This Week in Kpop brings us a slew of new releases as we begin March. There's a lot more coming too, which is both thrilling and terrifying (on our wallets). For our cover story, we take a look at the dynamic complexity of Rap Monster and offer our own interpretation of his lyrics. We might be way off here and would love to read your own views here. But anyway, there's so much to tackle, so let's get started!
Rap Monster's "P.D.D" (with Warren G)
At Critical Kpop, we're all huge Rap Monster fans. That's why we made him a main character in our fan fiction epic, King & Queen, friends. And we haven't looked back. Did you even see the BTS comeback trailer that he unleashed on the world?
Rap Monster's voice is so distinct, his lyrics so fresh, his emotion so gut wrenching, that his rise to super-stardom is all but inevitable.
"Please Don't Die" almost sounds like a loving plea until we get "Before I shoot you," and "I should have my revenge." Rap Monster is playing with us and playing with Warren G, in this collaboration that finds him in America, wandering the streets in his shades. Though translation is surely not perfect, having the closed captions on is essential for viewing. Rap Monster is a Kpop poet, "I don't care that shit/go Twitter share that shit" as he tears down the haters with their hating. He even challenges the haters and keyboard warriors (ha!) to ride with him, again playing within the sometimes thin lines between affection and aggression. "Fire is also a flower." Which may be the best way to understand Rap Monster, who confronts love and hate as two interchangeable vehicles of destruction. Pain is the only inevitability.
We're not exactly sure what the collaboration with icon Warren G really means here, and how much of a hand he had in both this release and mentoring Rap Monster, especially with the inevitable language and cultural barriers. But Kpop artists pursuing American collaborations, at the very least, is a great turn at reaching out to western fans. We're excited to see what's in store for Rap Monster. All you haters can just ride with him.
Fiestar's "You're Pitiful"
Fiestar is back and is at the threat, once again, at being overlooked, with their very strong, "You're Pitiful." We're going to give their entire first mini-album, Black Label, a closer look next week, but we hope that you give this song a chance until then, friends. This is classic Kpop here. Cool, sexy, but also very sophisticated, with some great choreography as well (with chairs even!).
We wonder if Fiestar is another group that is on the verge. Like EXID waiting for their closeup, via fancam, no less. They certainly have the drive, the personality, the look, the talent, and, lately, the songs, and even though they've abandoned their optimistic roots that made them so charming to begin with, their sexy turn has been kept classy and adult. "You're Pitiful" isn't the second coming - probably won't be one of the best videos of the month. But it is pushing Fiestar to another level. Hopefully, Kpop fans will see that too.
We absolutely loved Super Junior's Mamacita album last year so were thrilled to see Donghae and Eunhyuk collaborating for "Growing Pains" in a super-dramatic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind riff. It's a killer track that doesn't really seem to be catching on for whatever reason, the views still south of 1,000,000 on official channels. Maybe their timing, much like Fiestar, is a bit off with this release and others will inevitably overshadow it. Which is a shame, since this is a great song and intriguing video and ELFs are some of the most loyal fans in Kpop and they're doing what they can to make this a hit. But if the excitement's not there, maybe it's just not there?
XIA's "Flower" (featuring Tablo)
Now here's how you do the post-apocalypse right. Visually stunning, dark, with a super dramatic song - this is a science fiction epic distilled in a five minute video. Though we have no idea what the hell's going on, we're loving this release and love it whenever Kpop embraces the strange and ridiculous. JYJ's Junsu (XIA) really brings in some much-needed theatrics. Some have been disappointed with the song and we wonder if we hadn't heard it first with the video our views would be different. But we love this release and we think you will too.
Shannon William's "Why Why"
A lot of releases this week embraced young, cutesy concepts, and new MBK star Shannon Williams starts us off with "Why Why," which finds the 16-year-old idol as schoolgirl and pining over her first love. Though a dramatic departure from her more serious debut song, "Daybreak Rain," we're loving her voice and charisma. Some have decried this release as falling into cliche, and they'd be right, but Shannon still shines brightly here, and the song is fun and catchy. Some of the dance moves, like that butt wiggle, are rather risque for a 16-year-old to perform (though some are saying she's 17, 18 in Korean years, but still). Watch and judge for yourself!
Lim Kim's "Are You a Grown Up?"
We love Lim Kim and Mystic89 but their latest effort with "Are You a Grown Up?" had us concerned at first. The video felt a bit haphazard and Lim Kim's "Everything's Alright" seemed like it was fading. What's worse, we already had a song from Kim Kim about growing older with "Goodbye 20," which we felt was easily her least impressive release (sorry). But fear not, all is not lost. This video made to promote Childfund Korea, so shouldn't be considered in comparison with other major releases. Lim Kim is not turning towards aegyo. Mystic89 is not falling into cliche. At least we can hope this video isn't foreshadowing their future projects.
Embracing their Jpop roots, Lovelyz came back this week with "Hi," and gave us another cute video that, depending on your own biases, will either make you smile or hurl. We're somewhere in the middle, especially since "Hi" turns out to be a pretty good song here. Definitely worth a look and listen!
MV of the Month: 4Minute, "Crazy"
This shouldn't be a surprise here: 4Minute has our MV of the Month for February. Read why we think this angry video for "Crazy" has dominated the month right here.
Opening the Discussion about Suicide and Kpop
We said last week that we wanted to continue the conversation over suicide, and staff writer 'L' brings us our first part in a series examining suicide and depression in Kpop. Let's open the topic up. You can read that here.
A Brief History of Slut Shaming for the Modern Kpop Fan
If you're going to be slut shaming Kpop idols anyway, you should really be looking at the classical origins of this act. Take a look at some history here, friends.
The Entourage of Goo Hara: A Look at the Seventh Episode of "Hara On & Off"
This week we took a look at the strange episode seven of Hara On & Off. We were disappointed by the episode, but we wonder: Is it because we've been spoiled by the rest of the series? Read our analysis here.
King and Queen: Episode 9
Our fan fiction epic continues! Rumors spread, the lockdown crumbles, and a new mission is born! Check out the latest episode here!
March 1-7, 2015
And that was This Week in Kpop! This week was loaded with news and releases. Next week will surely match this flood. We're excited for what's upcoming. But until then, have fun and be safe!