March has seemed to both drag on and fly by at the same time. With spring supposedly approaching, yet winter refusing to let its hold go on the world, the last month has felt like a weird state of limbo. We ran the gamut with March releases, from mixtapes to ballads and everything in between. From well known vets to still new rookies, everyone is getting inspired by the promise of growth in spring and churning out new music. For this edition of Unsung Artists, I hope to bring a mix of genre and artists, to represent how the season is just a little bit of everything right now.
First up is one of my favorites from Sleepy of Untouchable. While participating in last year’s season of Show me the Money, Sleepy lamented that he’s known more for television appearances and variety than as a rapper. This single, “iD” isn’t what you’d expect from a SMTM alum. It’s a laid back, easy hip hop track produced by Gray. The song is super relatable, with Sleepy being completely honest about Insta-stalking a cute girl.
I wanna see all four of your seasons
I wanna see your different side, no make up
Before I go to you and talk to you first
I wanna know your tastes so I search all night
Sleepy continues on to complain about accidentally double-tapping a pic, talking himself out of sending a DM, and hoping that a profile isn’t set on profile. It’s a fun song that doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s easy to ride down the street with the windows down listening to this song. The video coincides with the lyrics with the Instagram tags for various models and other celebs, including EXID‘s LE, rapper and variety star Dindin, and even Sleepy’s dog fury being included. If any of the ladies in the video catch your eye, you can follow them, just don’t run your battery out.
Honey Popcorn, “Bibidi Babidi Boo”
I am here for Honey Popcorn.
That being said, this song is not my particular taste. However, I wanted to include this song and group because I did really enjoy watching this video. The concept and video reminded me of early Secret. The retro styling and the cosmic/fairy tale aspects actually call to mind several girl groups, but what is really original these days? They’ve each already been a part of some of Japan’s biggest girl groups and that polish comes across in the videos of their live performances on YouTube. The girls have put a lot of work into their Korean debut and the amount of hate they’re getting for not being remotely sexual is insane. I get that cultural differences may be at play here, but at the same time, the group seems damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
“Bibidi Babidi Boo,” is a simple dance track that speaks of the fear of losing a love. In a somewhat childish response, the girls sing about casting a love spell, using the words from the Cinderella classic. The song and MV scream saccharine love story that is almost the hallmark of a girl group. “Bibidi Babidi Boo” screams classic girl group promotion and it will be interesting to see if Honey Popcorn can and will keep up this trajectory.
Junhyung, “Sudden Shower”
There is a simple beauty to the MV for “Sudden Shower.” In it we relive Junhyung’s memories of a relationship that has seemingly ended. The two share good times in Junhyung’s apartment, at a pool hall, at a bowling alley, and on a rooftop. Clearly this was a happy time in Junhyung’s life and while we don’t see what causes this relationship to end, it is clear that the pain of the break up is getting to him.
There are so many things I still haven’t said
My feelings I still haven’t given you are lost
Can’t you stay with me a little longer
And take them all away?
What really highlights (pun not intended) the longing expressed in the song is the interplay between Junhyung’s and 10cm‘s voices. Junhyung’s rap woven with 10cm’s vocals create an up and down that makes the sadness seem two-fold. It’s not just about the break up. It’s that it happened too soon.
Kisum (ft. Heize), “It’s Okay”
Kisum has been steadily and quietly releasing singles since her stint on Unpretty Rapstar. This time around she’s teamed up with a fellow Unpretty Rapstar alum, Heize, for “It’s Okay.” The song is refreshing and light, exactly what you would want to hear to start off a spring day. An addictive guitar makes up most of the song while Kisum and Heize twine through the song so well that it’s hard to distinguish one voice from the other. As someone who only knows Kisum from her previous television appearance, this soft side and the vocals on the track are quite the pleasant surprise. The video itself is very simple, with mostly panning shots of a dancer, Kisum, and a guitarist, but the aesthetics help to sell the fact that this is just a raw expression of emotion that doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to get its point across.
Junoflo (ft. Jay Park), “Grapevine”
Junoflo caught my eye during Show Me the Money and it had nothing to do with his rapping. But then I stopped looking at him to listen and was seriously impressed. Now signed to Feel Ghood Music, Junoflo is bringing the West Coast to South Korea. In “Grapevine” Junoflo addresses a potential suitor’s reservations about the rumors she’s heard about him. He tells her: “I know you heard a couple things, wonder if it’s true. If you ain’t got a history then you lying too.” Basically, you can believe what you want, but I’m sure there’s some stories about you too. Jay Park’s verses underline the thought, telling the woman to turn those rumors into something more positive (“I know what you heard thru the grapevine/Baby let’s just turn that into grape wine”).
Junoflo may be new to Korean audiences but he’s been active underground and online for several years and “Grapevine” shows a very distinct style both in terms of music and the video. Again, this song is perfect for this time of year. When it’s finally sunny out and you’re headed to the beach you can blast this song out of the speakers and watch the scenery speed by.
That’s it for this month’s edition of Unsung Artists. Which songs/MVs did you want to add to the list?