Every day until the end of February, we’ll highlight one of our favorite Korean rappers on a countdown to #1.
Coming in at #7 is…
When I started to crave more of the hiphop elements of kpop and began to branch out, I first got my K-hiphop toes wet with Epik High. Even after bleeding their expansive discography dry, I wasn’t sated.
And frankly, I was concerned that whatever else I might find waiting for me out there would pale in comparison. Because, seriously, as I’ve already gushed about in my get to know Epik High write up, Epik High is nothing short of incredible.
So even with that with apprehension that I felt in beginning to explore Korean hiphop, I didn’t feel it for long.
That is to say, I found Hanhae, formerly of the hiphop trio, Phantom.
Immediately, he showed me that I had nothing to worry about at all and was instead about to step into a world of truly awesome hiphop.
Much like Epik High, he immediately ticked all of my boxes for good flow and delivery: he’s articulate, clear, punctuative, and expressive with the capability of getting speedy when it calls for it. But he doesn’t show off–he stays on beat and seems to prefer to play with syncopation than just running sprint drills with his tongue.
While he lacks some of the things that made me love Epik High so much–like the moody beats of Tukutz, the deep lyrics of Mithra Jin and the wordplay of Tablo–Hanhae immediately stood out as a classic example of what hip hop can be at its most stripped down form.
Technically my first exposure to him was in SHINee’s KEY’s solo track, Cold. Once I got into Hanhae and got used to his voice, I realized that I had heard it somewhere before and revisited KEY’s album in search of it.
Now, KEY’s music is as vibrant and as colorful as his personality, so for Hanhae to be able to fit into a song like his perfectly and then turn around and spit quick all over a trap beat in Domino (feat. Rudals) was pretty impressive to me.
Diving even further into Hanhae’s discography, I discovered tracks like the classic Sunday morning groovy sounds of I Go.
I found the dreamy sounds of his feature on Jane Jang’s Far Away 멀리서. I got to see his romantic side with eyes (feat. HANI of EXID) which to me reminiscent of early aughts American hip hop. He even sounds good over synths and drum machines as I heard in Clip Clop (feat. Dope’Doug).
What stood out to me about Hanhae was his incredible versatility. To be able to fit in with all of those wildly different styles and sound natural on each one is quite a feat.
For all that Hanhae brings to the world of Korean hip hop, whether he’s alone or spicing up someone else’s tracks, he has made it on our list of fav rappers this month.
Check out a few of my favorite Hanhae tracks and features below and then come back tomorrow to see who we set at number #6.
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