discharged.
During their service, the duo took advantage of breaks to continue writing music for their next release. Indeed, they wasted no time. The two were discharged in August of 2011 and to commemorate their 10th anniversary, released the first half of their sixth album, Digilog, in November, the second part coming out in January of 2012. The two halves played with a “digital + analog = digilog” idea, trying to properly mix digital and analog elements to create two halves that are distinctly different. “Friday Night” became the representative song from the first half while “Without You” was from the second, the latter nabbing the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Song Award at the 2012 Melon Music Awards.
Since the duo’s last release, the two have been busy making music, as always, producing and writing for others along with putting out their individual contributions to their label’s NOWorkend project. Gaeko’s “Rhythm Is Life” and Choiza’s “Going Down” were both opportunities to see individual work by each and their personal styles by themselves.
Aside from showing a strong interest in music, both men have taken time to earn degrees in their interests. Gaeko attended Hongik University at its Sejong Campus, studying Advertising Communication Design while Choiza studied Business Administration at Sejong University. These interests have collided with their work in interesting ways. Choiza’s degree obviously comes in handy to help run the entertainment label. Gaeko’s long love of art has been reflected in participation in art exhibitions, album covers, and the establishment of “Amoebahood” not only as the name used for their group concerts, but as one representing a cultural enterprise intending to support exhibits, concerts, and cultural art projects.
That idea of support also fits in with the group (and company’s) intentions towards new talents. When asked if they’d ever train an artist within their company and debut them, the duo instead talked about wanting to support talented artists from the side, helping them gain some recognition and get their music out there, an effort that most likely stems from Dynamic Duo themselves working up from the underground into a mainstream hip-hop duo. And that’s something they’ve been able to actually do, with the debut of trio Rhythm Power and the album help to J-Tong and 0CD.
Though they’re mainstream, Dynamic Duo isn’t as known to K-pop fans, though exposure with work on Infinite H‘s album and the boom of Primary‘s work has helped with that. But they have been able to become an icon of K-hip-hop through their efforts in music and as a representative, traveling to the U.S. for Amoebahood concerts and even giving a talk at TEDxSeoul. Dynamic Duo has a track record of quality songs, and hopefully Lucky Numbers will be no different. Both have named Motown artists like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye as serious influences, and perhaps those influences will be more evident in some of that “Detroit sound” also listed as audible in this new album.
What are your thoughts on Dynamic Duo, readers? Do you have any favorite songs or music videos from them?