Every day until the end of February, we’ll highlight one of our favorite Korean rappers on a countdown to #1.
Clocking in at a difficult-to-decide #27 is…
JR has gone through a wild shift in style over the years.
He has a pretty unique speaking voice and I don’t think he knew what to do with it at first–when he rapped, no matter how expressive he was, it just sounded like a strained version of the voice he’d use to order his iced Americano.
If you pair their (lovably questionable) debut song, FACE, with, say, his verse in NU’EST W’s Deja Vu, you’ll see what I mean.
Over the years, his voice seriously matured as he came into his own style.
Now he’s got a smooth, sultry tone, one which never lost its one-of-a-kind texture that makes it distinctly his. For what he adds to every single NU’EST/NU’EST W track, he made our list of favs this month
Before I give my thoughts below, check out this solo performance of his track, “With,” and see what I mean about his tone and delivery.
This performance is chill-inducing.
Here are some thoughts on his…:
Style: Sparing any industry specific terms for the sake of both you and I, reader, JR has what I call a conversational flow: he’s telling us a story first and foremost.
He’s not diving into the deep end of technical skill–such as speed–but instead focuses on conveying emotion and adding richness to NU’EST’s already famously moody tracks.
Sometimes, I think idol rappers stretch themselves too far trying to show off technical skill (which tbh may or may not even be there sometimes…) that they forego all of the artistry that hip hop is.
JR doesn’t. Not at all. He knows what he can do, and he uses it well.
I respect that.
Lyrics: Going off of his solo work, he writes tends to be super introspective and poignant. It seems like when he takes off the headset, halts the choreography and picks up a hand mic, he uses that time to shine a light on his inner workings in a thoughtful way.
With that unique quality to his voice, he’s able to deliver his thoughts passionately in a way that somehow has you understanding their meaning even if you don’t speak a syllable of Korean.
Production: NU’EST has some of the best production around in my opinion when it comes to idol groups (talk to BG and she’ll tell you for hours how much she loves what they do with Ren’s voice). Through it, they are able to use the texture and timbre of JR’s voice in a way that feels smooth, complete and totally satisfying.
Below, you can take a listen to JR’s solos as well as a few NU’EST/NUEST W songs featuring my fav JR verses. Remember to check back tomorrow to see which of our faves come in at #26!
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