Sneak Peek: Korean hip hop record labels HIGHGRND, MKIT Rain, The Black Label and Ambition Musik.
In 2016 Korean hip hop hit the mainstream after season five of Show Me The Money took South Korea by storm.
For the first time, Korean rappers and Korean hip hop singles dominated airwaves, broadcasts and charts alike.
Talented rookie rappers were scouted and scooped up by the veteran rappers of well-established Korean hip hop record labels like Fheel Good Music, and the Korean hip hop industry boomed like never before.
In the aftermath of Show Me The Money 5, Korean rappers were seen on South Korea’s most popular TV shows and in South Korea’s most popping clubs.
Korean rappers gave Korean pop idols, South Korea’s most sought-after stars a hard run for their money.
Korean hip hop also gave EDM (Electronic Dance Music), South Korea’s most generic genre of club music, a hard run for its money.
It wasn’t long before Korean hip hop venues from clubs to bars to lounges popped up all over Seoul, South Korea seemingly overnight. They even popped up in cities like Busan and Daegu.
Korean rappers headlined festival after festival for both music and fashion while holding countless group and solo concerts.
It comes as no surprise that three brand new Korean hip hop record labels emerged in what was definitely one of the Korean hip hop scene’s busiest years.
The Korean Hip Hop Scene
The Korean hip hop scene has two main ingredients that make it what it is: The Korean hip hop industry and the Korean hip hop community.
The Korean Hip Hop Industry
- Korean hip hop record labels
- South Korean entertainment companies
- South Korean broadcasting systems
The Korean Hip Hop Community
- Korean hip hop artists and Korean hip hop record labels
- Hip hop venues in Korea such as clubs, bars and lounges
- National and international Korean hip hop fans
More importantly, in 2016 the Korean hip hop scene, with its growing number of Korean hip hop record labels, continued to spread beyond South Korea, inspiring and influencing both national and international communities.
Korean Hip Hop Record Labels: The Veterans
- Amoeba Culture
- Hi-Lite Records
- Illionaire Records
- Brand New Music
- AOMG (Above Ordinary Music Group, or Always On My Grind)
- Feel Ghood Music
- Just Music Entertainment
- Vismajor Company
Korean Hip Hop Record Labels: The Rookies
- MKIT Rain
- The Black Label
1. HIGHGRND (Est. 2015)
- Code Kunst
HIGHGRND: 2016 In Review
After appearing on season four of Show Me The Money in 2015, Incredivle signed to HIGHGRND in 2016.
He featured on Lee Hi’s album Seoulite, performed at Club Lucidream and made appearances at several popular Korean hip hop clubs, bars and lounges such as The Henz Club.
Punchnello signed to HIGHGRND in 2016 as well. He dropped a mini album with three singles, Lime, and released a single, “Worth It” featuring Hoody.
Live, Sik-K, Punchnello, Owen Ovadoz and Flowsik all featured on “Eungfreestyle”, the viral hit that swept America and YouTube away with its freestyle bars placed perfectly on top of a fire beat.
Like Cha Cha Malone, a producer at AOMG, Code Kunst is a producer at HIGHGRND. In 2015 he released “Parachute” featuring Oh Hyuk and Dok2, and in 2016 he released “Beside Me” featuring BeWhy, YDG and Suran.
2. MKIT Rain (Est. 2016)
- Owen Ovadoz
- Young West
MKIT Rain: 2016 In Review
Loopy released two singles, “Go Yard” and “Rrrr.” He performed at hot Korean hip hop clubs, bars and lounges from The Henz Club to Hidden Lounge to Monkey Museum, which is owned by Seungri of Big Bang.
He also performed at Hiphopplaya Festival with his label mates. They were the opening act for the festival’s first day.
Nafla dropped an EP, New Blood, and released several singles including “Dopeboy” and “Mercy” featuring AP.
He also performed solo at Rapbeat Show and Secret Society 051, Busan’s hottest hip hop club owned by Bill Stax (formerly known as Vasco) of Just Music.
Owen Ovadoz dropped an album, P.O.E.M., and released a single, “City.” He ended 2016 by performing in China with his label mates.
Bloo dropped a mixtape, Tony, which is available for download here, while Young West released several singles.
3. The Black Label (Est. 2016)
- Zion. T
The Black Label: 2016 In Review
Zion. T appeared as a judge on SMTM 5 alongside Kush. They produced two top-charting singles, “Knock” and “Machine Gun” featuring Mino.
After leaving Amoeba Culture and signing to The Black Label in 2016, Zion. T had a quiet year. Rumor has it he’s contacting top producers and preparing to drop his first album since Red Light, which was dropped in 2013.
4. Ambition Musik (Est. 2016)
- Hash Swan
- Kim Hyoeun
Ambition Musik: 2016 In Review
Hash Swan, who received rap lessons from Bill Stax (formerly known as Vasco) when he was 18 years old, dropped a whopping six singles in 2016.
He shot to fame after appearing on SMTM 5. Despite an early elimination, he lasted long enough to beat Junoflo and catch Illionaire’s eye.
After signing to Illionaire’s new label, he appeared on season two of Mic Swagger where he showed off his coveted rap skills. He also performed at Hidden Lounge.
Changmo, who is famous for his piano playing skills and his rapping skills, released several singles, dropped a mixtape, MOTOWN, and dropped an EP, Time To Earn Money 2.
He also performed at one of Hongdae’s hottest hip hop clubs, The Henz Club, and appeared on Mic Swagger 2.
After an early elimination from SMTM 5, Kim Hyoeun signed to his team Illionaire’s new label, performed with Illionaire on tour and dropped his highly anticipated EP, My Ambition.