The project came from a longterm frustration I’ve had over the past six years: On Western music platforms, all genres of Korean music get lumped into a singular label. There is no elevated, well-branded space that highlights the Korean creative artists (especially in hip hop, R&B, and soul genres) whose work I personally love.
As a Korean American in Southern California, I grew up around a lot of hip hop, R&B, and soul music. The feel good tunes of Los Angeles hip hop were always playing in the ears of everyone around me. Of course, it wasn’t just us. I was in middle school in 2005 and the top artists of that year included people like Mariah Carey, Kanye West, The Pussycat Dolls, Missy Elliott, Rihanna, 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, Bow Wow, Chris Brown, and Amerie.
While I was listening to Korean music at home or in private, listening to hip hop was the only way to fit in. I spent many years doing my best to hide the fact that I listened to non-American music. This is why it was shocking when I entered college and found dozens of individuals who looked nothing like me, who loved Korean music, even despite the language barrier. They were mostly fans of Korean pop music, but it made me realize the Internet had helped in spreading the word about what was happening in that scene.
Fast forward to the present, I’m still a bit surprised at how much hip hop and R&B as genres have taken off in Korea’s music scene. The artists I grew up on were people like Drunken Tiger, Yoon Mirae, Epik High, Lee Min Woo, Rain, and MC Mong. It was a pretty tight roster that actually made it to the charts. Today, obviously, it’s thriving and very much has become mainstream. This project is simply an expression of exploring this specific space from a creative and cultural perspective.
in the works
Seoul Tribe is a creative podcast about Korean artists and their music. Season One will highlight the artists I personally like, walk through their lives, and contextualize their best works. As of writing this post, the overall framework of the project has been set and I’m diving head first into writing. The next few WOL posts I write about Seoul Tribe will mostly likely be about the resources, research, and creative writing process.
Until next time x.