2 Hip Hop Stars Alike, but Not Really

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2 Hip Hop Stars Alike, but Not Really

PSY, a new face on the Korean pop music scene, wants to make sure that you refer to him as a hip hop entertainer. After releasing his first album, "PSY From Psycho World," with the hit single "Bird" ("Sae"), PSY became the talk of the town. "Bird" was sampled from the song "Venus," by the popular western group Bananarama. Enriched with a beautiful melody, the song is noteworthy for PSY's deft Korean rapping.

PSY is receiving a considerable amount of public attention these days in comparison to CHO PD, another popular and more-established Korean hip hop musician. CHO PD, who recently returned to his college studies in the United States, is well-known for defiant songs that criticize the absurdities of Korean society. PSY and CHO PD have much in common. Both attend the Berklee College of Music in the United States. The two often collaborate as well. They participated as rappers and chorus vocalists on singer Lee Jung-hyun's first album. More important, both artists are endowed with great musical talent - they both performed on, wrote and produced their albums. In the world of hip hop, PSY, the relative newcomer, stands as a good match for CHO PD.

But in many ways, PSY diverges from CHO PD. Though both sing about society's ills and contradictions, the expression of their message contrasts. While CHO PD appeals to his fans with songs formed out of a radical and serious intent, PSY's main goal is to have fun. PSY exclaims, "Hey, don't get too serious, let's have some fun!"

Armed with the motto "entertaining resistance, delightful criticism," PSY searches for amusing and playful ways to articulate his critical views.

Along with their expressive styles, the two musicians are distinct in their personal character as well. Unlike CHO PD, who shuns public appearances, PSY is open and buoyant, eager to bask in the spotlight.

Differences aside, when the two work together, opposing characteristics melt away to create a wonderful sound and harmony, as evidenced by their collaborative work on the song "I Love Sex" from PSY's debut album. In "I Love Sex," PSY and CHO PD taunt a hypocritical Korean society that is authoritative and repressive when it comes to sexuality, while harboring ignoble sexual desires at the same time.

PSY does not restrict his strong opinions to the sexually conservative climate of his native country. Reflecting on his educational experience in the United States, PSY said "After I graduated from high school, I went over to the United States to study at Boston University. My major? International management. I chose that major because obviously my parents would not let me go to the United States if I were to study music. But then, after one awfully boring year, I transferred to Berklee College of Music. Is Berklee helpful? It's useless. I had nothing to learn from them, all I did was practice alone and write songs. That's all."

This forthright and talented musician is certain of one thing - he wants to make daring music that gets people excited and makes their hair stand on end.

by Choe Jae-hee

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