Monday, August 26, 2013

[Editorial] 'Control' Korean hip hop - wrap up of the recent controversy

With Swings pulling out of the diss battle with the release of 'New World' and there being no response from Amoeba Culture + Gaeko other than "respecting their artists' decisions," could this finally be the end of the big brawl? 

Everyone may be calling out Swings as the "bad guy who started it all," "a coward for backing out," or just some vulgar rapper who can't say personal things to someone in person but I personally respect Swings for what he did in the past few days. Sure, the angry cussing may have been something additional that wasn't quite necessary but for the most part, I think he did what needed to be done, intentional of his track becoming this controversial or not.

And the reason why I believe that this was needed was because Korean hip hop was in a state of withdrawal for quite a long time. Kind of like what Dead'P had mentioned in his track, the underground scene was moving up into mainstream and in order to do that, rappers had to change what they delivered to not just underground fans but the general public as well, so why not go down the safe route in selling yourself out with love songs? 

Although I don't believe that Swings' 'King Swings' represented this idea better than Dead'P did with his track since he mostly talked about how great he is (I mean, he did title it 'King Swings' after all), it at least opened up a can of worms for artists who were pursuing the exact said reason above in responding with harder, "real" tracks.

A lot of people seem to be blinded by the idea that 'King Swings' is a diss track. It's not. Sure, he called out a couple of people and crews but that's normal in any track in the hip hop scene. Some artists even dedicate an entire track written ambiguously to call out someone. As mentioned in his press release when he released the track, Swings mentioned that 'King Swings' was a "motivation" earned from the controversial verse from Kendrick Lamar in his featuring for Big Sean's 'Control.' And though people aren't buying it that Swings was straying away from the message that Kendrick had originally delivered, Swings was not that much different from Kendrick in that they both talked about trying to become victorious of their respective rap scenes over others except Swings did it in a much more narcissistic way of course. 

Another reason why I believe Swings released it with a cause is because of the shade clouding up the industry. The entertainment industry in general is always hush hush, keeping an eye out for others in trying to cover themselves from being exposed. We all know that this industry, both underground and mainstream, is dirty as hell and everyone wants to maintain a clean image for the sake of the fans and the public but all Swings had to do was throw a bait into the waters and wait for the right people to bite onto it. Who was the big fish that Swings managed to reel in at the end? Simon D.

It may or may not have been intentional but he sure as hell is smarter than a Seoul University graduate if he managed to plan this whole heist to lure Simon D in through Ugly Duck, who had also replied to Swings with 'Ctrl + Alt + Del *2' and is a close junior of Simon D's. It seemed that Simon D was really the bigger fish that Swings was waiting on because if you compare his tracks 'Hwang Jung Min' and 'New World,' he grills Simon D alive, front and back with a whole set of accusations in his newest track, leaving no room for Simon D to run away from, whereas 'Hwang Jung Min' was just him labeling Simon D with any cuss word he could think of. It's like 'Hwang Jung Min' was purposely poorly written with curse words to hurt Simon D's pride and make his blood broil for him to fight back so that he can close it off by tarnishing Simon D's image with one go.

However with actions also come consequences and Swings had to face those consequences through Simon D's 'Control.' Simon D did raise a few good points in his response track in mentioning Swings' lack of management as CEO of Just Music Entertainment when he had "signed" Jtong a.k.a "locked him up with no contract but assigned him a manager." Seeing how Jtong wasn't really going anywhere under Swings' care, this is also why Simon D decided to "steal" him according to Swings by introducing Jtong to Amoeba Culture around this time last year. Jtong never signed an official contract with the company however, as it remained strictly a business relationship. Amoeba Culture funded Jtong's album 'Mohican and the Barefoot' and Jtong was to pay the loan he had used for production and promotions. Going back on tangent, although Jtong and Swings didn't necessarily have a great relationship, it seemed the two had already worked things out since Swings gave Jtong a shoutout in 'Hwang Jung Min' and Jtong had tweeted, "Dumbass Swings piggy hyung ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋyou're cool like you were in 2008ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ."

Also, Simon D made it clear that he was bffs with E-Sens, not Swings. It was a somewhat relevant point to bring up since E-Sens had also made it clear on Twitter that he wasn't siding with anyone and respected both sides so Swings trying to steal E-Sens away was a childish 3rd grade move.

Photo of Illest Konfusion + friends

Brushing aside the consequences, Swings geared up his last response with 'New World.' He went straight to the points in his argument by putting Simon D's accusation to rest on his relationship with Jtong in bringing up that two had drinks with E-Sens a few days ago. Not only that but Swings pretty much punched Simon D in the gut by raising the question that everyone has been wondering about, why E-Sens decided to leave Illest Konfusion (crew led by Simon D) at the same time when E-Sens' contract with Amoeba Culture was terminated. The question goes back to E-Sens' relationship with Simon D, if something did really happen between the two and the result of it was E-Sens leaving everything (Amoeba Culture, Supreme Team, and Illest Konfusion) for the sake of avoiding being involved with Simon D any further.

Speaking of E-Sens, he was pretty much the protagonist of this whole controversy. After the termination of his contract with Amoeba Culture, E-Sens has been lingering around Twitter for the most part, talking about how he can't seem to understand how to use Facebook and for fans to wait since he had something "big" in store for them. After Swings had released 'King Swings' with a string of other rappers such as TakeOne and Ugly Duck following suit afterwards, E-Sens saw the opportunity and took it. If he had released this separately on its own, I don't think he'd receive as much publicity as he did today nor would I think Gaeko would have responded. 

In both tracks 'You Can't Control Me' and 'True Story,' E-Sens pretty much slammed both Amoeba Culture and Dynamic Duo publicly for the reasons of being businessmen and not artists, requesting a million dollars from him, "slave contracts," being a sub for Dynamic Duo while they were enlisted in the military, and how Dynamic Duo are frauds in deceiving who they really are when on television. The tracks made rounds not just with fans of hip hop but with both Korean and international netizens as well. E-Sens' name was floating around the top 10 most searched names on the search engines for major news portal sites and from the comments of both Korean and international netizens, everyone's respect for E-Sens seemed to have grown and it was acknowledged almost everywhere that E-Sens had won this battle. 

The reason why most people handed the trophy to E-Sens was because Gaeko's track was lackluster and didn't provide any explanations for the accusations that E-Sens had made against him. While some people praised Gaeko for shaking away from his mainstream image to put out a response track, many were disappointed at how soft-serve it was and the punchlines of his verse were that he was E-Sens' senior and how E-Sens was a weedhead. 

With the issue garnering heavy interest from not just netizens but reporters as well, Dispatch released a compilation editorial this morning on the whole "diss" controversy and found proof to E-Sens' statement on how Dynamic Duo were businessmen.

"You yourselves know that you're all businessmen" - E-Sens' 'You Can't Control Me'

"Your fox-like glare. Just admit it. You're not a rapper so go and be your dirty entertainment CEO." - E-Sens' 'True Story' 

In Dispatch's editorial, they were able to find a list of registered staff members in Amoeba Culture and listed as internal directors of the company were the names Choi Jae Ho (real name of Choiza) and Kim Yoon Sung (real name of Gaeko). Of course it's expected that artists who have been with a company for a while take on positions such as directors (examples of this can be seen with YG & SE7EN, Kangta and SM) but the reason why this evidence plays a crucial factor for E-Sens' side is because it shows that Gaeko probably had the power and influence to have E-Sens kicked out from the company. 

With the hype slowly winding down and no response tracks from Simon D to Swings and Gaeko to E-Sens, we can assume that Swings' 'New World' may have been the grand finale and the closure needed for this issue. Again, we'll never know the answer to why E-Sens left Illest Konfusion and the truth behind the million dollar pay up that E-Sens mentioned till either side brings it up again. Everyone's names are finally off the top 10 searches and even the unknown rookies aren't riding off of the 'Control' hype anymore.

People who came across the issue could have thought of this issue as irrelevant and unnecessary while if you're like me, you could think that this breakthrough was a needed refresher for the Korean hip hop scene, highlighting a culture of hip hop to the public that many never knew of cared about. Like E-Sens had tweeted, diss tracks and beef with artists aren't necessarily the core of what makes hip hop but it's a part of it. It's another side to hip hop where you can be obnoxious with your profanity and grill someone publicly all the while being lyrical and eloquent with rhymes and punchlines.

A lot of hip hop fans worried that with the issue becoming so controversial, the general public may view hip hop under a bad light, even worse than what Korea already thinks and sees of it but it was the exact opposite. I'm sure the comments of netizens don't represent what everyone in Korea thinks as a whole and that the people who commented probably barely keep up with hip hop in the first place but if even they knew that there was something wrong with Dynamic Duo singing sappy love songs and seeing tracks like this was a refresher, then I believe that itself says something.

In the end, it's not about who won or who wrote their lyrics better but more so that through this issue, all of the rappers played a pivotal role in becoming a motivation for the current new and old artists out in the scene right now and also became the starting point for new fans who came across the issue to learn and explore Korean hip hop. All in all, even though it was a tiring 3 days of having to listen to the same beat 20 times, I give credit to all the artists and hope that Korea stops becoming an army of Kendrick Lamars in the making.


  1. Brilliant editorial, admin. Gosh, the way you write makes me melt inside. I'm so happy I found this website!!!

  2. Great thing I found this website through this. Seriously. :)
    Thanks for this editorial. Very well written!

    And yes.. I don't want to hear that beat any time soon again. ;A; It really started to annoy me.. I just read the lyrics at some point and stopped listening to it.. because it was really a bother.. ^^;

  3. the last paragraph is my favorite. "In the end, it's not about who won..." people are failing to take this into was never a battle to see who was better, it was merely an opportunity for some rappers to rip a page out of their diaries and make it public.

  4. thank you for this excellent write up ;) i know it was hard, i was away for the weekend with limited wifi but saw few tweets about control. so last night i spent like hours listening to Control's beats over and over again >_>

    i had no idea AC were this shady and gaeko ._. i kinda maybe just lost my respect for him? but, as a musician i like his songs and style but after this...not so much.

    idk how this will affect the future of khhp for the mentioned rappers. lol ok gtg have a good day yall

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  6. How could I miss this article?! (slap self). As much as I dislike Swings, I also thank him for opening this rap battle. Whatever intention behind, at least k-hiphop got public recognition for these past few days. Even my friends who was basically not interested on k-hiphop finally opened up their minds and started listening to some hiphop music.
    And props to you Uncharted Sound. Thank you so much for being with us and kindly accepting our request through this hiphop battle. *kiss