I, as a lover of all kinds of music, and while perhaps genetically/historically feeling a connection to many forms of what may be called Modern Urban Black-American hip-hop, R&B, and pop music because of my Black-Japanese heritage, have also begun to listen to Asian forms of “Black Urban” music from the United States. These Asian forms add their own heritages to the richness, breadth and depth of the Black Urban traditions, while also understanding it as a displacement. But music has always been this.
One of the best first generation of Korean Hip-Hop, Rap and Pop-R&B, is P-Type. He also began in Korean Psychedelic Rock, debuting with his first album in 2004. and is also a drummer, MC and DJ. Since his talent is immense, he has remained a hugely popular artist in Korea and internationally, including known in Japanese and American circles.
In my own thinking and observation, Korean Hip-Hop (K-Hip-hop) keeps much of the angst and “soul” of resistance and suffering, the the American urban Black hip-hop traditions express in their rhythm, beats, and expressions via the voice, movement, and the beauty of melody and counter-melodies. As well, Korean R&B (K-R&B) brings a skill in singing technique that much of the Japanese expressions in Japanese R&B misses. Keep in mind, this is personal opinion based in my own takes on studying and playing music and listening to it and appreciating the best since the 1950s.
As I have mentioned previously in other posts, in their own communities in Asia, they are not allowed to express these things in their traditional manner, from their own minority-traditions. For instance, a Zainichi Korean in Japan, cannot express things in Korean pop style, unless they sing in the Japanese Enka style. In Korea, mainstream Koreans can express sadness, but anger at society is not usually allowed unless created as a song that is either “sad” or “philosophical” or mixed with romance. This is basically true nowadays, since the 1970s, in most nation-states, including the United States. In Asia, the Black-Urban music traditions allow things to be said and expressed, where their own cultural traditions are not allowed. Therefore, my point is that the Black-American Hip-hop and Rap traditions allow the non-mainstream Koreans to express their resistance and anger and pain, as well as joys and reflections that would not be allowed if it were “local.” That being said, they are not merely “copies” of American hip-hop. They bring themselves into it to create their own.
I think that Japanese R&B (J-R&B) and Hip-Hop (J-Hip-Hop) seems afraid or out-of-touch with anger, and more in tune with sadness. Also, in technique, many of the singers and musicians I feel are more skilled, are not the ones that are popularized by Japanese media, but retain strong followings online and in CD sales. Strangely, many (not all, mind you) of the top Japanese Hip-Hop and Rap artists, come from disadvantaged backgrounds such as Zainichi Korean and Buraku class and mixed-race families. For most, they begin their careers in the areas in Japan noted for what some would consider “non-mainstream” Japan, or “where the coolest Japanese musicians come from.”
Like in most nations, Korea offers the marginalized and the angry, to express, and indeed are perhaps the only place to publicly express these stories. K-Hip-hop and K-R&B brings those together.
Here I present some earlier and more recent videos.
P-Type does his Korean version of “Do the Right Rap” originally by the American group The Swings.
피타입(P-Type)-독종 – Vicious One