On the eve of his new album release, Big Bang's R&B king discusses his mixtape dreams, first loves, and the downside of K-pop.
In the early aughts, YG Entertainment
opened its doors to two 13-year-old boys aspiring to become pop stars. The teens would study together as trainees for over five years before officially debuting in 2006 as members of K-pop group Big Bang
One of them, known as G-Dragon
, became celebrated as much for his music as his fashion sense, splashed on blogs and magazine pages around the world.
The other, Taeyang, took a slightly different path. Though a style trendsetter in his own right—you couldn't wave a camera at Paris Fashion Week this year without catching him and GD mingling somewhere—the singer born Dong Young-bae has earned most of his accolades as a result of his musical output. Taeyang is the closest Korea has to a true R&B star.
His boss, YG Entertainment CEO Yang Hyun-suk
describes Taeyang as "the type whose understanding of music and dance are really deep.
" The proof is in the 25-year-old's output: Among the five Big Bang members, Taeyang was the first to release a solo effort (the mini-album Hot in 2008). Since then, he has released a string of hits, from his initial solo release, "Only Look At Me
," to the singles ("Where U At
," "Wedding Dress," and "I Need a Girl"
) off his debut full-length album, Solar
Whereas G-Dragon's solo music is a hybrid of different genres, Taeyang’s catalog focuses solely on American-style R&B—and all that comes with it. On stage and in videos, Taeyang's limber moves have earned him a rep as K-pop's best natural dancer.
Taeyang broke his four-year solo hiatus last November, wresting the spotlight back with the aggressive "Ringa Linga
," which quickly soared to the top of the charts across Asia. As he finally drops his oft-delayed Rise album, Taeyang candidly shared his thoughts on the K-pop explosion to reconciling his solo dreams with his Big Bang obligations in this Noonchi exclusive interview.( Collapse )
Interview by Jaeki Cho