Some weeks ago, my fellow writer Nicholas reflected on the career of SM‘s resident hit-maker, Yoo Young-jin. This time we will be reviewing the path of another K-pop hit-maker, Teddy Park, from his days as a 1TYM member to their actual status as one of YG‘s main producers.
With a less extensive career than Yoo Young-jin — not in vain he started producing around ten years later — and a very different sound, Teddy has also managed to become one of the most known producers in the K-pop scene.
Teddy’s musical path has always been bond to YG; born in Korea but raised in the States, Teddy came back to his homeland to enroll the university, but soon dropped it to start his activities with hip-hop quartet 1TYM. 1TYM was the third group debuting under the YG label, a relatively new company at that time that focused on hip-hop groups. YG was, however, no underground label, and 1TYM along with Jinusean had often been considered the ones that brought hip-hop to the Korean mainstream music scene.
Along with band members Oh Jin-hwan, Song Baek-kyoung and Im Taebin (also known as Danny), 1TYM released six studio albums between 1998 and 2005 before going on an hiatus in 2006 due to member Oh Jin-hwan’s enlistment. Although no official announce of a disbandment has ever been released, each member continued his own path, although Teddy remains as the only member still in the public spotlight (and I can’t be the only one wondering where on earth is Danny; please, come back!).
Although 1TYM is known by his hip-hop style, they had a wide range of influences, from reggae to R&B. From their fourth album Once N 4 All, for example, they released two very different singles: “Hot 뜨거”, an up-beat hip-hop track with reggae rythms and “Without You”, an emotional R&B ballad.
After the hiatus of 1TYM, Teddy Park started producing for other artists of his company; Se7en‘s song “La La La” was his first production for another artist, and after that he became involved with YG’s new boyband, Big Bang. His most know hit from this period is probably “Sunset Glow”, from Big Bang’s second album. Although still with some hip-hop influences, “Sunset Glow” was a pop song with an electronic base that became a hit.
However, it wasn’t until 2009 when his career as a producer finally took off and he became YG’s stronger producer, first with 2NE1‘s debut and then with Taeyang‘s solo album. Teddy produced both “Lollipop”, the collaboration between Big Bang and 2NE1 that worked as an introduction of the girl group, and “Fire”, 2NE1’s debut song, as well as most of their first mini-album. “Fire” was an electro-pop song with hints of hip-hop and reggae, which has been considered as one of Teddy’s trademarks, and immediately managed to differentiate 2NE1 from any other pre-existing girl groups.
In 2010 he produced most of the tracks in Taeyang’s solo album Solar, singles “Where U At” and “Wedding dress” among them, along with some songs from Se7en’s Digital Bounce album. With these releases, Teddy seems to be exploring all those genres he touched while being a 1TYM member but didn’t fully develop. If with Se7en and Taeyang it was R&B, with 2NE1 and Big Bang he completely turned towards an electronic style.
Also 2010 saw the release of 2NE1’s first full-length album, To Anyone, which was almost entirely composed and produced by Teddy himself. To Anyone was the album that set up 2NE1’s sound and personality after their powerful debut one year before. At the end of the year, he also participated in the production of GD&TOP’s album, and co-composed both “High High” and “Oh Yeah”.
He rearranged his style for 2NE1’s next single, “Lonely”, a much more melodic track that relied in on an acoustic sound instead of the autotune, and the result was one of 2NE1’s most beautiful songs, although soon overshadowed by their next hit, “I Am The Best”, which came shortly after with a strongest house sound than ever.
It has been within the last year that Teddy has co-composed and produced which probably are their most known songs to date: the aforementioned and acclaimed “I Am The Best”, probably 2NE1’s biggest hit to date too, and Big Bang’s awaited comeback “Fantastic Baby”. His last production in is 2NE1’s “I Love You”, in which he introduces new styles to the already genre amalgam that is 2NE1.
Although I personally wouldn’t mind Teddy looking back at his hip-hop origins in the middle of the electro-pop spiral he seems to be buried in, the fact is that in only a few years, Teddy has managed to produce some of YG’s biggest hits and create a unique sound — if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check D-Unit’s teasers, produced by Teddy and Kush –, and he can definitely be considered as one of the most representative K-pop producers.