It would be easy to dismiss South Korea as the land of K-Pop and nothing more. But if you dig deeper in search of something a little more provocative, you’ll find yourself faced with a breadth of Korean rappers making some seriously great work that’s worthy of your attention. And because I love a good subgenre as well as an artist with a great fashion sense, here is the list of, in my opinion, top notch Korean rappers with the brazen talent and style to boot.
G-Dragon has a special place in my K-heart and that's why he scores the first place in this list. G-Dragon made his mainstream debut with the music group Big Bang after having spent six years prior as a trainee under the group’s record label, YG Entertainment. Though initially he wanted to be a singer, he took up rapping after discovering Wu Tang Clan. When it comes to style, G-Dragon has always been highly experimental, consistently being described as the “most fashionable” member of Big Bang. In 2015, Business of Fashion voted him among its 500 Global Fashion Leaders.
No matter what certain netizens say, CL (née Lee Chae-rin) was, is and forever will be the queen of K-Pop. CL’s first introduction to the adoring masses came courtesy of the above mentioned G-Dragon and his band, Big Bang. CL was featured on an intro for the group in 2007 before going on to be placed as lead rapper in the girl group 2NE1 (hey Peter). CL was always incredibly stylish and if you haven't seen the campaigns she did with Moschino or Alexander Wang, please do yourself a favour and start googling. You can spot CL in anything from varsity jackets to high-couture gowns; the common factor is that everything has an ultra-sexy street edge.
Dok2 doesn't need a special intro. You probably heard of Dok2 before either through Illionaire label, which he co-founded, or maybe you came across a blog post I wrote about him last year or you probably made it to his Vancouver concert. A long time student of rap music, Dok2 has collaborated with everyone from Drunken Tiger, Bobby, G-Dragon and more. His personal flow seems to favor Southern rap and his fashion sense isn’t far behind. You’ll find him in snapbacks, hoodies and jerseys, complete with chains, rings and more.
The leader of one of South Korea’s most prominent boy bands, Block B, rapper and producer in one Zico first delved into hip-hop during his early teenage years, promoting South Korea’s underground rap scene under the name “Nacseo.” After joining Block B in 2011, Zico would go on to achieve massive mainstream success thanks to his demanding stage presence, crossover writing skills and bubbly personality.
Splitting time between the band and his own solo work, Zico is also a distinguished fashion week fixture thanks to his bold, urban-influenced style and gender-bending, slightly effeminate flare – something that fuses his underground reputation with his commercial boy band appeal.
When this YG Entertainment signee isn’t exchanging lyrical barbs with fellow emcee Rap Monster, he is one of the members of the idol group iKON. In 2016, Bobby formed a sub-unit with Mino under the name MOBB. Bobby is best known for finishing in first place on Mnet's Show Me The Money 3.
Style-wise, Bobby has proven to be a bit of a chameleon, boasting a look that ranges from positively schoolboy-esque to a dapper GQ suiting.