Image via YouTube/Dream Perfect Regime
Yeah yeah, K-pop is a major flex around the world, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on the brilliant musical wave that is Korean RnB, or K-RnB to shorten it. Mixing a mix of hip-hop, rap, indie music and soul, this genre has been growing for many years, and although it has yet to emulate the success of K-pop globally , it’s always worth checking out some of the fantastic artists under the RnB umbrella.
With their fresh sounds and growing popularity, here are 10 K-RnB artists you should listen to.
Kwon Hyuk, popularly known by his stage name, DEAN, is a singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer. DEAN had started his musical career by joining a crew at 16, and within two years he was already writing songs for some of K-pop’s biggest stars. He made his US debut in 2015 with the collaboration single “I’m Not Sorry” with Eric Bellinger. Later that year, he made his debut in South Korea with the single “Pour Up” with ZICO. DEAN was dubbed the “RnB Prince of Asia” and reached No. 3 on Billboard’s World Albums chart with his EP. 130 Mood: TRBL.
Shin Hyo Seob, whose stage name is Crush, is a widely known singer-songwriter and producer in the Korean RnB and hip-hop scene. He started making music when he was in middle school and frequently sent demos to the Amoeba Culture label. In 2013, he signed under the label and officially made his debut the following year with the single “Sometimes”. Later that year, he released his debut album, crush for you. He remained with Amoeba Culture until 2019 when he signed with entertainment agency P Nation. Crush is also part of the hip-hop team Fanxy Child alongside other stars ZICO, Penomeco, DEAN and Millic.
Christian Yu, also known as DPR Ian, is a singer-songwriter, rapper, and director. He moved to South Korea from Sydney, Australia to pursue a dancing career. He was then street cast by an entertainment agency and debuted as a member of K-pop boy group, C-Clown. Sadly, C-Clown disbanded in 2015, but that didn’t stop Ian. He chose to join his friends: LIVE, REM and CREAM, to found the record label Dream Perfect Regime (DPR). He made his solo debut in 2020 with the single “So Beautiful” and later released an EP titled Moodswings in this order (trouble). He recently released his first full album, Custom Moodswings July 29, 2022.
Offonoff is a duo that made their unofficial debut in 2015 with the single “Bambada”. When the duo signed under a company the following year, they made their official debut with the single “Bath”. The members are: Colde, who is the singer, and 0Channel, the producer and DJ. Colde has worked with various successful K-pop artists including: BTS’s RM, EXO’s Baekhyun, and soloist Heize. The duo’s contemporary RnB music style sent their album, Boyat #27 on the Circle Album chart.
Jang Da Hye, popularly known by the stage name Heize, is a singer-songwriter, rapper, composer and producer. She made her debut in 2014 with the eponymous EP Heizeand continued to participate in the competition show rapstar not pretty in 2015. In 2019, Heize released their first full album, She is finewhich was ranked as one of Billboard’s Top 25 K-pop albums that year.
Lee Hai, whose stage name is Lee Hi, is a singer-songwriter who rose to fame with the single “1,2,3,4.” She participated in the reality competition, K-pop star, and comes second. She then signed under YG Entertainment and made her official debut with her first full album. First love, which took place in two parts. Lee Hi’s debut single won her Rookie of the Year at the 2012 Golden Disc Awards. In 2019, she terminated her contract with YG and joined AOMG label.
Cho Seung Youn, professionally known as Woodz, is a singer-songwriter, rapper, dancer, and producer. In 2014, he debuted as a member of Chinese-Korean boy group UNIQ. He made his official solo debut two years later in 2016 as Luizy after appearing on the rap contest show, show me the money. Its debut single was titled “Recipe” and featured a collaboration with rapper Flow-Sik. In 2019, Woodz joined X1, a group formed by the show Produce X 101but the group failed to take off and disbanded in early 2020. He continued to pursue a solo career as Woodz and gained popularity.
Kim Hyun Jung, popularly known as Hoody, is a singer and songwriter currently signed to AOMG, making her the first female artist signed to the label. Hoody debuted in 2013 as a member of underground hip-hop crew, Amourette, and has collaborated with various artists, both Korean and international. Hoody released their first full album titled Departure in 2019.
Eric Nam is a singer-songwriter and TV star who debuted in 2013 with the EP Cloud 9, backed by lead single “Heaven’s Door”. The same year, he joined the TV show Arirang after school club as an MC. He is signed to CJ E&M and has released two full albums, four EPs and several singles. He has also participated in many TV shows and competitions as a host and contestant. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Eric was an honorary ambassador and was featured on NBC Primetime.
Kim Ji Hyun, professionally known as G.Soul or Golden, is a singer and songwriter who debuted in 2015 under JYP Entertainment with the EP Go home. Although he was trained by JYP Entertainment for 15 years before his debut, he did not renew his contract. Instead, he signed under H1GHER Music in 2017. He has collaborated with several artists including Jay Park, Big Naughty, and pH-1. Her popular single “You” peaked at number nine on the Circle Music Charts.