Godfather of Korean hip-hop wants to bridge gap between rap music and K-pop

Godfather of Korean hip-hop wants to bridge gap between rap music and K-pop
Korean hip hop couple Tiger JK and his wife Yoon Mi Rae.

The man dubbed the godfather of Korean hip-hop, Tiger JK, alongside his queen of hip-hop wife Yoon Mi-rae and long-time friend Bizzy, have proclaimed their new album "Wondaland" is one of the driving forces that helps blur the distinctions between Korean rap music and K-pop.

"I know many people are anticipating a hip-hop album from us, but to the three of us, this is our attempt at trying to reinterpret the definition of K-pop," said Tiger JK during a press conference held at the M Academy Concert Hall in Gangnam-gu on Wednesday.

MFBTY (My Fan's Better Than Yours) dropped the group's 16-track album on Thursday, marking the act's first full-length release since debuting as a trio two years ago.

The album features a smattering of collaborations with outside artists, from piano ballad king You Hee-yeol to legendary rock singer Jeon In-gwon and K-pop star Yong Jun-hyung of Beast.

"Although rap is the foundation of the album, we have also included a wide variety of genres such as rock and EDM ― the album is just all over the place, and that is how we landed on the album title 'Wondaland,'" Tiger JK added.

The members of MFBTY stated that suggestions from fans was just one of the pushes that led them down the path of looking to mesh together mainstream K-pop sounds with their signature style of rapping. In the current local music scene, the hip-hop world is often see as a separate entity from the K-pop realm, where K-pop artists are referred to as idol stars and hip-hop artists consider most K-pop "rappers" merely as non-hardcore pop stars.

"With this new album we really took into consideration suggestions from not only other artists that we worked with, but from the public as well," said Tiger JK.

Although the rapper shared that the notion to combine the forces of K-pop and hip-hop was suggested by a number of fans through social media, he said one of the biggest K-pop wake-up calls that led him to attempt this auditory hybrid was actually his son.

"I will admit that K-pop is not the kind of music I tend to listen to on a normal basis, but one day Jordan (Tiger JK and Yoon Mi-rae's six-year-old son) and my nephew were watching some K-pop programme on TV," he explained. "Just looking at their reactions ― dancing around and singing along with the songs ― I thought to myself, there's obviously some merit with this music, and so this really started to spark my interest."

Since then, the members of MFBTY have started hitting the recording studios and experimenting with new sounds. Interestingly enough, although the trio has unveiled its massive 16-track "Wondaland" album, it was revealed that the release was initially intended to be a small-scale EP.

"We practically lived in the studio," said the rapper. "We practically stayed up all night for two months straight preparing for this album, just cranking out new songs ... we are very nervous, but also really anxious to see how the public will respond to our new musical approach."

The newly released album features three lead singles ― ballad/rap collaboration track "Hello Happy," featuring You on piano; the up-tempo Indian scat EDM hip-hop single "Bang Diggy Bang Bang;" and "Glistening Eyes," a disco dance music-inspired EDM track.

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