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EXCLUSIVE: Hip hop getting more popular in Korea – San E

San E (Photo courtesy of Brand New Music)

San E (Photo courtesy of Brand New Music)

Korean hip hop artist and rapper San E said hip hop music has made more headway in South Korea compared to a few years ago when pop and dance dominated the scene.

“About two three years ago, I was hearing a lot of pop and dance music, but now I hear a lot of hip hop and rap,” the award-winning artist told Bulletin Entertainment.

“K hip hop” has been tagged by the Korea Foundation as one of the emerging trends contributing to the continued rise of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave.

San E agreed, noting how TV shows like the rap contest “Show Me The Money,” where he was a judge last year, also contributed to making hip hop popular.

“When ‘Show Me The Money’ did not yet exist, it was same. But now (the) mainstream hip hop scene is much bigger,” said the singer, who also hosted the TV show “Unpretty Rapstar” last year that featured female rappers.

San E, now under Brand New Music agency, is one of the successful Korean hip hop artists in the mainstream music industry.
Last month, he bagged the Best Rap/Hip hop Award for “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” album at the 30th Golden Disk Awards, and Best R&B/Ballad award at the 25th Seoul Music Awards.

He was born in South Korea but studied graphic design at the University of Georgia in the US.

His love of music, however, cannot be denied.

“When I was growing up in the States, I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop/rap music. And I really thought that I could be the one (to do it and break out in the mainstream). And guess what? Now I’m living in my dream world,” he said.

San E said his favorite foreign artists are Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Future, and he listens to music that’s “anything hot and that inspires me.” He gets his ideas from movies and books and expounding on them himself.

Part of the hip hop and rap culture are the so-called diss tracks, songs primarily meant to disparage someone. San E doesn’t see anything wrong with them, noting, “If you are a rapper and you feel like you need to diss someone, go ahead, but it better be good! I have dissed couple of big artists in the beginning of my career.”

His advice to young, promising would-be artists is to be “more real to themselves and hone their skills.”

This year, San E wants to expand his audience reach by travelling the world to meet fans and sing for them.