written by: Drowningn00b
Choreography is a mainstay in K-Pop – from the suggestive gyrations by JYP in “Kiss” to the leg flips of SNSD’s “Genie”. Certain dance moves come to define artists, like Rain’s t-shirt tearing at concerts and shows, and others launch rookies into idols, like SISTAR’s pole-dances. Whether fans like it or not, if you can’t put on a show as an idol, you don’t go far.
As an act of defiance, or conformity, dance troupe Prepix did away with vocals of their own with their “Look to Listen” series. They’ve brought in producers and idols to do all that for them, from the love songs of Jay Park and G.NA to the “play on the senses” electro-dance “What I See” with Esna, B2ST’s Jun Hyung and Beenzino. It’s a strategy that works, releasing solid dance-pop and it continues on ‘Look to Listen’, but adding hip-hop into the mix.
Prepix teased this new direction with “What I See”, focusing on rap rather than singing. Look to Listen’ begins with the dubstep-infused “Get Down”. Over a hard bass beat, DJ Wegun spins and scratches throughout, following in the footsteps of Grandline Entertainment’s DJ Dopsh. In a way, “Get Down” serves as the intro to The Quiett-produced rap-fest, “Skillz”. A production that brings to mind cars grinding against concrete, this track has a different take on the rap game. “Money makes sense, but I don’t trick or treat/If my heart ain’t in it, I let it skip a beat.” These lines by Swings, as well as those in the hook, show that hip-hop is about the hustle, but if the aim is just money, it isn’t fun.
What these two tracks reveal is how money plays into the hip-hop scene. With the success stories of Jungle Entertainment and 1llionaire Records, there are countless that don’t reach such heights. Haw recognizes this, since most of his income comes from creating choreography for Cube artists. The “Look to Listen” project may not be financially lucrative, but it is fun. That could not be better stated than in “When I Get Paid” with Yoseob. There’s an irony in Yoseob singing about needing to wait to party, but his image of earnestness makes it believable. And for the first time in a while, K-Pop and English fit here. Roughly translated, “When I get paid, baby girl, let’s fly/It will be so nice”. That honesty, Yoseob’s light delivery and the R&B-pop production that accompanies it all, refines what began in “Love’s Little Helpers” to well-done pop.
The artwork to “Look to Listen: 3rd Album” could not be more symbolic if Dan Brown thought it up. The contrasting image of black dancers on a white background shows the difference between the album’s two singles. Yoseob’s “When I Get Paid” is a light and glossy track with the wide pop audience in mind. On the other side of the Prepix spectrum, “Skillz” is a grimy hip-hop track that goes hard. Oddly, both complement each other. B-boying takes aspects from pop, dance, R&B, hip-hop and electronic music, so it was a matter of time until Haw and the Prepix squad moved into the “streets’ side of the dance form. With “3rd Album”, Prepix is one of the few acts that can bring together the separate camps of kpop and underground hip-hop.
Singles of any kind are not rated with the same rating system used for mini and full albums.