South Korea's Rap Monster Put Strange Music on the Map & Made Me a Fan

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DJBooth Nation is the greatest nation!

Seriously, I love each one of y'all. If you ever need to crash on a futon, grab a dogsitter or want to rock a Detox shirt my door is always open; it's the least I can do. I get paid to live in the world of music, y'all do it for the love of hip-hop and nothing else. We have one of the only sites where the comment section isn't filled with trolls, haters and people offering you thousands of dollars to work at home and I couldn't be more honored to talk write for y'all. Give yourselves a round of applause.

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Case in point, the comment section of my TIDAL review. The G nailed how I felt with, "you are renting music, you ain't owning nothing but the software you downloaded to play it, if that," but what I really took away from the comment section was a music suggestion from LoPro.

And since you like music from all over, may I suggest South Korea's Rap Monster. 

As the self-appointed Worldwide Ambassador for Hip-Hop, I'm always down for some great, international rap. Hip-hop started in a building in the Bronx and in just 40 short years has expanded to every corner of the world. I don't get to travel as much as I would like, so often hip-hop is my plane ticket. I may not always understand the lyrics, but I can feel the passion and, of course, the production. It's amazing when you connect to a song despite language and culture barriers. Still, I've never been to South Korea and I've never even had Kimchi, so I was a little worried; what was I in for?  I don't know why, but I couldn't help but think of Tommy Cash. I was expecting some crazy, outrageous trap character, something crazy that would be dope, but not pure, real hip-hop. 

Well, holy fucking shit. It's awesome! No bullshit. No "is this real?" No gimmicks, just a dude who can really spit. It's real hip-hop and it hit me right in the Seoul. I had to know more, so I ventured into the black hole that is the internet and got the scoop. Turns out Rap Monster is a member of Korean boy band, Bangtan Boys, or BTS. I hate to make this super unoriginal comparison, but they seem kind of like One Direction; not necessarily in sound but in fan obsession. When I did a Twitter search most of it was in Korean, but I gathered that they have a crazy passionate fan base. there are literally twitter accounts dedicated to 'em. Remember when the internet freaked out Zayn Malik left One Direction? BTS makes that look like childs play. Also, Check out this live performance where girls are going fucking nuts. 

It may be hard to hear over the thousands of girls freaking out, but did anyone catch Tech N9ne in there? Turns out they used Krizz Kaliko's "Spaz" and as a result, their fans flocked to Strange Music, to the point where even Strange took notice. In an interview on Strange Music's own show, Indie Grind Radio, Krizz and the Strange crew were blown away by the amount of retweets and views they received from BTS' fanbase. (It's crazy how a group can have so much power and influence and yet still be virtual unknown in America.) It's mind blowing to think about someone outside of Strange Music putting Strange Music on the map, but BTS essentially made them popular in Korea. They may be a boy band, but that's power. Anyway, as it turns out, Rap Monster is a huge fan of Krizz Kaliko, so naturally Krizz and Rap Monster got to talking and ended up making a track together. Oh, it's also amazing. 

I wasn't blowing smoke when I said it's amazing. I've had it on repeat all week. The most amazing part is that Rap Monster doesn't sound lost or out of his league. I'm sure I'm being an ignorant American, but frankly I wasn't expecting this kind of quality. What's consistent in any Strange Music track is the power and production value; the potency. It takes a special artist to be able to fit that kind of mold, and I simply didn't expect a Korean boy band rapper to have the chops to hang, and yet here he was blowing me away. I've listened to this cut over and over and yet it still has this fresh feel to it. It made me excited to check out his new tape where he raps over beats like "Grown Simba" and some Dilla. 

After a few listens I'm officially a Rap Monster fan. It took me a minute to get over the whole boy band thing, but once I did I really enjoyed what I heard. I really like the balance between rapping in Korean and rapping in English. If the project was all in Korean, I'm not sure I could have connected with him but by mixing the two languages together he provides the listener with a brand new experience; I don't feel like a passive listener. Shit even when he's rapping in Korean, I can still feel his words. He's got a hunger and an excitement that can be felt in any language. 

I know I said it earlier, but hip-hop is remarkable. I went from an article about JAY Z's streaming music service to researching information about Korean rap all in the span of an hour and finding that Strange Music connection was the icing on the cake. 

Korean hip-hop is the greatest! Strange Music is the greatest! DJBooth Nation is the greatest! Hip-hop is the greatest!

[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]

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