Music is one of the most important things in this world because it’s universal. Therefore, the language barrier doesn’t exist to me when it comes to it. Vietnamese? Spanish? Swedish? Whatever makes sense to me melodically, it’s getting added into my library.
And with the popularity in mainstream K-pop on the rise, instead of contributing to that matter, I thought I’d steer towards something a little different—the non-mainstream Korean artists. I’ve been listening to Korean music for a while and have discovered so many dope artists that I wish more people would know about. Today, I thought I’d do a good deed and share my knowledge of good music with you guys.
Below is my top seven not-so-mainstream South Korean artists you should let into your lives.
DEAN is an alternative R&B singer-songwriter, rapper, and record producer. Every project he releases has its own flavor—he’s very experimental with his sound, but it’s not noticeable, as in DEAN’s projects are so effortlessly crafted that it seems as though every sound he tries, that that has been his sound. With that being said, you can find a vast array of unique tunes within his discography that will suit whatever your given mood is.
I was immediately drawn to DEAN within the first three seconds into his song “Pour Up” back in 2016. It has this R&B type of beat that most of us Westerners are familiar with, so I was already hooked and then the moment his voice came in was also the moment I solidified my spot as a DEAN fan.
What makes DEAN special isn’t just his undoubtable capabilities, but also his fearlessness—this attribute allows him to create a distinction between him and the rest of the crowd. And not to mention, this man is handsome as hell…but that’s besides the point.
If you’re a fan of Bryson Tiller, Majid Jordan, or Gallant, then you’d definitely want to check DEAN out. His music is raw, and is for the rebels.
Top songs from DEAN:
“Bonnie & Clyde”
“D (Half Mean) ft. Gecko”
“Dayfly (ft. Sulli, Rad Museum)”
“Pour Up (ft. Zico)”
I found HEIZE through DEAN when they released their song “And July.” I really liked her delicate voice and funky style so I decided to check out her discography and was not disappointed. The overall tone of her music is soulful with a touch of retro, and the melodies hit your ears ever so lightly and pleasantly.
She is a singer, rapper, songwriter and composer that debuted in 2014. Her sound falls under the categories contemporary R&B, neo-soul, and hip-hop. Her voice can be described as flimsy, yet sturdily controlled. She’s very comparable to Jhene Aiko in both singing and rapping styles. So if you’re a fan of Jhene, you have to listen to HEIZE. Plus, she’s so darn cute and her music videos are always interesting to watch.
Top songs from HEIZE:
“Jenga (ft. Gaeko)”
“You, Clouds, Rain (ft. Shin Yong Jae)”
“So, it ends? (ft. Colde)”
“And July (ft. DEAN, DJ Friz)”
This dude is incredible. His talent is undeniable. His music always puts me in a good mood, anytime and anywhere. He’s a rapper and is part of a multi-genre music and video group called Dream Perfect Regime, often shortened to DPR—hence his name, DPR Live. I first fell in love with his music after watching the “God Bless” music video in 2016. In addition to his flawless flow deliverance, the music video was beautifully shot and edited, thanks to the director and chief editor of Dream Perfect Regime, Christian Yu.
His music, for the most part, dominates the hip-hop category, and although I’m more of an R&B person, I’m not mad—quality music is quality music. I promise, his music will always get you bobbing your head no matter what setting you’re in.
Top songs from DPR Live:
“Please (ft. Kim Hyo Eun, G2, Dumbfoundead)”
“Know Me (ft. DEAN)”
“God Bless (ft. Punchnello)”
This one is for the hipsters. OffonOff is a duo that consists of members 0Channel and Colde. I discovered them through their collaboration with DEAN (DEAN introduced me to a lot of artists and for that I owe him my life) called “gold”, a super chill rap song supplemented by DEAN’s vocals. Of course, I had to do some digging after that song, and I learned that their sound is everything I look and yearn for in music.
If parked-car-conversation is a genre, this would fall right under it. Or if you want a perfect playlist for a late night cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway, just play their whole discography. Their consistency in producing good music is impressive and I’m so grateful for them. Both their voices are equally soft and velvety, adding an airy component that only enhances the quality of their raps and vocals. These two together are magic.
Top songs from offonoff:
“gold (ft. DEAN)”
This one is for the kids that come to class with only a pencil and a notebook that are into pen tapping. Just kidding. Kid Milli is part of the Korean underground rap/hip-hop scene. I don’t know much about him but his music is cool as hell. His flow is neat, elegant, and unique—he knows what he’s doing. His music ranges from chill to hardcore rap that makes you want to act a bit ignorant.
If you’re into that Soundcloud rap kind of sound, Kid Milli could be your new favorite.
Top songs from Kid Milli:
“Birthday (ft. OLNL)”
“Izakaya” (ft. Jvcki Wai)
“WHY DO FUCKBOIS HANG OUT ON THE NET”
“HON MO NO (ft. Black Nut)”
I discovered Jeebanoff about a year ago through his single “Timid.” Right off the bat I knew I was going to be a fan, there was something special about him. His sound is distinctive—it’s different, and that’s what reels you in because you feel the need to hear more of him, to know more about him. Once you delve a bit deeper into his music, you’ll realize his music offers you something you never knew you needed. It’s a sound that you’ve been aimlessly yearning for and you’ve finally found it, that kind of sweet and comforting feeling. He has the kind of voice that would accompany you well on a lazy afternoon.
Top songs from Jeebanoff:
“Timid (ft. CHANGMO)”
A SUPER UNDERRATED ARTIST. A singer, rapper, and songwriter. He has such a unique voice that I thought it was modified for the longest, but then I realized that’s just his voice…his normal voice, once you hear it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve heard him hitting the highest of high notes as well as extending far down into the bass voice level. Imagine the highest tidal wave forming and crashing—that’s what OLNL can do with his voice. His lustrous voice seemingly embracing every beat which is what makes his music so fun. It’s a groovy experience with every song, really. So far, I haven’t come across one bad song from him, and he kills all of his features. OLNL is a gem.
Top songs from OLNL:
“Fake Emotions (ft. GIRIBOY)”
This concludes my list of non-mainstream South Korean artists you should listen to. Let us know on Twitter @geekgalsco who you like the best!
Read more of Jordyn’s articles here.
Featured image credit: Wikia