K-Pop Beyond The Charts is a weekly review column highlighting Korea’s modern day musical innovators who have yet to find mainstream success.
The number of genres becoming standard in a South Korean pop song seems to increase by the day.
To the already dense mixture of old skool rap, ’90s techno and modern pop that artists like Psy and Girls’ Generation rode to international fame just a few years ago, Hallyu acts have begun adding funk, jazz and more various idioms of rap and electro than you can probably name.
Though the resulting musical fallout can often leave the listener feel as though they are hearing the work of a nearly schizophrenic producer tossing in endless ingredients that may or may not be simpatico, when an artist exploring a mixture of sounds and styles has the control of a great chef who can create a perfect blend that is greater than the sum of it’s parts, the results can be truly magical.
Frequent musical collaborators in the Korean hip-hop scene, Lil Boy of the popular group Geeks and rapper Basick joined up with Mamamoo vocalist Hwasa on the new single “Call Me,” released on Monday. The result is one of the most uniquely hard-hitting songs of the year so far for exactly that reason–a fantastic mixture of a long list of elements.
Alternating between a halftime beat that Hwasa transforms into an epically dreamy interlude on the chorus and a bench-clearing ” Hey Ya! “-style dance beat, “Call Me” never stays in one place long enough to get tiresome. Rather, the song lays into each groove for just the right amount of time before drifting into more abstract places.
And speaking of laying into it, Lil Boi and Basick earn a spot at the table with Korea’s most skilled rappers on “Call Me,” their flurry of rhymes executed with ease should be an inspiring thing to behold for rappers of all nationalities.
The pair use considerably more vintage synthesizers on “Call Me” than the average funk throwback, with the end of the song drifting into an oscillated mass recalling ’70s prog icons like Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Yes. It’s a bold and effective choice.
While US rap stars like Kanye West or Jay-Z keep their feet planted firmly in hip-hop while working to expand their own sonic canvases, it’s exciting to see artists like Lil Boi, Basick and Hwasa willing to go all the way with forging new musical ground unhindered by allegiance to any one scene, while exploring past musical movements long since discarded by mainstream Western audiences.
Watch the music video for “Call Me” the new single from Lil Boi Of Geeks and Basick also featuring vocalist Hwasa of the K-pop girl group Mamamoo RIGHT HERE