The key to survival is innovative change.
by Soy Kim
In America, there exists both a written and oral history of the roots of hip-hop – where it started, how it started, and who was at that fateful party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. The origins of American hip-hop are deeply rooted in sociopolitical inequality and the necessity for change. Hip-hop was propelled by a movement greater than itself, before it grew to become one of modern day’s most visible – and contested – social movements.
Globalization is often credited for the arrival of hip-hop in Korea. In a short time, Korean artists have devoted themselves to developing hip-hop on their home turf, crafting uniquely Korean rhymes and pioneering a new cultural scene. Despite the recent mainstream fixation on hip-hop and the mainstream media’s thirst to capitalize on a noise-making genre, some artists remain ever committed to legitimizing hip-hop as more than just a genre or fad. It is both a lifestyle and a unique medium of relaying messages that challenge Korea’s normalization of strict social codes.
In this documentary interview, we sit down with an artist who helped build today’s hip-hop scene as part of the ‘1.5 generation’ of Korean hip-hop: Swings. The 1.5 generation represents a wave of artists who invested everything they had, devoting their lives to develop a new culture and performing underground shows at a time when artists lacking label representation faced numerous roadblocks.
Now, nearly ten years into his career, Swings reflects on who he was, the thoughts that have shaped him, and who he is becoming. He shares:
“Being evil is evil. It’s so easy to be an asshole but being good, you need to make the choice. It’s fighting temptation… I’d never been responsible, only inspirational. I was always spontaneous and creative, but I decided to become responsible.”
Swings is back. Check out the documentary interview to hear his story.
[THE CUT Exclusive]
Roles in this project: project manager, screenwriter and interviewer, story development, label relations