With how big of a name and influence Dynamicduo have in the Korean hip-hop scene, it can be hard to imagine a time where they weren’t on top of the world. Now, on their tenth album 2 Kids On The Block – Part 1, members Choiza and Gaeko, with production by hitmaker GRAY, take a look back at the times in their lives that made them the artists they are today.
Opening with “Intro (Narration by Lee Byung-hun),” the stage is set with a memory of the rappers leaving the study room after a long day, but with their conversation revolving around their shared love of music, time no longer seems to matter. The intro finishes with the lines “Our story is still running hot / Like that one late summer night in 1998.” It’s a short start to the album, but it captures the essence of what this release is all about, and doesn’t need anything else to get it’s message across clearly and succinctly.
The album’s second song “19” continues the trip down memory lane, expanding on the track established in “intro.” It’s a smooth and laidback track with lo-fi touches, reflecting the nostalgic mood of the song. Gaeko and Choiza go back in time to when their were each 19 years old, reflecting on their developing love of hip-hop, the beginnings of their music, and how they went against what society and family expected of them. A particularly striking element of Dynamicduo’s rapping is how clear and concise it is, while still conjuring vivid images in listeners’ minds. Listening to “19,” I’m instantly transported to those moments in time right alongside the two members, where they would be rapping at school talents shows, rather than dancing like everyone else was.
“All Day” expands further on the beginnings of the members’ music careers. It also continues the lo-fi energy of the last track, with a nice addition of winds bringing a jazz lounge vibe. Here, the members focus more on the day-to-day hustle they went through, still working their days jobs, being students, and dealing with the judgment of others for their choice in dream. There is a repeated line throughout the track, “When a ballad singer drives a Mercedes at the rodeo, We’re at the bottom , step by step.” This line expresses so clearly the view and attitude society had against “disruptive” art like hip-hop. To go with the flow, in this case being a “ballad singer,” is to be respectable and to be successful, whereas something newer like hip-hop, was frowned upon, as mentioned by Gaeko and Choiza throughout the first two songs. Again, this shows how well the two can get their message across in such a short moment in time.
Closing Part 1 off, we have the high-energy “Pied Pipers (feat. dj friz)” which evokes the sound of old-school hip-hop like Run-DMC. Now we jump forward in the timeline to where the duo are not just making it as rappers, but are trailblazers in the Korean hip-hop scene, playing with the Pied Piper reference. It’s a fun and boisterous celebration of what the group has accomplished, and after going through their journey to this point with earlier songs, it’s an incredibly satisfying ending.
2 Kids On The Block – Part 1 covers so much of Dynamicduo’s history as a group in such a short amount of time, yet it still has me hungry for more. From the solid production of the tracks, to the effortless flows of Gaeko and Choiza, and of course to the storytelling present in every moment, like in “Intro,” time isn’t a concept here. Even 10 albums into their careers, Gaeko and Choiza aren’t trying to run away from their past. In fact, they embrace it fully, and within them always carry those memories of a time where they were just 2 kids on the block.
Featured Image: Amoeba Culture