In many ways, 2018’s Af was the true kick-start of what would evidently be a successful career for Woo Won-Jae. Sure, there were songs like the magnetically fast-paced chart-topper “We Are,” and the introspective double-single Anxiety, but it wasn’t until the 23-year-old tried his hand at a long-form extended play that audiences got a true taste of what the young rapper was all about. Thus, when the unabating pensiveness of his prior releases was allowed to combine with a more fluid, coherent structure and larger-scale ideas, it was only natural that fans started to flock to the man who was, at the time, AOMG’s youngest signee.
Last year saw Zico go introspective. His genre-bending Thinking LP, an amalgamation of two stellar extended plays which showed the artist at his most vulnerable, was firmly rooted in both obvious, and subtle, self-reflection. Shifting from mid-tempo acoustics (“Balloon”), to striking piano melodies (“The language of flowers”), all the way to abrasive, cocky trap-infused hip-hop (“another level”), the 27-year-old offered a masterclass in musicality throughout the album’s 36-minute runtime, triumphing in his attempts to show a fresher, more self-effacing side to himself. Despite its minimal mainstream popularity, Thinking undoubtedly cemented Zico’s long-term sustainability as part of Korea’s musical backbone, and further proved that he was more than just a surface-level hit-maker.
Over the last few years, Zhang Yixing has undeniably became a worldwide star. During his time away from the South-Korean group EXO - an outfit which he is still a part of - the Chinese singer, model, dancer and producer has been building a small empire for himself, establishing a tangible brand whilst consistently putting out engaging content. From musical collaborations with the likes of Steve Aoki and Alan Walker to Calvin Klein sponsorships, Lay is everywhere. It’s now up to the world to take notice.
Day6 have been one of the most consistent bands of the last few years. Now on their fifth Korean release since 2018’s Shoot Me: Youth Part 1, the quintet have always found innovative ways to keep their releases musically fresh and exciting, exploring anything from ‘80s tinged synth-pop to soaring pop-punk.
FR:EDEN is an artist who undoubtedly has potential. Still very much in his artistic infancy, the singer has managed to show off rapid improvement throughout each of his releases and, although he mightn’t believe it himself, has created an idiosyncratic style of blending distortion, emotion and melody together to form songs that never fail to be defined as memorable.
Just two weeks ago, oceanfromtheblue released take off. A departure from his usual, often love song-leaning stylings, this six-track offering documents the 28-year-old’s depression in a candid, no-punches-pulled manner. Centred around bidding farewell to his dark, melancholy mindset and welcoming in a more mature, positive version of himself, the EP sees the R&B artist weaves his powerful vocals alongside emotional sonics and unwavering melodies.