Guide for the Perplexed: The Baddest Female Seoul City Ever Had: The Rise of Korean Rappers

Here in the U.S., it seems like there can only be one highly successful female rapper at a time — now Nicki Minaj (and hence the “Eve wants Lil Kim to settle her beef with Nicki”). But in Korea, mostly as part of pop groups, but also as individual artists, there are several popular female MCs.

For example, CL from 2ne1 (rapping above — self-proclaimed “baddest female”), HyunA from 4Minute (formerly from Wonder Girls), Yubin from Wonder Girls, Miryo from Brown Eyed Girls, and Amber from f(x) all are known as rappers within their girl groups. In addition, Tasha (AKA T, Yoon MiRae) has been a very successful rap solo artist. And as shown in the video below from an awards show, including a performance of Tasha’s Pay Day, they can share the stage.

And what is the reason for the lack of Highlander-ish “there can only be one” female rapper at the top of her game in Korea? Perhaps a large thanks goes to the highly manufactured aspect of most Korean pop. Because groups are put together by labels, usually after years of training, as long as having rappers in groups sells, then they will continue to be added to groups. And considering present Korean pop music seems to be very international pop with a light R&B twist plus rap, this likely won’t change.

But it is also because their styles vary — ranging from the gritty underground sound of Tasha, to the very pop-friendly raps from Yubin and HyunA, to the barely recognizable as rap from …, well, I’m just not going to name them. Another major influence is the U.S., where many Korean musical artists have lived for a while, and brought back these influences.

So if you haven’t already started listening to Kpop and Korean rap, you should consider it.

In this post, I’ve decided to mostly include live performance videos to show this isn’t studio-crafted perfection — these are all excellent live performers.


I Read A Book: Kembrew McLeod and Peter DiCola’s Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling

Kembrew McLeod & PeterDiCola’s recent book, Creative License: The Law and Culture of Digital Sampling is a truly excellent overview of the complicated aspects of sampling.

They manage to meld together discussions from multiple perspectives — from cultural, technological, musical, legal, and economic perspectives — in a highly readable format. There are few books (if any) that I would equally recommend to law students, musicians, artists, writers, and grad students to understand an issue, and while there are likely not many that will read this book cover-to-cover, these are some of the highlights:

  • the historical and musical history of sampling;
  • the legal issues of sampling, including detailed discussions of Bridgeport;
  • the sampling marketplace;
  • the viewpoints of artists — both those that sample and those that have been sampled;
  • and suggestions for changing the present system — not limited to changing copyright law.

Some of these issues have been covered in other sources — including ye average hipster party where that guy expounds on the importance of Paul’s Boutique and Fear of a Black Planet. But this book includes charts detailing the estimated costs of those album’s samples, including how the artists, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, would have lost money on every album sold if those samples had all been cleared. And that is the real value of this book, the ability to contextualize the complexity of the issues surrounding sampling in a way that helps the reader to understand the real world implications for musicians.

I especially want to commend the authors for the time and energy to conduct the qualitative scholarship to interview the large number of recording artists, lawyers, recording industry representatives, academics, and journalists. Without this first-person insight, this book could have been like many books and articles that discuss a subcultural phenomenon without having direct knowledge. Instead, the authors provide an easily understandable academic argument where those-in-the-know are sampled for their insight. (Not mentioned by the authors is the strange dichotomy where quotations, such as those used in this book, are accepted, but sampling of a musical equivalent by those quoted artists requires permissions — or the potentiality of being sued).

Also strongly recommended is the quasi-companion documentary, Copyright Criminals, that has just been re-released with lots of extras. The entire documentary is available to watch on Hulu (for those in the U.S.). And there is a companion DJ sample mix!

As a long aside, I also think it is interesting that in categorizing this book, the Library of Congress placed this book within the subject of “plagiarism in music” — this misses the point of showing the creativity of much of sampling — and confuses the issue of copyright with the academic/societal issue of plagiarism. (And there is a more relevant subject heading: “quotation in music“).

The book was released with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-ShareAlike license.

Disclosure statement: TLF is a career acquaintance of both authors, but has not discussed this review with either before posting.

Be the Brand: Required Involvement in Social Media – Part 1

Based on our presentation at MIT: Media in Transition 7

There’s been much written about the professional risk of social media use for individuals and for businesses; in media reports as well as a recent National Labor Relations Board decision regarding employees use of Facebook to complain about a supervisor

But what happens when employees are encouraged (or required by the terms of employment) to publicly represent a company or brand through personal use of social media?

Several years ago, many companies were skittish about employee use of blogs and other social networking tools. More recently, however, some brands are increasingly creating “official” company social media profiles as well as establishing social media policies to encourage employees to unofficially represent a company via social media during the work day and off-hours, with the understanding that transparency and personal contact are widely seen as important to success in social media communication and marketing. This article discusses issues involving intellectual property, privacy, and the bounds of employment within personal and professional social media use.

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Bin Laden, Twitter and the News: Now What?

At this point the role of Twitter in spreading the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death is hardly news, and I certainly won’t rehash all the breathless proclamations of Twitter as the “new CNN” but here’s a run down of the major points

Mashable: Bin Laden’s Death Sparks Record 12.4 Million Tweets Per Hour [STATS]

Twitter has released updated statistics on the usage of its platform last night. Previously, the social media company reported that more than 4,000 tweets were sent per second during the beginning and the end of Obama’s speech. It now says the real number of tweets was about 25% higher.

Mashable: One Twitter User Reports Live From Osama Bin Laden Raid

Without knowing what he was doing, Sohaib Athar, a.k.a. @ReallyVirtual, has more or less just live-tweeted the raid in which terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday.

The IT consultant resides in Abbottabad, the town where bin Laden was found and killed by a U.S. military operation.

Athar first posted about events surrounding the raid 10 hours before the publication of this article, writing, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” He didn’t realize that he’d been tweeting about a top-secret attempt to kill an internationally wanted terrorist until nine hours later.

The use of Twitter to quickly disseminate the Bin Laden story is definitely relevant, and should be used as an example for those who still dismiss Twitter or social media in general as a place for people to talk about what they ate for lunch.

The fact is, social media did scoop TV and print media in this case, and for some, it was the only source of information on this event. But now what? Will the Bin Laden Effect mean anything for how news organizations in general use Twitter? I hope so, for the most part many major news organizations have been grudging adopters of social media tools, and it’s been individual journalists who have really taken advantage of Twitter’s speed and brevity.  But rather than looking at social media as as a competitor or glorified news feed, i am hoping this event  (particularly the case of @reallyvirtual) will prompt more major news organizations start to integrate Twitter intentfully as a tool for reporting and news curation (a la Andy Carvin from NPR)

Any examples of smaller news organizations that are already doing this? I’d love to hear more about it.