[HOT TRACK]MC Sniper taking aim at above-ground success

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[HOT TRACK]MC Sniper taking aim at above-ground success

The Korean hip-hop scene may be considered chic, but the bulk of the music leans more toward superficial imitation rather than to in-depth musical accomplishment. In response to the puddle-deep mainstream hip-hop, a thriving underground scene has taken off, offering variety, depth and some high-quality raps.

MC Sniper is one such hip-hop musician whose main sphere of activity is peripheral, firmly rooted in the liberal underground scene. Having made a reputation as a creative and conscientious artist with a showy stage style, MC Sniper is trying to make the crossover to the above-ground with his recent release of his debut album "So Sniper ... "

Eighteen ambitious tracks lead off the album, displaying why MC Sniper calls himself a "swordsman of language." With confidence he knows how to play with words while rhyming with flow.

He sings and raps about people with social stigmas -- prostitutes, sugar daddies and low-class laborers -- while spewing criticism against weak-kneed intellectuals and corrupt politicians.

Sniper likes to mix the unexpected with the typical hip-hop styling. An intro opens the album with a serene atmosphere, the well-orchestrated sound of classical string instruments. Then the bass drops and Sniper's voice jumps in with, "I Devote My Whole Self to Hip-hop." Unfortunately, this track, despite being the lead-off, is one of the weakest on the album with a distinct been-there-done-that feeling that will bore hip-hop enthusiasts.

But by on third track, Sniper begins to show his true colors -- playful and experimental. In "Yukdo Yunhoi," the song opens with the sound of Buddhist monks beating a wood block. Sniper ends the song overlapping his fast-and-furious rapping with the sound of a high-pitched soprano, creating an odd but original atmosphere.

"Jamaica Boy" follows. Sniper attacks sugar daddies and two-timing housewives, then suddenly shifts to a reggae style. "A Diary of a Gisaeng" is a painful cry about the desperate life of a prostitute.

Being full of fresh ideas, Sniper indeed has the potential to become a talented and exciting new face in the above-ground hip-hop scene. All he needs is time and the right break.

by Chun Su-jin

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