Panning for Gold: South Korean Hip-Hop and R&B

Digging for Gold is HYPEBEAST’s monthly playlist series that shines a light on the regions of the world and the genres that flow from them. By bringing together a mix of essentials and hidden gems, we hope to add to your way of discovering music and give you the thrill of finding new tunes.

From K-pop to K-dramas, South Korean pop culture has taken the world by storm in an unprecedented way. As BTS and BLACKPINK have become international sensations, the spotlight on the country’s music exports has turned eyes and ears to its emerging hip-hop and R&B scene. As we move forward into 2022, we’re partnering with HYPEBEAST Korea to uncover the up-and-coming talents who are disrupting the industry and are also on their way to becoming global phenomena.

As the two genres settle in the area, they also flourish by coexisting in the same space. When it comes to South Korean hip-hop, lessons are drawn from American trap sounds, heavy 808s, fast hats, and lyrical freedom. R&B, meanwhile, borrows contemporary styles, capitalizes on nostalgia and even embraces local pop influences. What sets this scene apart from its Western counterparts, however, is the fluidity and linguistic nuances that allow for reinvention.

Leading the takeover are rap mainstays like Jay Park, Epik High, CL, DPR LIVE, Changmo, Lil Cherry, as well as R&B crooners like Zion.T, Crush, Dean and Sam Kim. Underground artists include BIBI, CAMO, Paul Blanco, SUMIN, Kim Ximya and many more, while those from bigger bands like Colde, sogumm and E SENS have also had successful solo forays.

Those names don’t do justice to South Korea’s ability to remain steadfast as a musical and cultural juggernaut. As the world watches the nation’s hip-hop and R&B talent continue to occupy new spaces, be sure to jump on board with our latest playlist below.

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