From time to time, I feel the urge to go chasing some new guilty pleasure on the kpop’s TOP 10. There I found colorful pop groups like The Wonder Girls, Miss A and 2NE1, with that old school pop sound (think Spice Girls and early Britney), good choreography and all the wigs you can imagine (although the colours don’t seem to have that many variety). As much fun as they are, you can see that they are really a local phenomenon. But none of them are GD & TOP, a duo that have impressive songs and ever better looks. But who the fuck are GD & TOP, Wikipedia?
Choi Seung-hyun is T.O.P and Kwon Ji-Yong is G-Dragon; both South Korean musicians. The first is also an actor and the latter a music producer. They both got really famous by joining the all-male pop group Big Bang, but felt that they could do more as rappers on their own; so they asked permission from the CEO of their label (awww) who allowed them to go solo for a while.
GD&TOP the debut album was released on 24th of December in Korea and in Japan just this February, and although waiting to explore more of their rap side, is very multifaceted. R’n’B, discopop, cheesy electronics soaked in autotune...there's a bit of everything – even bad (like, really bad) music.
The debut single, ‘High High’, is a club anthem that would make any one of the Jersey Shore cast pump their fist to the sky - and you can see in the chorus the kind of incentive behind that move. The track, self-described as “G.H.E.T.T.O E.L.E.C.T.R.O”, sounds like something that Will.I.Am would produce to buy himself another mansion. It’s not a great start, but definitely shows they can become the next Far East Movement, which is, at least, trending.
In the video, the duo opt for the nightclub theme that allows them to show how incredibly stylish they are. TOP is a really tall and handsome with a love for casual suits and blazers. He's rocking a bleached 'do that looks better than Mark Ronson’s (sorry buddy, but expensive as it obviously was, it really didn’t work that well for you). GD has an afro shaped into a pouf (forealz) and is more of a shiney jacket type of man. In the video he even wears Fanny and Jessy, which makes him even cooler.
Now, next single ‘Oh Yeah!’ has grown on me a lot lately. Remember when Calvin Harris roped Dizzee Rascal into that summer smash hit? This is quite similar, but even bigger. Featuring Park Bom, the lead vocal on 2NE1, in a moment that puts Fergie to shame with her “I gotta feeling”-shit. Unfortunately, this song doesn’t have an official video, but there is a TV presentation that will do just as well because it features all the girls from 2NE1 plus dance choreography.
And now ladies and gentleman, the song that introduced me to the duo: the brilliant ‘Knocked OuT’. Produced by Diplo (let’s accept once and for all that Wesley is omniscient), the song talks about how cool they are, how jealous people try and get close to them and how they adore to pop bubbles – which is the reason this hip hop instrumental has lots of bubble sounds. But before we go to the actual song, let’s see what Diplo has to say about it.
"I went to Seoul to DJ last year for the first time… I don’t even remember how I met any of the Kpop crew, but someone got in touch with someone… I was a super fan of 2NE1, those girls are killing it. People don’t know that Kpop sort of runs all of Asia and now Japan is the main market for these artists, but every one of these guys have proper Korean and English skills. My beat was for some kids in this Kpop crew from one of the biggest groups, BIG BANG. They are sort like NKOTB/JAY-Z/Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber all mixed into one act. GD and TOP are the main rappers that go in for verse 3 in every Big Bang song. YOU can tell from GD and TOP that they are rapper-rappers, not phonies. They have crazy flow, they wear tiny pants on top of tanks talking about Swag... These are my favorite new rappers! I didn’t realize they were a big deal. I sent a beat over a couple months back and then [it became a] youtube hit and got a mil views in 2 weeks. Kinda swag! The styling is sooooo much better then US rap, it’s really sad. Anyway, I’m moving to Korea now.”*
And he finished his post with the instrumental version of the song, which you can download below.
When Diplo started talking about them singing about swag on top of tanks, he meant it literally. As you can see from the video for ‘Knocked Out’, which is really quite simple and minimal yet, because of the fashion, toy art and scenery pieces, is also really luxurious. Basically, if I had a band today and it wasn’t a sorrowful indie one I would dream of having a video like this.
And when we thought that they wouldn’t release another video, they hit us with this completely different facet in ‘Baby Good Night’. For a start, this song features a girl speaking in a sexy french voice. And then there's this R’n’B style that reminds me of a lot of the Justin Timberlake’s encounters with Timbaland – falsettos, big drums, acoustic guitars and electric pianos included. The film shows them late night at home wearing awesome robes and pajamas, drinking champagne and missing their girlfriends (I still don't get what the snake is doing in the bed, so I’m assuming it has some meaning in Korean). You can’t get any classier than that, honestly.
We might finally be done with the videos, but there are still two more amazing songs on the album. ‘Intro’, is the best intro a pop album could ever get, featuring sample of "It's Yours to Have" by Freda Payne, and ‘Don't Go Home’, as well as ‘Make It with You’ by Bread. All very sunny pieces of disco/funk hip hop.
Now some final considerations on GD & TOP. It’s so funny how they put English words in the final of their verses and even sing in Korean with a misleading English accent (which makes me really confused, as I’m not a native and don’t know all the words in the language). And as Diplo said, the Occident doesnt have hip hop icons as sylish as these two here.
But anyway, with lyrics like:
I may like toys more than girls
but laugh at me
and you’ll get hurt
My long eyelashes are born from natural freedom
different from disgusting smoky makeup
- makes them much cooler than any of the clothes they are wearing.
Anyway, as you can see, we're pretty obsessed with these two lately (so much that they just got the biggest text I'm ever written here on the blog), but I really believe we're going to hear big things about them.
And how can you not love a duo who uses a symbol of a hand with two fingers up resembling a Playboy bunny?
*sorry, Wesley. I had to edit your text to make more sense.**
**Ed: and it still doesn't make all that much sense!