Block B’s rapper Zico has had one of the more interesting careers for a mainstream K-Pop artist. He actually got his start in Korea’s underground rap world, becoming a respected rapper alongside several crews before his debut as an idol. Soulmate, his latest solo track, is a collaboration with IU (who we’ve covered in this column before), and it might surprise you to know this isn’t the first time they’ve sung together—Zico also featured in one of IU’s early, more obscure tracks, Marshmallow. They’ve both grown as artists in the interim—it’s almost weird to go back to some of IU’s older tracks, as they’re nearly a complete 180-degree shift from the kind of sophisticated, urban-chic music she’s producing these days. Zico has also had a successful solo career of his own, branching out beyond just being yet another idol rapper by building a solid foundation of releases, producing credits and collabs. The short … [Read more...] about K-Pop Pick Of The Day: Soulmate
We celebrate the 50th birthday of Our Lady Helen Hunt — or, as my mom knows her, "Is that Jodie Foster? Where are my glasses?" — by paying tribute to her greatest role, tornado-hunter Jo in the pretty fucking godawful Twister. Here is her most dramatic scene opposite Bill Paxton, who does not have his "cool guy" Titanic earring in but is wearing it in spirit. Anyway, have a nice Saturday night! Drink your Zico and respect your elders. Yours forever, Anna B. … [Read more...] about Saturday Night Social: You’re Living In The Past, Jo!
This past weekend marked the third annual KCON New York, the East Coast branch of the world’s biggest convention dedicated to Korean pop culture. Every year, fans across the US make their pilgrimage to KCON (whether in Los Angeles, New York, or, as of this year, Mexico City) where they can unabashedly geek out over Korean culture and, most importantly, see their favorite K-pop acts perform in person. It’s a very joyous occasion where a group of people, many of whom are young women, with a very niche interest can enjoy all the aspects of Korean culture they enjoy and of course see their “biases”—that is, their preferred K-pop stars. But on Saturday morning, fans came together for a panel called “Cross Cultural Clashes in Hallyu” (“Hallyu” refers to the Korean pop culture wave) that addressed something a bit more serious: the problematic racial politics of K-pop. The issue has created a lot of emotional labor for American fans, … [Read more...] about The Eternal Struggle of Being a K-Pop Stan of Color
Yesterday, a couple of travel-blogging bros uploaded a music video for a song they wrote while enjoying their stay in North Korea. The song manages to celebrate the notoriously oppressive country in pursuit of “positivity,” which of course comes at the discarding of the not so positive truth that North Korea has some of the worst human rights abuses today. Well, this got me thinking that this is probably the perfect time to talk about the actual Korean music that’s taking over the world. And seeing as North Korean jams like “We Shall Hold Bayonets More Firmly” and “The Joy of Bumper Harvest Overflows Amidst the Song of Mechanisation” aren’t exactly dominating the airwaves, that leaves us with the popular music from South Korea, or K-pop. So here’s a carefully curated list of some of the hottest tracks from the K-pop industry this summer. Get ready for plenty of trap-inspired beats, some heavy electronic synth, and overall … [Read more...] about Your ultimate K-pop summer jam playlist
For anyone who follows the tech sector, it isn’t news that black entrepreneurs struggle to attract investors to their ventures. In 2010 a CB Insights study found that less than 1 percent of venture-capital-backed business founders were black, and access to capital for black tech entrepreneurs hasn’t improved much in recent years. That struggle is one of many that Ali Abdullah, CEO of Claim It! Inc., has faced during his young life. Before launching an iPhone app that allows users to win freebies after watching a 15-second video ad, the 29-year-old former Google senior product manager weathered difficult teen years in New York City, as well as a brief period of homelessness back in 2008—never mind an environment that makes it especially tough for a black person to get startup funding for a tech venture. His approach to getting over those hurdles? “Smile, and get s—t done,” Abdullah said recently (with a smile, of course), in an interview with The … [Read more...] about This Tech Entrepreneur’s Got Game