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 not every day that a new artist debuts with a fully realized sound that is as unique as it is appealing. It is even more rare that the artist knocks it out of the park as a singer and a rapper.
Which is precisely what makes the debut of South Korean vocalist Kassy whose first single "In My Bed" was released on Tuesday, so exciting.
With a sonic return to the days when Lauryn Hill dominated the charts with equally powerful vocal melodies and street-centric rhyming, Kassy manages an almost schizophrenic switch between vocal personas on "In My Bed."
Her singing is relaxed and almost downright angelic as the notes pour out of her. Her rhyming is bratty, edgy and verges on sounding mean. Like a slice of crisp green apple and a hunk of creamy Brie, the two contrasting flavors complement each other perfectly. And it's an equilibrium that's achieved musically as well. In a Korean pop music industry dominated by the polar extremes of sleepy ballads and headache-inducing high-energy romps, it's refreshing to see an artist find the potent combination of an enticing slow jam with a powerful beat.
With the stripped-down drum sequence and the retro Fender Rhodes, musically, "In My Bed" is a clear nod to both seminal R&B artists that rose to fame in the 1990 like Mary J. Blige or Faith Evans and neo soul artists like Erykah Badu and Hill.
But like any artist worth discussing, Kassy puts her own special stamp on it. She manages to both croon and emote, all while avoiding all the pitfalls any new artist faces like over emoting or giving into a bad producer's urgings to use correct pitch correction or other vibe-killing digital artifice.
With a sound that is already this good, let's hope Kassy will continue to push the envelope, no matter what the suits tell her to do.
Listen to the debut single "In My Bed" released Wednesday by South Korean vocalist and rapper Kassy RIGHT HERE