Yesterday ended for me just as any other in the EBONY digital offices; scheduling the night’s content and figuring out how I could get back to Brooklyn from Midtown while remaining as warm as possible in the 16 degree weather. But just as 6:00PM came closer, I found myself clicking on a random YouTube link. It was entirely in Korean, and had several iPhone “Fire Flame” emojis behind it. As someone whose curiosity is regularly tested, I clicked the link only to have my (admittedly Americanized) perception of pop culture blown away with the force of an atomic bomb. It was a Korean man, performing at some mega-stadium, in what looked like an awards ceremony. And he was rapping. And he was KILLING IT.
Normally, whenever I catch randomly cool things like this, I rewind to the beginning for reassurance that I’m not bugging out, but after three rewinds, the fact remained; this kid was shutting this show down. After watching more, he was joined on stage by two more rappers who assisted in the domination of the show, and then it hit me: these guys are rapping in the same flow and cadence as some of my favorite rappers from the South, most noticeably, Atlanta trio Migos. The resemblance was uncanny, the influence, spot-on, and it led me down the Internet rabbit hole trying to figure out just who these guys are. That, and I managed to live-tweet my findings with fellow music-heads @Cool_1ne and @FiveFifths.
After some research, I found YG Entertainment’s Bobby, who alongside The Qquiet and Dok2, performed the Korean smash hit, “YGGR #HipHop” at the 2014 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong. I already knew that hip-hop culture is huge in Asia, and that any number of underground and “traditional” Hip-Hop artists in America make the majority of their income doing Asian tours. But to see just how much US rap culture is mimic down to the details was a legitimate shock for me. Simply look at the aesthetics: gold chain on top of gold chain, snap-back hats, leather jogger sets, even the “turnt up” dances members of the crowd would do as Bobby rocked the stage.
You could swap that venue in Hong Kong and place them at Giants Stadium for Hot 97’s legendary “Summer Jam” concert and not much would be different. The way Dok2 would space out his braggadocious lyrics to match the drum signature of the 808-laced track reminds me of something Future or Quavo would make on a Metro Boomin instrumental. This leads me to wonder, what if there’s some alternate universe on the other side of the world that has their own versions of America’s superstars? A Japanese equivalent to Kanye West? A Chinese equivalent to Beyonce? The Korean Migos?
Whether that exists or not, I can say that “YGGR #HipHop” was the hottest song I heard yesterday, and even if you have zero clue what they’re saying (a look at the translated lyrics here), I felt it would be a crime not to share. Takeoff, there may be a collaborative effort in Korea for you.
Check out the video below:
Cory Townes was born and raised in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. A devout Philly sports fan, Townes is the Social Media Manager for EBONY.com. When he’s not cheering for his Philadelphia Eagles or creating musical playlists for the people, you can reach him on Twitter @CoryTownes.