This is the question on everyone’s mind leading in to this vigorous schedule YG has set for the long-awaited iKON: this fan-favorite team, the underdogs everyone has been rooting for since they lost ‘Who Is Next?‘ two years ago, will they deliver?
In the genre we’ve been told iKON will be part of, we’ve seen Monsta X blow us away with their debut ‘Trespass‘ and their follow-up ‘Rush‘; Hotshot knocked it out of the park with ‘Watch Out‘; BTS who could be argued is the reason this style is gaining in popularity, continues to exceed expectations with their releases; and even iKON’s sort of label-mate UNIQ came hard with ‘EOEO‘. Expectations in this high talent, high energy arena are incredibly high for anyone let alone for iKON who’ve been hyped by YG for two years. To hear Bobby, YG-stans and iKON-stans talk, we should be graced with the best thing to happen to hip-hop since sliced bread or coffee in your house; something that hits hard, blows your hip-hop loving brains out, that redefines the Korean hip-hop scene. If you’ve not seen it, watch it now.
The song we got was none of those things. What we got instead was the typical, the cutesy, the soft sounding, the “girl you’re so pretty” song that we expect from mainstream idol boy-bands who have a “rapper”. And that was not worth waiting two years for, I can hear that every week from people who do it better than iKON could ever hope to.
Now that I’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, let’s get real, what the hell is happening? I’ve heard Bobby rap, I’ve heard B.I. rap, iKON is full of talent. They’ve got talented rappers, good dancers, good stage presence, people like them. Why do this? I can understand not giving everything you have to a debut since people will only expect you to improve and if you’re already at the upper limit of your abilities, where do you go? (This happens to a lot of rookie groups but we’re not here to talk about them, are we?) This feels like such a slap in the face, not only to the fans, but to the guys themselves. Particularly those of them who have made headlines with their opinions of themselves in relation to ‘idol rappers’.
There’s a theory floating around the staff here, that doesn’t hinge solely on YG being the hugest troll in the history of trolls. This is a warmup, nothing more. For those that play sports, think about what you do for warm ups. For those of us that don’t I’ll let you know: you do simple, basic, repetitive stuff that will get you ready for the actual game, where you’ll use all of your skills. We can hope against hope that’s what’s happening here; they’re doing something simple, easy, KPop 101 if you will, before they hit the rap game hard. That in and of itself is insulting but, in the interest of keeping it real, it fits the group much better than this.