2015 has been about a lot of things, surprise weddings, secret marriages, disbandments, and more. But amidst all the drama, shocking headlines, and comebacks, who owned the year 2015? The easy answers are Big Bang, Wonder Girls or maybe even Girls’ Generation, but if I really dig deep and look at the person who came into their own and changed things up in Kpop, the person who really owned 2015 was Block B’s Zico.
He spent the year releasing solid song, after “Yes or No,” after solid song, even earning a music show award for “Boys And Girls” without promotion, and ended the year with the release of his solid mini album “Gallery.” In addition to releasing and promoting his own music, Zico was everywhere else, working with just about everyone. He was on TV, judging for Season 4 of Show Me The Money, producing songs for Season 2 of Unpretty Rapstar, and even featured on the OST for one of the year’s biggest dramas, Mask. He showed off his versatility as a rapper by featuring for Park Boram on “Beautiful,” for Crush on “Oasis“, for Dynamic Duo on “야유회 (Picnic),” and collaborating with Hyorin and Paloalto for “Dark Panda.”
But, his biggest accomplishment of the year (at least in my opinion) was when he broke through a pretty tough barrier when he featured on f(x)’s “Traveler,” perhaps the best songs off the groups album “4 Walls.” By their artist, Heechul’s own admission, SM keeps everything they do in house, casting their own actors for videos and calling on their own singers to play rapper for songs. So, Zico being a rival artist featuring for one of their biggest groups is a particularly big feat, especially considering SM now has a pretty decent house rapper in Iron.
Zico’s transition into a solo artist in 2015 was an exemplary continuation of Block B’s growth since doing the near impossible of making a comeback following a lawsuit with their agency. By simply doing what he does best, Zico still gets to be an idol while being a tride and true rapper, and with that authenticity he has grown beyond his idol status and gained access to every aspect of the music industry, even getting his foot through the very exclusive SM doors. In addition, his success this year has help his group, at least to me, seem like more than just an idol group but one of substance and capable of unlimited success outside of “idol-hood,” something I’ve only seen accomplished once before by Big Bang (did I just make a prediction?).
However, more than helping to strengthen his group’s reputation, through his domination of 2015, Zico has strengthened the reputation of idol rappers. The particularly great thing about this year was that Zico used it to overcome some pretty big musical bumps in the road last year, and for that he has earned himself a place in the handbook for future idol rappers who want to thrive outside of their idol status. He doesn’t make a case for absolute perfection, but rather dedication. This year Zico has not only proved he is a force in the music industry as a rapper, producer and writer, but he proved that idol rappers are not just puppets but can be real rappers with real skill, and real credibility.
“Get familiar,” because Zico is here to stay!