Over the previous seven years, Zico has made himself a family title within the South Korean music scene. As each a soloist and because the chief of Ok-pop boy band Block B, the 26-year-old has transcended stereotypes within the trade to go onto turning into one among Korea’s most acknowledged artists and songwriters. He’s seen hit after hit since 2015, coming into his personal with a flare for variety: he’s leaned into swaggering hip-hop on the likes of “Okey Dokey” with WINNER’s Mino, proven a dramatic aptitude on smoldering alt-R&B songs like “Bermuda Triangle” with Dean and Crush, shared his playful aspect on “Boys and Girls” with Babylon, and showcased a little bit of candy sentimentality via tracks like “I Am You, You Are Me.”
For Zico, born Woo Jiho, there’s no actual restrict to the type of music he desires to pursue. “There are many alternative sides to me,” he mentioned backstage forward of a latest New York City solo present, including that he desires folks to see that he incorporates all kinds of genres into his songs. He attracts inspiration from the music that he’s listening to at any given second and, like frequent collaborator Crush, despite the fact that September’s handed he’s not too long ago been listening to Earth, Wind & Fire.
While acting at the Playstation Theater, the ultimate Stateside cease of his King of the Zungle world tour, Zico ran via the varied stylings of his discography, and even threw in a solo model of Block B’s rambunctious 2016 single “Her.” When requested how he felt about performing for the primary time within the metropolis on his personal, he laughed. “Last evening, I got here to Times Square and I used to be pondering, ‘Oh, this is able to be cool to carry out at,’” when he noticed the venue from the surface. “But I didn’t know that this was the place the place I’d be performing, so I used to be very stunned.”
But with the ability to play a venue within the coronary heart of Times Square with a capability of over 2,000 hasn’t come simply to Zico. Two years into its profession, Block B introduced, and misplaced, a lawsuit towards its former label on grounds of non-payment, ultimately leaving it and shifting to Seven Season Entertainment, which continues to handle the crew. Zico personally struggled as properly; as an underground rapper turned Ok-pop star, usually generally known as idols, he confronted criticism of selling-out. “There had been quite a lot of prejudices and biased views of me once I began off as an idol group member,” he recalled. “That actually can’t be helped, however I simply steadily did my factor and loved it, not letting the stigma hinder me and my music. People began to show round and started to simply accept me.”
Accepting is an understatement; through the years he’s confirmed his value as an artist, snug each inside a boy band and with out. Since 2015, he has repeatedly topped Korean music charts and has been nominated and awarded at year-end South Korean award reveals for his musical efforts. Does he really feel that this technology of Ok-pop rappers face the identical stigma that he as soon as did from the now-mainstream hip-hop scene in Korea? “I feel there are new prejudices and biases that folks have about Ok-pop and idol rappers,” mentioned Zico. “Whoever and wherever, there are prejudices and there are biases, and it doesn’t matter what I or anybody else does these stay. It is probably not the identical ones, they could shift barely, however these prejudices nonetheless stay.”
The Korean music world is altering extraordinarily quick, Zico admits, and people biases are altering with them, each inside and out of doors of South Korea. “The indisputable fact that there are such a lot of folks, globally, outdoors of Korea which are listening to Ok-pop… I don’t know, it’s only a growth a bit bit out of nowhere as an alternative of a gentle development so I’m nonetheless a bit bit shocked at how that unfold has unfold. It’s actually nice to see what BTS has achieved.” Zico himself helps broaden South Korean music's attain; earlier this 12 months, he was a part of a contingent of artists that carried out in North Korea throughout an Inter-Korean summit.
While Ok-pop’s momentum internationally, significantly within the States, picked up in 2018, the previous 11 months have largely been quiet ones for Zico. Focusing on his tour, he’s solely launched a sole single this 12 months, August’s “SoulMate” with South Korea’s “little sister” IU, arguably the nation’s hottest feminine soloist of the last decade.
A mellow duet that he describes as an “R&B soul music,” Zico's newest single topped South Korea’s Gaon Chart for the 31st week of 2018. “I really feel very happy with my accomplishments and the way far I’ve come because the early days of my profession. In the Korean hierarchy, IU is a senior since she debuted first. I used to be so completely satisfied to work along with her once more since she’s somebody I actually respect and whose music I like. I don’t know, every part fell collectively and I used to be actually fortunate to get to work collectively and launch this music along with her.” The lighthearted single was the primary time the pair had collaborated since IU’s saccharine 2009 single “Marshmallow.”
What’s subsequent for Zico? “I’m at all times producing and making music, and proper now I’m making an attempt to determine what path I’m shifting in subsequent,” he mentioned. “I’ve labored with a few artists and featured on some songs, however I don’t know when it’ll be launched but. So folks must be looking out.”