• Mary Kim

THE TOP 10 KOREAN HIP HOP SONGS OF ALL TIME

ISSA BOUT TO GO DOWN |

Hip Hop has come a long way in Korea. From a spirited response to Ice Cube's Black Korea, a song aimed at Korean Immigrants in Los Angeles, to a half Filipino half Korean musical prodigy, Korean hip hop has evolved from 'HongDae' novelty to carving out its' own identity amongst KPOP giants. Though not perfect, here is a list of the 10 Greatest Korean Rap Songs of all time.




10. LeeSsang - Rush (2002)

Before Gary was on 'Running Man' and before Gil was on 'Infinite Challenge', the duo made up one of the most influential hip hop groups in Korean hip hop history. The song features the beautiful voice of Jungin, and sampling off 'The Stylistics'. Take a listen and see why we feel this song is the perfect way to start any list.



9. Crown J ft. Young Dro - I'm Good (2011)

Definitely the most controversial on this list, but this song GOES SOOOO HARRRDDD. Crown J from 'We Got Married" was on top of the world when he left Korea for Atlanta to try and make it. Word is he was close to signing with 'Grand Hustle', 'T.I.'s label. And in a world before BTS, that was the closest Koreans ever got to being 'put on'. ANDDD I love Young Dro so much, Polo and everything. ANDDD this song got on World Star so there's that too. Crown J didn't get ANY love from the Korean Hip Hop community when he was active, his popularity came from 'We got married' and was seen as a commercial act, Korea just wasn't on it like that and Korea still to this day like rap beats similar to their kpop beats, really really fast (see below). But we see you Crown J and we will give you your flowers.



8.DeepFlow, Nuksal, Huckleberry P - Jakdu (작두) (Sword dance) (2015)


Known as Nuksal's 'Magnus Opus' this song is actually Deepflow's his label VMC's CEO. There is no hip hop fan in Korea that does not know this song. Consisting of traditional Korean instruments, and probably the greatest 16 bars in Korean rap history from Nuksal, there is NO other song that bangs harder LIVE. The headbanger makes the list easily. Don't trust me? Watch below.


7. YG Family - Hip Hop Gentleman (2001)

1TYM and Jinusean lead YG Family was just as dominant in the early 2000's as they are now. New York born and bred Teddy who, in my opinion, is the greatest Korean Musician of all time produced this banger. 1TYM and YG was always controversial in Korean hip hop, as it is today, due to being a Kpop label that made BLACK MUSIC better than the underground hip hop artists and TEDDY had EVERYTHING to do with that. Although now he works with more pop centric artists, TEDDY like hip hop, has roots in New York.



6. DPR, Sik-K, Owen Ovadoz, Punchnello, Flowsik - Eung Freestyle (응) (2016)

Known as 'That Youtube Song', 'Eung Freestyle' was an international viral sensation thanks to Youtube using the song as BGM for its' ads. But that isn't to take away anything from the songs' own merits. The song features the leaders of the new school DPR LIVE of DPR, Owen Ovadoz of MkitRain, Sik-K of H1ghermusic, Punchnello, and Flowsik.



5. ILLIONAIRE (Dok2, The Quiett, Beenzino, Mc Meta) - YGGR (2014)

The song that officially brought Hip Hop in Korea to a new era. Korean hip hop in the 2000's mainly consisted of resampling well known soul music ie See example 4. Also hip hop in Korea for the most part rapped about being broke all the time and was known as struggle music. Then 'Illionaire' came along, hemmed by decorated rapper 'Dok2','Beenzino', and 'The Quiet'. The sound was incredibly flashy with production for the first time was on par with hip hop from the west. YGGR was the sign of the times and what a time it was to be alive.



4. CB MASS - 휘파람 (Whistle) (2001)

CB MASS's 'Whistle' was such a revelation when I first heard it. Sampling 'The Spinners- I'll be Around', the song exudes 'good vibes' and is soul food for any Korean hip hop head. What happened to CB Mass is tragic, made up of Geek and Choiza (Dynamic Duo) and Curbin, it is well noted the group broke up when Curbin stole the groups' album advance and gifted Hyori a Mercedes Benz. But at least they have this classic!



3. Nafla - Wu (2015)

Reppin Pasadena and NaSung City, 'Wu' samples Wu-tangs 'Cream' and Nafla's bar would make RZA proud. Nafla was not known but this song blew up, a label signed him off this song alone and the rest is history.



2.C JAMM - 신기루 (Illusion) (2015)

If this was a list about greatest diss songs, this song would be #1. Known as the song that ended Epik High's illustrious career, this song destroyed half the rappers in the industry. An Atomic Bomb of a song, it was aimed at Epik High and other rap giants that were judges on 'Show Me The Money' in 2015 for playing politics with major Kpop labels and for cutting deals behind the show to favor contestants from their labels. The song 'Illusion' is in reference to 'real Emcees' he thought he would meet once entering the scene but found out no one was real. This song was so controversial and ended so many careers that in 2018 he publicly announced he would stop performing the song live. You can see why below



  1. Drunken Tiger- The Movement & Umalis Bar (2000)

From the 'Great Rebirth' album that introduced us to great songs "The Great Rebirth", "I Want You", and "모래시개 (hour glass), 'The Movement' is our greatest Korean Rap song of all time. The song that made 'The Movement' crew, consisting of Drunken Tiger, Tasha (Her verse on 1:30 may be the greatest verse ever and in 2000!), Epik High, CB Mass (Dynamic Duo), Eun Ji Won & DOK2 (Yes, he was like 11) official. 'The Movement' was seen by hip hop heads in Korea as the Avengers to YG's (1TYM. Jinusean, Masta Wu, Perry, Lexy) Thanos. The greatest song in what is one of the greatest rap albums (regardless of race) of all time.



Honorable Mentions:


DJ DOC - Run to you


Digity - Friend


Sik-K - Party


DPR Live - Martini Blue