Brace yourself…provocative thoughts in this one.
XVI. Korean Hip Hop – 1TYM and Drunken Tiger
In 2008, I was 21-years-old and still a novice to life and the way of the world. One of the many things I claimed ignorance to…was the significance of hip hop. The appeal of it was lost on me.
Even when I was a kid, I wasn’t very fond of hip hop music. It felt like every asshole and bully I’ve ever met was influenced by hip hop. They called me names and picked on me, and the one thing they all had in common was their love for hip hop, the culture, the music, the fashion. Even in pre-school, I remember two girls who used to attack me while singing, “Momma Said Knock You Out!”
So yeah…I hated it.
And probably the main reason why I hated it so much was because it seemed like there was something wrong with me for not liking it. As a black kid growing up in the south, it was unheard of. Everyone else was into Tupac and Biggie and the Wu-Tang clan…meanwhile this chubby light-skin kid over here who was super emotional and threw temper tantrums was into groups like the Backstreet Boys and Nsync.
I couldn’t help it. I tried. As a kid who wanted to make my dad happy and fit in with the rest of the other kids, I tried so hard to fall in love with hip hop. But to my ears, it was just garbage. It didn’t move me. I couldn’t relate to what they were talking about nor could I grasp the gifts they possessed. That’s not just with hip hop, but also R&B. It just didn’t do anything for me. Felt inadequate. So I wanted nothing to do with that world.
Flash forward to 2008…and suddenly I’m listening to hip hop acts like Drunken Tiger and 1TYM. Doesn’t make sense does it? Do I really hate the English language so much?
The answer is yes and no. Allow me to explain. The answer is “yes,” in that I can’t stand lyrics that glorify and encourage bad behavior. This sounds a bit contradictory considering I listened to Slipknot or Dir En Grey, but life’s like that.
Personally, it hurts my soul when I hear of black on black violence, of gang violence. I’ve seen friends get jumped for the sake of fun. I’ve seen fights where a dude got the shit kicked out of him just because the other guy wanted to show how hardcore he was. You can tell me all day that hip hop music isn’t to blame for this, the glorification of thug culture, leading to more children being born out of wedlock, the seeking of money and materialistic things.
Yes…there was a deep resentment for hip hop back then. Still is in some ways. But the difference between now and then is that I understand it. Much like I understand how one would be driven to theft or robbery if they feel that’s the only choice they have to survive. Doesn’t make it alright. But at least I understand. Proverbs 30: 7-9, tells us not to want riches or poverty. If you get too rich you may be tempted to stop depending on God. If you get too poor, it could lead to you profaning the name of God. (by breaking his commandments just to survive)
The answer is also “no”…in that I didn’t dislike American hip hop solely because of its lyrical content…I just never had a gateway to it.
For instance, it’s not like I just rolled out of bed and liked head-banging metal music. Nah. I liked action films. I was obsessed with martial arts that often had a rock soundtrack. Even my favorite Michael Jackson songs as a child had the sickest guitar riffs in it. Ever heard of “Beat It?” Or Dirty Diana? Or Black or White.
The best of “Black or White” for me was the break down where Michael Jackson’s walking through the flames. That’s metal! So when I discovered Slipknot…I was like… “Hell yes! An entire track where the whole song is the favorite part of another song!? Yes, please. I’ll take more of that.”
I didn’t have a positive gateway into hip hop growing up. It was always negative, as I mentioned. So why in the hay would I want to hear more of that?
By early 2008 however…I believe a gateway had manifested from the kpop I listened to. Hahaha! I honestly didn’t even realize it. These theories I’m typing now (in 2019) I wouldn’t fully understand it till later. For well over a year, I’d been listening to songs from H.O.T. and NRG that features heavy rap sections from the members. I’ve been listening to Big Bang that had TOP and G-Dragon spitting lyrics, albeit to dance tracks, not exactly authentic hip hop.
But then, I’ve also been listening to Epik High.