An Intro to K-R&B

These days, everyone seems to know K-Pop stars such as BTS, Blackpink, and Twice. K-Pop has been getting rapid attention in the Western world and has grown in popularity over the past few years. Because of K-Pop’s fame, many people have the misconception that K-Pop makes up Korea’s entire music industry. In reality, there are many different genres of music in Korea. Not all Korean artists sing catchy pop songs and display complex yet mesmerizing dance moves. Korea’s music scene consists of a much wider variety of genres, from indie to classical. Today, we will be focussing on my personal favourite– K-R&B.

K-R&B as a genre can be described as a mash-up of hip-hop, rap, soul and funk. It is more melodic than traditional hip-hop, but still has hip-hop’s signature edge. I personally find that K-R&B is more soulful than Western R&B, and is more melodic. Also, Korean artists’ voices are distinct from Western artists’. Many Koreans have lighter pitches due to their genetic make-up. This difference in voice contributes to K-R&B’s uniqueness. One major difference between K-R&B and K-Pop is that K-R&B mostly consists of underground artists that write and compose their own music. They often also do not have the support of big-name labels, which is one factor that explains their underratedness across the world. However, despite not being as well-known, many K-R&B artists are phenomenal. For those of you new to the scene, I have created a list of some K-R&B songs for you to try. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Jam & Butterfly- DPR LIVE, Crush, eaJ

Jam & Butterfly is one of the classics of K-R&B in my opinion. It has a unique blend of EDM and hip-hop, while still staying true to the soulful style of R&B. This song definitely gets you hyped, and is great for the summer. It also features eaJ, who may be better known as Jae Park of the Korean rock band DAY6. If you guys have read some of my previous blog posts, you know that I am a huge fan of DAY6. Jae’s unique high yet husky vocals do wonders to this song. If you like EDM, I recommend you check out this song.

We Don’t Talk Together- HEIZE, GIRIBOY

HEIZE is one of the female artists dominating the K-R&B scene. Her song, “We Don’t Talk Together”, is a creative blend of many sounds, which is very common in the K-R&B scene. The song has a distinct backtrack that sounds like Jazz meets EDM. It also features GIRIBOY, who is a phenomenal rapper. His part in the song brings a whole different side to it, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. If you want to hear an effortless blend of different sounds, this is the song for you.

Still- Loco, Crush

Loco and Crush are two of the biggest names in the K-R&B scene. This song combines two of the most talented artists’ voices. It is a very easy listen, a song that can be enjoyed by everyone. The vocals are smooth, but the melodic rap lines and backtrack give it a slight edge. This song is perfect for those venturing into the world of K-R&B, or even just R&B in general.

Nerdy Love- pH-1, Yerin Baek

pH-1 is one of my all-time favourite artists. His raps are so bouncy, and his 3-dimensional-sounding voice adds an extra oomph to all his songs. His duet with Yerin Baek is one of his most famous tracks, and understandably so. The song is upbeat and catchy, and I feel like I can see explosions of colour every time I listen to it. The lyrics are also very cute, which is not super common for many rappers. If you prefer more happy, upbeat songs, try “Nerdy Love” out.

When The Night Is Falling- Wonstein

“When The Night Is Falling” is the perfect song to listen to on a rainy evening. It’s mellow with a soft, melodic rap line. Wonstein’s twangy voice also balances out the softness of the song very well, giving it a bit more edge. If you recognize the name “Wonstein”, you may have heard of his song, “Your Existence”, which was part of the OST for the popular K-drama series “Twenty-Five Twenty-One”. I originally came across this song when I was street shopping in Korea, and have listened to it countless times since. This song never fails to remind me of Korea, as the lyrics mention some of Korea’s scenic areas, such as the Han river.

I hope by reading this, you got more familiar with the world of K-R&B. I encourage you to check some of these songs out, and I hope you love them as much as I do.

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