top of page

How K Hip-Hop Artists Have Turned to Entertainment-Style Content to Help Globalise Their Presence


If your algorithms are anything like ours, then you would notice the increase in K Hip-Hop personnel in other forms of media within the Korean entertainment industry. From TOIL and GIST guessing celebrity faces on Ash Island's newly opened channel “JustAsh (그냥애쉬)”, to seeing Simon Dominic’s over 10 years of experience in entertainment shows continue on through his hosting of both seasons of “Transit Love”. The higher visibility of K Hip-Hop artists begs the question: Why is a once closed off, underground industry now opening its doors to the world?

The history of K Hip-Hop spans just over 20 years, where it was forced to stay underground and where people’s only introduction of it was through the many venues in the streets of Seoul. With this attracted a certain audience of people who yearned to hear the music, building a community organically from the ground up.

However, as the years have gone by, social media has now shifted the way in which communities are built, how much access people have into these scenes, and how much information about certain artists is out there. Social media serves as a tool to push content further out into the world and in the case of K Hip-Hop, popularises a scene on a global platform.

The Expansion of YouTube Variety Shows

YouTube thumbnail of Jay Park (left) and Lee Youngji (right) for Lee Youngji's Youtube channel "No Prepare"
Lee Youngji's "No Prepare (차린건 쥐뿔도 없지만)" EP. 21 (Feat. Jay Park)

Away from photo sharing apps such as Instagram, and thought-provoking platforms such as Twitter, or now X, and the most recent Threads, YouTube has now seen a surge in K Hip-Hop channels and content where different crews and individuals have been showcasing their personalities as well as their art with the world. From AOMG and their plethora of series ranging from “Hoody’s Home Dining (후디의 요리 모음집)” and “Woo’s Yomozomo (우원재의 요모조모)”, to the likes of 20-year-old rapper Lee Youngji’s “No Prepare (차린건 쥐뿔도 없지만)” which has gained 3.25 million subscribers with only 34 videos uploaded. The world of K Hip-Hop has now exploded in a way which strips down the curtains of the mystery that once surrounded the genre.

In an essay by Jamie Shinhee Lee, they talk about the “Glocalization of Hip-Hop”– specifically on how Korean Hip-Hop artists adapt their interpretation of the genre to their local society. Detailing where a range of artists get their inspiration and their 'drive' from by taking their lyrics and correlating it to Korean society. The chapter Meta-hip hop: career, global ambition and work ethic stands out the most, as it speaks about the importance of which K Hip Hop artists place onto their work ethics when striving to achieve their goals. That testament appears evident as many artists have branched out into other parts of the industry such as entertainment programmes and by their creation of entertainment YouTube series’.

With the limitations of big video productions due to Covid-19, the rise of digitised entertainment programmes in the form of YouTube videos grew bigger and everyone was getting involved. Whether you were an already renowned name in the industry like Park Myungsoo, or someone whose fame had grown greatly such as P Nation’s Jessi, viewers have been able to watch their content from their mobile phone screens which are easily accessible to them. Jessi’s “Showterview (제시의 쇼!터뷰)” began in June of 2020 and consisted of 96 episodes, most of which garnered over a million views and featured a variety of guests from idols, to comedians, to actors— both Korean and international names.

YouTube today has globalised a scene that was once underground, bringing many of these artist’s personalities to the light. Nowadays, it’s way easier to learn more about CODE KUNST through his “CODE KUNST’s Starry Ear Night (코쿤의 귀가 빛나는 밤에)” series on AOMG’s YouTube channel and through his appearances on the entertainment programme “I Live Alone (나 혼자 산다)”.

And with Lee Youngji’s ever-growing channel featuring guests ranging from fellow rappers, K-Pop industry friends, and renown Korean football players, her growth on the platform doesn’t seem to be faltering. This all goes back to Jamie Shinee Lee’s study, on how far K Hip-Hop artists are willing to grow to promote themselves on a global scale, and YouTube is presenting itself as the perfect place to do that.

The Help of TikTok

When talking about the realms of K Hip-Hop content on YouTube, the most prominent content online consisted of “Show Me The Money” and “High School Rapper” clips, and compilation videos that consisted of their favourite rappers from live streams or the odd television show appearance. One of the ways this has been utilised is through another powerhouse video platform: TikTok. The presence of dance challenges throughout the Korean industry can be felt and has been ongoing since the beginning of 2029; originating from Zico and Hwasa’s “#anysongchallenge”.

The viral 49 second clip started a trend amongst idols and rappers alike to collaborate with one another to promote each other's songs. From then, depending on your algorithm, you are guaranteed to have come across one of your favourite artists promoting their songs with an unexpected musician.

Jay Park is one of the many who has collaborated on TikTok videos to promote his own, and other artists' songs. His features on videos have cost him to go viral many times from his feature on K-Pop group ENHYPEN’s “Future Perfect (Pass the MIC)”, to various of his own viral songs “GANADARA ( Feat. IU)”, and “Candy (Feat. Zion.T)”.

On a platform like TikTok, and its supporting video-sharing platforms YouTube and Twitter, now X, videos and clips almost ensured to go viral with its reach to users worldwide. This global expansion met with many eager eyes and ears that craved content to watch, and with an industry as self-contained as K Hip-Hop to now be shown in fragments like these, fans craved more content to keep up with certain artists and releases, to find out what their character was like.

The Possible Downside to Variety Content

However, with new audiences comes different introductions to different artists. How did you find out about Lil Cherry? Did you discover her music via one of Spotify’s many personally curated playlists, or did you find out about her through a 15-second TikTok from her famous Dingo FreeStyle video? This global expansion has caused artists going viral for certain traits or solely for their characters versus their actual music.

This may be seen as a slight disadvantage when it comes to attracting new audiences without feeling stuck between entertainment shows and music. Going back to CODE KUNST, who has been recognised and nominated for his music at award shows since 2016 however, has won more awards for his entertainment show appearances. In consequence, his 17-track album Remember Archive which was released earlier this year sold more copies than his previous work. The way in which artists navigate within the entertainment show world depends on how much they’re willing to allow their personalities to become equal–or bigger than their music, without lowering the quality of either.

New Audiences and What They Bring

So, how do you attract new audiences without feeling stuck between variety and music? Simply by embracing both sides. There are many artists whose work in both sectors resulted in both global and domestic recognition, think meenoi, whose personality and music goes hand-in-hand, where both her song covers and self-shot videos on her own YouTube channel have helped reflected her personality as well as her successful “Meenoi’s Yorizori (미노이의 요리조리)” series on the AOMG channel. Think Nucksal, whose appearance and win on “Show Me The Money 6” brought him a plethora of appearances on popular shows boosting his domestic popularity such as “Amazing Saturday,” where he is a fixed member.

Or think about how many viral clips you’ve seen of some of your favourite artists from the Psick Univ’s channel. Their series “The PSICK SHOW” fused together a unique concept between K-Comedy and an all English-Korean interview style of talk show. The trio had won Best Entertainment Show by the Baeksang Arts Award, which was the first time a YouTube series had been nominated and won over a televised programme. Jung Jaehyun, one of the three comedians shared with Korea JoongAng Daily: “The nomination itself meant that the awards were trying to expand its horizons to include new media, so we had no reason to think that we could win. We thought it would go to a larger entertainment show or something made by broadcasters like in the past. We were going to be grateful just for attending.”

The success of Korea’s creative industries has been fast-growing, meaning that the industry is prone to evolve overtime. Whether you’re hearing a K Hip-Hop artist for the first time in a club, or if one of their songs serves as an outro to their YouTube videos, there are many gateways now into the K Hip-Hop scene. The push and pull with staying underground in a world that is quickly becoming digital can seem strong with many artists deciding to work with it, not against it, or not at all. Will we continue to see a surge of K Hip-Hop artists creating a variety style of content?

Nicole N.

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page