K-HIPHOP / K-INDIE

Lesser Stuff You Need To Know, Vol. 5

Welcome back, Neighbors! So good to be back writing about my monthly collection of songs from the depths of Korea. The last couple of months were littered with music, but here is a couple of hip-hop tracks, a R&B/jazz/hip-hop hybrid, a ballad for the heart and something classified as “acoustic punk”. Intrigued? You should be, so read on!

Verbal Jint – “Classic”

In partnership with Reebok for their new line of sneakers and sports urban wear, Verbal Jint is back with a rap track that is, well, classic. The beat is laid back, with an old school vibe that feels fresh, not dated. Produced by Psycoban, “Classic” captures that gritty Bronx feel to a T, which is ironic considering neither of them has been to the birthplace of hip-hop. As for the hip-hop MC, VJ sticks to rapping here, throwing shout outs to everyone from Dynamic Duo to B2ST and his own “You Look Beautiful” single. The beauty is that VJ doesn’t take himself too seriously, making “Classic” an awesome hip-hop track fit for both Reebok and VJ’s stellar catalog.



Coverstone – “Don’t Wanna Make Love”

The R&B/jazz/hip-hop hybrid has been done before, with the current trend of jazz infiltrating the hip-hop and R&B market for close to a year now. In this debut single, Coverstone takes what would’ve sounded like a love song into a break-up track. The duo are solid singers, working with a stable range that’s not ambitious, but with the beats’ chill vibe, the vocal strategy works wonderfully. With the inclusion of Winterplay’s trumpeter Juhan, DJ It and rapper Baekyeong, the track is elevated to smooth jazz heaven. Nothing is too overwhelming, nor is anything hidden; “Don’t Wanna Make Love” is perfectly balanced and deserving of a listen …or five.



B-Free – “Come On”

Hi-Lite Records is on a roll, mother-fathers, and they know it. The latest rapper with a solo release, B-Free, continues that momentum with “Come On”. This Hawaiian-born rapper has a killer delivery, with a phrasing that bounces along to the beats produced by resident producer Prima Vista. Where VJ’s track feels old-school, “Come On” is contemporary, with many of the troupes that make Hi-Lite tracks unique in underground hip-hop. The track is fun and the MV emphasizes that with a BMX team doing tricks in a variety of locales, SoCal-style. Seriously, it’s awesome.



Gangneung Hotel – “My Heart That Wants to Hold You Tight (acoustic punk version)”

When I first heard the original track, I was underwhelmed. It was over-processed and its 80’s synth production didn’t feel original to me. It was an imitation of the electronic music of the 80’s, where it should’ve belonged. (To hear for yourself, click here.) But this remix is exactly what the original should have been: light, fun and with just enough electronic effects to stand out among other acoustic remixes. The lead singer is front and center and leads the band along this bouncy, hand-clapping track. Don’t let the acoustic in the title fool you; this isn’t your mom’s acoustic song. “My Heart” is quick, with quick guitar work and what sounds like a fuzzed harmonica solo, something I’ve never heard before. Gangneung Hotel’s remix of “My Heart” is one of the reasons why k-indie is a haven for me; taking tried templates and making them unique.



Tim – “Love Is Bad”

Tim is slowly growing to be one of my favorite male vocalists. With a voice that’s smooth and expressive, this Pennsylvania-born singer is underrated. His range isn’t as wide as Kim Bum Soo, and not as popular. But with a steady career, Tim is poised to stick around for a long time. “Love is Bad” is the classic piano ballad, with nothing that stands out musically. What does is Tim. His last release, ‘A Long Day’, was nice, but “Love is Bad” does it one better. His voice is full, rarely using falsetto and just amazing. It’s climax is somewhat lacking, but the emotion is there. A wonderful release from a singer who should be more popular than he currently is.


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Thanks for reading, Neighbors. February is posed to be a month full of fabulous releases and I can’t wait to bring you more amazing stuff. 언녕! ^_^

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