K-Pop Double Take is a weekly review column highlighting recent releases that have yet to receive the attention we feel they deserve.
With the rise of singular personalities like Rick Ross and Drake, it seems as if hip-hop has become ever more entrenched in paranoia and isolation of either the legally binding or or romantic variety.
"All I care about is money and the city where I'm from," went the chorus of one of Drake's most popular hits.
The Teflon Don, Rick Ross, went so far as to name a track "I Don't Trust You."
These withdrawn Howard Hughes-isms disavow hip-hop's communal roots. Those same roots are celebrated, however, on MFBTY's single "Buckubucku," from the South Korean act's album "Wondaland," released on March 16. "Buckubucku" is the essence of the posse cut--many styles interspersed and juxtaposed for maximum impact.
A cheeky acronym for "My Fans (Are) Better Than Yours," MFBTY is a trio led by music industry veterans Tiger JK, Yoon Mi Rae and Bizzy.
From a production standpoint, "Buckubucku" is rather contemporary, perhaps even a little behind the times. Its verses are punctuated by syncopated snare cracks reminiscent of Lil' Wayne's 2008 mega-hit "A Milli."
And keeping with the power-in-numbers mentality"Buckubucku" showcases not only the lyrical skills of MFBTY, but three additional rappers, EE, Rap Monster and Dino-J.
Riding the sleek rhythm of the backing track, the six MCs each get a turn at the wheel, creating an inclusive space for shit-talking, boasting and other perennial hip-hop tropes. That whirlwind of personality gives "Buckubucku" a classic feel.
The first proper verse comes from the pugilistic newcomer EE, who sounds like nothing so much as a Korean answer to Die Antwoord's Yolandi Visser (as if you needed more proof of hip-hop's global supremacy, try comparing a Korean rapper to a South African rapper).
Less than 30 seconds later, the mic has been passed to Bizzy, who offers a gritty verse. However, speaking frankly, his turn in the spotlight is nothing compared to that of Yoon Mi Rae. Yoon goes pretty dang hard on her eight lines, but that's how posse cuts work--you get a brief opportunity to shine and you take it. Her "boss bitch" boasting is textually unremarkable, but her flow recalls the tough internal rhyme schemes of T.I.
From there, verses from guests Dino-J and Bangtan Boys's Rap Monster contribute elements of playfulness or even light menace, but compared to Yoon, they don't quite deliver the goods. They're by no means slouches, but their relative greenness shows through.
Tiger JK takes the last turn at the microphone and his entrance is accompanied by skittering hi-hats that are interwoven into his flow to enormous effect.
As the group's legend-in-residence, Tiger has nothing to prove. However, he offers a devastating contribution, one of the strongest of the track. This is a common trait of these kinds of guest-heavy rap songs, the time-tested members of the group often do the heavy lifting, while allowing the newcomers some space to show what they can do.
While the core members of MFBTY, generally speaking, have the strongest showing on "Buckubucku," these kinds of performer-packed tracks nod towards a more welcoming and encouraging side of hip-hop and the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Watch the music video for MFBTY's 2015 single "Buckubucku" RIGHT HERE
Jeff Tobias is a composer, musician and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been studying arcane systems of tuning and working on his jump shot.