Duh-ruhnken Tiger

A while back I made a post about what Korean punk music I was listening too, and now it’s time to appreciate another genre: Korean hip hop.


This is Drunken Tiger.

Not only does he have an awesome band name and killer abs, but he’s also a bit of a badass. According to wikipedia, Drunken Tiger’s Korean debut in 1998 was controversial due to its sexy and anti-establishment lyrics. In 2000, he was under criminal investigation for drugs which led to being banned from public performances for 2 years.

But many of his current songs aren’t very controversial at all.

From “Monster”:

Crazy jiujitsu but a hapkido flow
You only throwin hands playin kai-bai-bo

Hapkido (합기도): a traditional Korean martial art that uses weapons like swords and short sticks.
kai-bai-bo: Korean for rock-paper-scissors, ridiculously popular with people of all ages to settle any manner of disputes. Rapping about rock-paper-scissors may seem strange, but anyone who has lived in Korea can tell you it really is that popular over here.

Many of his lyrics are about Korean culture:

Make hits, brung jewels that style perfects
Great swift like the Hangul alphabet
The chosen career, call me king Sejong

Sejong the Great: founder of hangul (the Korean alphabet) and one of the country’s most respected historical figures.

These excerpts are from the English version of “Monster.” Drunken Tiger grew up in Korea and LA and can rap in two languages. I can’t even rap in one, so I find that quite impressive.

“Because I’m a man”

Anyone’s whose spent some time in Korea would appreciate these lyrics:

some squid, red pepper paste, and
11 and 1/2 shots of alcohol
take away the pain
Some hot kimchi soup calms me down from a tough day

Talks about taking shots of soju (one shot (one shot)) and erasing all previous troubles in a friendship, no more betrayal

Kimchi and soju and red pepper paste and squid? All of the finest of Korean cuisine together like that almost seems like a cliche, and I’m not really sure if it’s celebrating the culture or poking fun at it. Although the “one shot! one shot!” mention seems to signal towards the latter. (For those not in the know and can’t figure it out, “one shot” would be shooting or chugging your drink, and is a common repetition among groups of drinking Koreans.) But whatever the intent, I can appreciate his lyrics because they remind me of all my good times English teaching in Korea.

Drunken Tiger

He’s got an English language site, check it out!

EPIK HIGH – Wannabe

EPIK High is my other favorite Korean hip hop group. Their song “Wannabe” criticizes the conformity among KPop bands and their listeners, and the video references the famous Korean horror movie The Host – both things I can appreciate.

The Host

They’ve apparently been on hiatus since 2009 when DJ Tukutz had to serve his mandatory military service. Another member, Mithra Jin, is also in the military until 2012. That compulsory military service can really get in the way of your plans, Rain would know.

If you’d like to see the conclusion of the drama from that first video, just watch this video for the song “Trot + high technology:”

Trot (pronounced “tuh-rot-tuh”) is the oldest form of Korean pop music, developed around WWII (wikipedia). It is traditionally sung by a woman in a sparkly dress and appreciated by ajummas at small festivals and on TV.

The lyric translation I found over here reminds me of many of my visits to noraebangs, with older people who always tend to bust out a super emotional pop number. I can only assume what they’re singing about reflects this sentiment:

my life crying with one glass of alcohol and smiling with one tune
my trot
no matter how much they look down at you or look straight at you
they’re all the same when they’re drunk waves in the stomach
every time they stir riding the glass
legs and arms swaggering holding onto the mic
ddan ddaraddaraddaddadada to the trot rhythm

now – chachacha row that boat jjakjjakjjak
as if you’re wearing sparkly clothes lalala
the intonation is shaky just like my lifestyle

my image reflected in the soju glass is pitiful and bleak
who’ll understand my heart
sing it out loud the life getting soaked in the booze

By the way, this is trot:


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kiwigirl
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 16:20:38

    Hi Annie
    Great blog, I’ve been looking at the korean punk bands since I got here last year, I have not been to any shows but I’ve been listening online a bit. There is some good stuff out there. I’ve also been doing a Music Monday post on my blog where I showcase either a song I like or one I’ve found that I feel the need to share 🙂 had to show some Big Bang as the kids I teach are mad on it. Anyway if you get a chance come and visit me at http://kiwigirlinsuwon.blogspot.com and say hello 🙂


  2. Juls
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 04:45:47

    I haven’t watched the Host yet but I am so looking forward to it.


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