Man, I wished I lived in L.A. Recently it was announced that Jungle Entertainment under the concert brand M-Live will be holding a concert in December. Tiger JK, his lovely wife Tasha, Leesang, Jung In, and Bizzy will be performing. The event will take place at the Wiltern, the same spot that showcased Adele, Jay-Z, and Eminem and many others. Their label stated:
It’s inspiring to be able to lead the way for Korean hip hop’s globalization as the K-Pop craze is creating buzz around the world.
K-pop may be somewhat popular around the world, but it hasn’t exactly taken off in the West, and more specifically, in America. The one thing that I think can truly crossover from the K-pop genre as a whole is Korean hip hop. Through Korean hip hop, there is a possibility that K-pop in general can gain more ground in the states. If Americans saw Tiger JK or Leessang before they saw SNSD and Wonder Girls I think they would see K-pop as legitimate music. Americans aren’t used to the concept of Korean idoldom and won’t immediately accept it, as has been proven before.
Korean hip hop artists are considered, for the most part, “artists” not “idols.” There is a huge difference between the two. Korean hip hop is created not manufactured in the way that idol music is. When idols produce music, it’s mean to sell and it adheres to the wants and desires of fangirls who are willing to buy their music. Korean hip hop, on the other hand, is meaningful and has substance. It’s not meant to create huge profit but its meant to create “feeling”, whether it be happiness, sadness, or plain stupid fun. It’s this reason alone that I think that Korean hip hop would lead the way for K-pop to expanding into the American market.
Let me clarify: America does have “idols,” however the American definition and the Korean definitions aren’t the same. Idols such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Britney Spears, and the like still have an individual say in the music they create. In America, “idol” is just a title, unlike in Korea where it is a package or product that has been honed, manufactured, and marketed. At the end of the day American “idols” have some artistic contribution to their overall productions.
Americans have a thing about being an “artist.” We aren’t used to music hopefuls auditioning, training for years, then debuting even if they don’t have any true talent. In America, acts are discovered and then they debut. In Korean hip hop, artists like Leesang, Tasha, and Tiger JK mostly started underground, gained listeners and eventually somewhat were able to cross into the mainstream. They are doing it for the love, and not the money. This is something that Americans, more so American hip hop listeners, have respect for and appreciate.
Korean hip hop acts will have more respect and be given more of a chance to debut in America simply because they are “artists.” They create original works and when you get down to it, there’s more effort put into hip hop in Korea than in idol music. If given the chance, they could probably follow the steps of Far East Movement, an Asian band that broke in to mainstream American music.
In a nutshell, America isn’t ready for idols but they might be ready for Korean hip hop. It’s something familiar and wont need getting used to. K-pop is a special acquired taste, but I would argue that hip hop is more universal.
What do you guys think? Do you think Korean hip hop may be the platform K-pop needs to succeed in the West?