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10 South Korean Albums for Non K-Pop Fans

The year is 2020 and Korean Pop music, also known as Idol Music or K-Pop, has swept the world by force. Although this genre of music is great to listen to, its not the only genre of music SK has. Just like the rest of the world, SK has amazing vocalist and rappers in HipHop, Pop, R&B, Rock and every other genre known to man. I started listening to K-Pop in 2012 and eventually drifted off into other genres. For the past decade, I've found that South Korea is an amazing place for music. Getting someone who isn't versed in K-Pop or doesn't listen to music in other languages is hard. So my job is to ease people into this brand new world. Here are 10 albums that you need to listen to regardless of the language barrier. 

1. The Quiett - Q Train

In 2006, producer The Quiett dropped on of the best albums not only that year, but of the decade, and it is a certified classic album. With clear influences of J Dilla and Nujabes, The Q was able to create his own path in SK music while paying homage to his predecessors. Coupled with soulful beats are an array of the best rappers and singers of that generation. The album makes for a great, chill vibe that is missed all around the world. Despite the lyrics being in Korean, one can enjoy the passion etched into the the production.


2. Crush - Crush On You

Crush is an R&B/Pop artist that dropped his debut album "Crush On You" in 2014. From an objective and subjective point, this is one of the best R&B albums to come from SK. Crush's sweet yet strong voice is apparent on each track. Funk is alive and well on some of these tracks that also feature other dope rappers and singers in the game. The album is a great introduction into what SK has to offer with their singers.


3. Jay Park - Everything You Wanted

Former Idol Star Jay Park was kicked out of his group. This did not deter him as he continued his journey of music. after 5 years of being a solo artist, Jay Park became one of the most influential artist in SK and is one of the driving forces in bridging American fans with SK music. His 4th studio album "Everything You Wanted" was a great example of this as it had songs in English and Korean. The album delivers sultry R&B joints such as "Replay" and "I Don't Disappoint", HipHop bangers like "Only One" and tearful ballads in "The Truth Is". This is an album that should be on everyone's spin list.


4. Tasha/Yoon Mirae - Gemini

Half Black and Korean, Yoon Mirae debuted in in the late 90's apart of the duo Tashannie. In 2002 she dropped her second solo album "Gemini". This was a big ordeal as Tasha had been know as a beautiful singer. "Gemini" was a HipHop album in which Tasha laid nothing but ferocious raps down over dope beats. To this day not only is this album a classic, but she cemented herself as one of the best female rappers and rappers in general in SK. With this album, Tasha ditched the love ballads for tunes about poverty, feminism and so on. This wasn't just a "I can rap too" statement but a conscious one as well. 

5. Offonoff - boy

The duo of producer 0channel and singer Colde debuted in 2016. In 2017 they dropped their first LP titled "boy". "Boy" was a big thing as it was the catchiest, most organic, and melodic project dropped that year. With features from big names in the scene, the duo crafted an album that is a mood board for this generation. Love, loss, emptiness and every emotion that could define this generation made its way onto this album. Regardless of the language barrier, one could listen to this album and understand exactly what the duo is saying.


6. Mayson The Soul/Car The Garden - Photographer 

Formerly known as Mayson the Soul and now Car The Garden released his debut album "Photographer" in 2015. It was the first non Pop, HipHop, or R&B album I had listened to. It was so smooth yet had songs with a bit of roughness to it. If you're looking for a sweet, melodic soft Rock album to listen to, this is for you. The album is filled with beautiful guitar riffs and features from rappers putting in work. 

7. Beenzino - 24:26

In 2012 rapper Beenzino released his anticipated EP "24:26". The 9 track album went on to be one of the best released that year. With features from label mates The Quiett and Dok2 the album is full of flashy HipHop tracks with tons of bass while also having more jazzier numbers that anyone can relate to. 


8. Primary Skool - Step Under The Metro

In the early 2000's producer Primary created a band of some of the best musicians. He then enlisted some of the best singers and rapper at the time to create one of the most underrated yet classic albums I've ever heard. Now as an American who doesn't speak Korean and has never been to Korea, I can't fully assume the album is underrated or not well known. But I will say that it isn't talked about enough compared to other albums released at that time. Nevertheless, this album is amazing simply because it is a hot pot of R&B, Jazz, HipHop and funk. It has something for everyone and more. Its also one of those albums you have to listen to in order to truly feel. Its one of my favorite albums ever released.

9. Shirosky - La Lecture

Producer released her album "La Lecture" in 2015 which would go on to shape my entire year. I even got a poem published from listening to "Tie-Dye" and writing my feelings down. The album is so chill. Its almost hard to believe that a women from SK could have so much soul, reminiscent of 90's HipHop. If you're a fan of J Dilla and Nujabes, this album is for you. 

10. HA:TFELT - 1719

Former member of the iconic idol group Wonder Girls, HA:TFELT released her debut album this year. "1719" is a personal love letter to herself. It encapsulates all of her flaws, failures, success and personal life. Its also the only Pop album on this list. I chose it because Korean Pop music is different from the Idol/K-Pop that you may have come across on Twitter. Not to say that K-Pop isn't real music but actual SK Pop is more that just lolipop teenyboppers. "1719" is a great album that shows that all us are human, we go through things, and we can overcome it.


Garser Dismuke is a writer for as well as

He releases his vast knowledge of Anime, Wrestling, K-pop and Poetry on the daily

Check out my new book “181820” on Amazon

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