From Missy to Kanye, K-pop explodes with genre-crossing new-world attitude
East met West at last weekend’s KCON event in LA when Missy Elliott performed on stage with K-pop superstar G-Dragon for the debut of their hip-hop stompin' collab, “Niliria.” In order to officially christen the K-pop genre as an infectiously global phenomenon—rather than mere Western imitation—the following are our top 10 picks of the most astonishingly successful crossover collaborations to date.
G-Dragon & Missy Elliott
Proof that South Korea's musical export of K-pop is still going strong, the 2nd Annual K-pop Conference KCON, hosted by Psy himself, featured a crowd-roaring smash performance from G-Dragon (part of the boy group Big Bang) and none other than world-famous rapper Missy Elliott in “Nilliria.” Funnily enough, one wonders just how much of the tween crowd knew of the nineties hip-hop star before?
JYJ & Kanye West
Never heard of boy band JYJ? Their popularity in Korea landed them in Guinness in 2008 and 2009 for the world's largest official fanclub and for being the most photographed celebrities on the planet. Boasting vocals and production by Kanye West, the members of JYJ defied gravity in a surreal, deteriorating city for the lead single "Ayy Girl" of their first English-only album. Atlantic Records actually had to halt all pre-orders for the limited luxury edition of The Beginning album due to over-demand. Prepare to witness JYJ set a whole bunch of other Guinness records in the near future.
2NE1 & Will.i.am
Without any push into the U.S., the group caught the eye of Will.i.am, who signed on to work on their American debut rumored to be released later this year. Listeners can get a sample of what a Will.i.am/2NE1 production sounds like with the track "Take On The World," currently being used for a promotional video for Intel. The foursome’s fierce fashion even caught the eye of designer Jeremy Scott, who styled the pop sensations.
T-ara N4 & Chris Brown
The girl group gave K-Pop its first Britney 'Head Shaving Moment' in July, when rapper Hwayoung threatened to throw herself to the ground screaming during a paparazzi gauntlet. In May 2013 T-ara opened for Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa’s concerts in Las Vegas. Surprisingly enough, despite fans’s universal outrage over Chris Brown’s rather rude interruption (0:40) in order to promote himself, that hasn’t stopped the two from collaborating on a remix of T-ara N4’s single, "Countryside Life."
Se7en & Lil Kim
Combining the smooth bravado of Timberlake and pouty lips of Bieber in his "Girls" video, it seems totally natural that the crooning of the ridiculously good-looking South Korean singer Se7en (Choi Dong-wook) could snag an older, stylish Lil Kim fresh off a motorcycle, and make her his “club n' champagne” groupie, instead of the other way around.
Wonder Girls & School Gyrls
The five-member Wonder Girls stands as one of the few Korean acts to have a single chart on the Billboard Hot 100 with English-language single "Nobody." With this dubstep-inspired single "The DJ Is Mine" featuring School Gyrls, watch out for the priceless club dancedown (from 2:40) and flirty pinky-promise scene afterwards. Who did you think was going to get the DJ? Please.
4Minute & Amerie
Bringing the attitude, if this supersexy, spectacular fusion of African-American-R&B-meets-pure-Kpop isn’t the clearest proof of girl power and multicultural unilateralism, I don’t know what is. Deliciously interwoven and integral to Amerie’s performance, the 4minute ladies—rather than merely providing background support and vocals—are an authentic creative force in their own right.
Jay Park & Teddy Riley
This rare clip from PMG Asia (Ruk, Teddy Riley, Dom, Miko, Tnyse, J Hot) reveals the behind-the-scenes rehearsal and recording of Jay Park's "Demon,” produced by Michael Jackson's record producer himself, Teddy Riley. (Is it just me, or does Jay Park sound uncannily like Michael J too?) Since linking with Teddy Riley, Park has completed tracks with Snoop Dogg, Daz, T-Pain, Krayzie Bone and others. Additionally, the American-born B-boy has been tapped to star in Hype Nation, a flick about breakdancers from the East and the West.
BigBang & Pixie Lott
Who knew Pixie Lott was a K-pop ambassador? G-Dragon and T.O.P. from K-pop quintet BigBang are featured on the British singer’s single "Dancing On My Own.” Though the dance and hip-hop elements of K-pop are what she fell for initially (if not the best blonde fringe seen on an Asian kid since Daul Kim), the collaboration is more of an R&B ballad, with G-Dragon and T.O.P. handling rapping duties. “They have a great dance vibe, but I think it was cool for us to do something a little bit different,” commented Lott. “I think it shows their fans something different as well.”
Tasha Reid & Smokey Robotic
Married to Tiger JK, Korean-American megastar rapper Tasha Reid (aka Yoon Mirae) stars in this futurist Kill Bill-inspired version of “Get It In.” In cahoots with Smokey Robotic—the “Superfuture” singer-songwriter and production group—not only does Tasha look way more credible than Uma Thurman wielding a samurai sword, look for the light saber transformation at the end. Total badass.