Big hip-hop feud suddenly raises profile of small scene

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Big hip-hop feud suddenly raises profile of small scene


Some of the rappers in the center of a suddenly high-profile series of feuds in the Korean hip-hop scene. From left, E-Sens, Gaeko, Swings and Simon D. E-Sens launched his criticisms with an angry rap, linked from his Twitter account late Thursday. [JoongAng Ilbo]

Korea’s hip-hop scene may not be as well known as K-pop, but over the weekend hip hop was totally in the music spotlight after a series of feuds and bad feelings spilled into the open, magnified by the lens of social media.

The brouhaha started Thursday with rapper E-Sens, former member of hip-hop duo Supreme Team, who released a song through his Twitter account criticizing his former label Amoeba Culture for dropping him last month. His rhymes also criticized his former label-mate Gaeko and the Korean hip-hop scene in general.

Titled “You Can’t Control Me,” E-Sens’s song complained that Korea’s hip-hop scene is full of rappers who are “stupid” and “cowardly” enough to be controlled by their management companies.

He also singled out Gaeko for the heaviest of his criticisms and dared him to answer his rap attack.

Gaeko responded quickly by releasing “I Can Control You” on Saturday, calling E-Sens a poseur and making a reference to his marijuana scandal.

Then Sunday, E-Sens struck back again with another track. Titled “True Story,” his second rap kept up the attack and promised that he would not back down.

“You can never control me, and you are a fraud,” E-Sens rapped, adding, “You don’t represent rappers; you represent the dirty music business.”

Even as E-Sens and Gaeko traded shots, other rappers jumped into the fray.

Swings arguably did the most by turning up the heat, launching a wild series of attacks (most unprintable in this newspaper) at a bunch of targets - although some said that Swings’ attacks were so over the top, he was likely mostly joking.

Then E-Sens’s former Supreme Team partner, Simon D, also responded by releasing “Control” on Saturday.

“Frankly speaking, I’m going to see some blood in this bleeding battle, but you are only [messing] with it,” rapped Simon D. “You don’t have the right to say ‘truth’ as you got the No. 1 rank only after using my name.”

And as the weekend went on, the circle of rappers weighing in on the situation continued to grow larger.

Rapper Tarae criticized the rappers who preceded him, complaining that they have been selfish and acted like they’re the only ones making “real” hip hop.

“I wanted to run like an 8-ton truck that has lost control, but I was only able to crawl along the ground,” Tarae said in his song “Don’t Fight,” which was also released on Twitter.

But not everyone was adding fuel to the fire.

Rapper Defconn, considered a major pioneer in Korea’s hip-hop scene, tried to act as a peace ambassador on Saturday by posting a photo of a basket full flowers he received.

Another rapper, Primary, also avoided descending into the mud, even though Swings called him out by name.

“Everyone encourages me to get into the fight, but I don’t have an opinion because I’ve never even talked with Swings,” Primary said.

Even if these feuds are causing a lot of bad blood in the hip-hop scene, some fans actually seem to be a little pleased with the mess - some because it is bringing long-standing problems with the scene to light, and others because it has raised the profile of Korean hip hop much higher than it usually is.

“Hip hop becomes really tasty when there is a battle,” said composer Kim Hyung-suk on his Twitter account. “Thanks to all the rappers for giving us some enjoyment.”

Singer and rapper Jay Park was even more enthusiastic.

“Yall see whats goin on with HIP HOP in KOREA right now [sic],” he wrote on his Twitter account. “I love it!”

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