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K-Pop Beyond The Charts: illinit's Rap Game Is Strong On The Fiercely Original 'Just Like' Featuring Nucksal [AUDIO]

By Jesse Lent | June 18, 2015 05:50 PM EDT

K-Pop Beyond The Charts is a weekly review column highlighting Korea's modern day musical innovators who have yet to find mainstream success.

It's no coincidence that the same chord patterns show up again and again in pop music.

Any hack on a major label can repackage the same progression in a way familiar enough to win legions of mainstream music fans, yet different enough to not get sued for copyright infringement. What is more difficult (and arguably also more admirable) is the artist that can take dissonant or surprising sounds and tonalities and shape them into something that is both unique and enticing.

That is the stuff that originality is made out of.

That is why "Just Like," released on June 9 by South Korean rapper illinit and featuring rapper Nucksal is so exciting. With a strange slowed down bass part that almost seems to come from inside the bass drum and a jazzy chord progression that borders on the atonal, "Just Like" mixes sonic textures so unique it would seem impossible to make them work in any context, let alone blended together.

Yet, illinit, probably best known to K-pop fans for his work on San E's April 23 single "I Deserve It" also featuring Jessi of hip-hop trio Lucky J and i11evn, turns this weirdness bordering on free jazz into a danceable groove with a good ol' fashioned punchy hip-hop beat and some major league rapping.

Nucksal is, of course no slouch either.

These two MCs are having so much fun killing it on the mic, you don't even notice how bizarre the musical backdrop happens to be.

From its two-turntable beginnings in the South Bronx, rap music has always been about blending unexpected sounds with rappers who love what they do, do it to be the best and aren't afraid to brag about it. All too often, both of those ideals get lost in translation as artists both inside and outside US struggle to reinterpret the genre 40 years later.

It's always energizing to hear artists on the other side of the globe still carrying the torch.

Listen to the latest illinit single "Just Like" featuring Nucksal RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  Illinit, K-Pop Beyond The Charts, Just Like, Nucksal

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