‘Show Me the Money’ Season 5 is launching soon, so make sure you’re all caught up with the giants of the Korean Hip Hop industry.
Although you may recall cutesy girl groups and pretty boy groups when you think of K-Pop, Korean hip hop tracks fare just as well at the top of numerous music boards. Some claim that Korea has entered a hip hop era, as various hip hop tracks as well as TV programs continue to rake in the money and attention.
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Most notably, the rapping survival show ‘Show Me the Money’ has gained numerous love and attention from Koreans. On the show, hip hop musicians show off their hardcore energy and killer lines in order to win the title as the SMTM champion. Unlike the entertainment companies that produce mostly K-Pop idols, the Korean hip hop scene is mostly made up of small labels that specialize only in the hip hop genre. Their artists make their own tapes, write their own lyrics, and the label solely helps in the production and marketing department.
We’ve organized the top hip hop labels of Korea, so take a look to learn about each label’s own feel and style.
Founded by Dynamic Duo’s GaeKo and ChoiZa over 10 years ago, Amoeba culture is now home to a variety of top hip hop artists. The label is dubbed as the backbone of Korea’s hip hop culture, as its roots are deep within the genre’s first gain in popularity and awareness. It started off solely on rapping, but has now expanded into the African American music genre. Home to major names such as Primary, Crush, Rhythm Power, and more; it was also the birth place of Zion.T‘s music career.
(Dok2, The Quiett)
Illionaire was founded by Dok2 and The Quiett back in 2011. Among all of the Korean hip hop labels, Illionaire was the fastest in adapting to American trends in hip hop. Their signature style is Trap Music, with their iconic song ‘YGGR (Chain Link)’. The label dons exclusivity as the duo only keeps to themselves, and have only invited one new artist to their label, Beenzino.
Brand New Music
The famous rapper Rhymer started off the label for his music career, but has since added a lineup of the top names in hip hop. The record now houses artists such as Verbal Jint, San E, Bumkey, P-Type and Kitty B. With well known rapper names on its lineup, Brand New Music is always listed at the top of hip hop label lists. The label’s signature style features smooth melodies with moving rap rhymes mixed in between. The company boosts that Rap does not necessarily equal Hip Hop. They seek to reach out the the general public as well as the hip hop scenes.
Brand New Music
Hi-Lite Records houses hip hop legends such as Palo Alto, S’WAY.D, Huckleberry P, and more. Although its artists started off underground, their talent and fame had risen the company name to above ground. With its fame and change in business style, CJ E&M had bought out the company, and since has been working together. The label’s sound features American hip hop styles with trendy tunes that correlate well with the 1990’s music. Their recent hit was ‘Turtle Ship’ that was featured in SMTM4.
Established by Swings, Just Music is the home to Giriboy, Nochang, BlackNut, Vasco, Cjamm and more. Much of the label’s artists have found fame through previous seasons of SMTM. The label is best known for their controversial, yet addictive lyrics.
Just Music Ent
Probably the best known label to both Koreans and foreign fans, YG Family was founded by SeoTaeJi and Boys’ Yang HyunSuk (aka Papa YG) under YG Entertainment. Since its beginning, YG’s sole focus was in hip hop tracks that appeal both to the general public as well as hip hop maniacs. YG’s style and feel has developed during recent years with a mix of R&B and softer tones, gaining more fanbase around the globe from different generations. From old school hip hop giants such as Masta Wu and 1TYM, YG has continually generated the next generation of hip hop artists such as SMTM 3’s winner Bobby. One, a recent YG trainee and former 1PUNCH member, will also be appearing again in the upcoming SMTM season 5.
VISMAJOR & DAZE ALIVE
With much interest due to, global star, Diplo’s backup and support, VISMAJOR houses power artists such as Wutan and Don Mills. DAZE ALIVE, founded by Jerry.K, has an extensive line up that includes Rico and Sleeq. DAZE ALIVE is best known for their innovative lyrics that focuses on the current issues that are well known to cause controversies. These two labels are commonly seen working together in ruling the indie underground scene of Korean hip hop.
Arguably the best known Korean hip hop label among foreign fans, AOMG was founded by Jay Park after his leave from 2PM. Since AOMG’s launch in 2013, the label had gained much love and attention from the hip hop scene as well as idol fans. A short while after, Simon Dominic was brought on board as a Co-CEO, and most recently, AOMG has decided to hold hands with CJ E&M for their production business. Home to the up and coming giants of Korean hip hop such as Gray, Ugly Duck and Loco, AOMG always garnered much love with every album release and SMTM appearances. Jay Park is well known to not only focus his company on rap, but also R&B as well as the latest trends in African American music.
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