After the huge rise of rapper competition TV shows, the public’s interest in hip-hop grew and grew. The teens’ love for the genre exploded after a show called High School Rapper (HSR)! In the already well-founded survival show Show Me The Money (SMTM), there wasn't as much space for the younger contestants to prove their talents. Hence, the new TV show that called for all high-schooler rappers was essentially an SMTM teen ver. that the younger generation could enjoy between themselves. So, who are the cool kids in the K-hip-hop scene right now? Let me list out the hottest Gen Z rappers out there.
HAON is THE rapper who began the HSR boom, the one who ripped the stage apart from his first appearance in season 2. In his first self-introduction, the 17-year-old HAON talks about “travelling to find the truth of life,” and his hobby being meditation. A little laughed at by the fellow contestants, he changes their minds about him with a mind-blowing cypher that goes down in the HSR history (link). He didn’t lie when his hobby was to meditate, because his lyrics are always the most poetic and are full of philosophic ideas. If you’re interested, watch his HSR Season 2 rap compilation (link) or his Killing Verse Live vid (link)! My personal fav track of his? Hands down FLOWER, a message to all those coming of age!
LEE YOUNG JI (2002)
Instagram | @youngji_02
Lee Young-ji is another HSR star, probably one of the biggest celebrities born from the show! Between the kids in flashy “hipster” clothes trying to look cool, Young-ji stood out in her well-worn school uniform. When other kids jokingly tell her tight school ties are not the “hip-hop spirit” she laughs saying she’ll need to re-study hip-hop. Clearly, she proves that she’s already in the top class with her first cypher (link). Fans love her low-pitched strong voice that really hits you in the ears. Day & Night (MV link) is one of my top Lee Young-ji listens, where she had her biggest celeb crush, Jay Park featuring in it. And this is her being just the cutest shy cinnamon roll next to Jay Park during the MV shoot (link) 😂
Marie Claire Korea
Here’s a star who laid his presence on BOTH of the biggest hip-hop shows in the country. SOKODOMO first introduced himself in HSR Season 3, and his character was truly one of a kind. With his goggle-like sunglasses, propeller cap and outstanding rapping, he grabbed everyone’s attention (link). His rap style is very unique, free, and weirdly satisfying 🙃 Recently, he starred in SMTM10, even reaching up to the semi-finals. His SMTM song, MERRY-GO-ROUND, has been on top of the music charts for weeks!! He called himself an ‘alien’ for his uniqueness, but now people call the uniqueness his “mad talent” and call him a “genius”.
Now, this is the most confusingly admirable rapper out there. Layone, starred in SMTM Season 9, and so many questions arose about his talents as a sophisticated artist. Layone is a rapper that focuses mostly on catchy rhymes, the rhythm, and the overall flow of the song. Because of this, his lyrics hardly make any sense and are merely just a collection of meaningless words - the reason why he's called both a gimmick rapper and a god of rhythm. I’m just amused that he can memorise all those random lyrics for performances 😂 All aside, his tracks are such a feel-good listen! But if one says he doesn’t know how to write proper lyrics, I say go watch Layone’s iii performance (link). Also, the mysterious love line between Lee Young-ji and Layone is THE juice of the hip-hop scene 💘 Story goes, Young-ji had a crush on Layone but got rejected 🥺 They opened this up to the fans (link) and ended up making a song about it, ‘Freesia’. IDK ABOUT YOU, BUT I SENSE SOMETHING BETWEEN THEM (MV link).
Marie Claire Korea
There are so many more Gen Z rappers that I want to recommend! But if I can only talk about ONE more rapper that’s trending in 2022, it would have to be BE’O. BE’O made his appearance on SMTM10, and his short 60sec rap Counting Stars (link) was a sensational hit. His melodic raps allow us to listen more carefully to his unique and sweet voice, which is what the fans are obsessed about. Along with SOKODOMO’s MERRY-GO-ROUND, BE’O’s Limousine from SMTM10 lived at the top of music charts for weeks and weeks! I’ve personally been putting BE’O’s Bipolar on repeat recently - both tracks are worth a thousand listens, and there’s even a collab track with Layone (MV link)!