K-HIP HOP

A New Music Video For “DNA Remix”

Learn about Korean history with H1GHR Music and "DNA Remix" music video.

The release on June 14 of the DNA Remix music video has been quite controversial. Following the accusations of cultural appropriation and the backlash on social media, H1GHR Music set the video private. However, it is still possible for you to watch it on other YouTube channels. Today the label dropped another music video of DNA Remix directed by ILLUMIN. Let’s see what has changed.

A music video more patriotic

H1GHR Music posted a new music video of DNA Remix on the very first day of this blog! Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with KOMIYE. The release was scheduled to coincide with a Korean holiday. At the beginning of the music video, we learn that August 15 is the date of the National Liberation Day of Korea called Gwangbokjeol (광복절) in the native language. The Gwangbokjeol celebrates the end of 35 years of Japanese occupation that lasted from 1910 to 1945. It’s longer than my own life! The date of publication is meant to be symbolic: 8/15 at 8:15 PM (KST).

I remember regretting that the first version did not include any aesthetic representation of South Korea, not even a flag. This new version aims to fill the gap by highlighting different aspects of Korean culture such as:

  • traditional architecture, we can see hanoks (Jay Park & child scenes) and the Gyeongbok Palace (last scene with the child);
  • Korean food and places to eat out (365LIT & pH 1 scenes, and others);
  • Streets and attractive areas (lIlBOI & OSUN scenes)
  • board game popular with older generations (baduk, Lee Young Ji scene);
  • hobbies popular with young generations (PC bang, Ourealgoat scene / Karaoke room, Choo scene);
  • Transports (bus, D.Ark scene / Ilban taxi, lIlBOI);

The last scene that takes place in the Gyeongbok Palace is the most emblematic moment. Many monuments were destroyed or deteriorated during the Japanese occupation, such as the Gyeongbok Palace, which had to undergo several renovations over the centuries. The scene shows a little boy in front of the Gyeongbok Palace. Visually, it’s a strong message that invites the young generation never to forget their heritage and the tribulations the country had to endure to win its freedom. Just as the Gyeongbok Palace was restored to reaffirm the greatness of the Korean nation, the Korean people have gradually risen and now stand together with honor and dignity. What a poetic way to end a music video!

While the first version focuses on young Korean hip hop fans/rappers, this new music video highlights Korea’s history and heritage. I think the two are complementary, but because there’s no direct reference to Korea in the first video, I feel that the second video better represents the Korean DNA of the artists featured in this song.

A declaration of love to Korea and hip hop

One of the things that caught my attention was the mix of generations from children to seniors. Clothing and hairstyles are indicators of the differences between ages. Lee Young Ji’s crop top and pink hair contrast with the sober clothes of the seniors. Most seniors aren’t rap fans and don’t understand hip hop; however, that doesn’t stop them from sharing intergenerational moments like the scene in which Lee Young Ji invites herself to a game of baduk, and the one in which pH-1 toasts with his elders. Not to mention the fact that Jay Park wears a hanbok while remaining hip hop. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to embrace your passion for hip hop and show love for your “DNA”.

In the last scene, a child is staring at Gyeongbok Palace while listening to music (probably DNA Remix), and I thought he would have taken off his earphones, but no, he kept them on. This is a brilliant way to say that Korean people can be hip hop fans without betraying their roots.

DNA Remix music video reminded me of Erykah Badu’s Love Of My Life because the two videos are similar in many aspects of their construction. I’m not talking about plagiarism! They are not visually alike. However, it’s about putting forward his people and hip hop in both of them:

  • In Love Of My Life, hip hop is the main subject, and the history of Afro-Americans is subtly put in the background, while DNA Remix foregrounds Korea, and hip hop comes next.
  • The first few seconds epitomize the main subject of the video. The introduction of DNA Remix includes a vocal extract of what seems to be an archive recording about Korea. At the beginning of Love Of My Life, we hear the question, “When did you first fall in love with hip hop?” from the movie Brown Sugar.
  • In DNA Remix, each rapper shows us a specific aspect of South Korea, while in Love Of My Life, Erykah Badu embodies the different genres and influences that have shaped hip hop.
  • At the end of DNA Remix, the future is personified by a little boy listening to music in front of the Gyeongbok Palace. At the end of Love Of My Life, it is symbolized by a school bus registered as “Future”.

No more “H1GHR gang” mode

I really appreciated that this new version did not just bring the group together in a “hood” setting as it was the case in other collaborations between the members of the label (the first version of DNA Remix, GANG official remix, The Purge). However, I would have liked to see a scene that brings them all together. Maybe the health situation didn’t allow it, or their personal schedule made it impossible. When H1GHR Music artists come together, it gives off unique energy. They are more into it, and they all become more hood (lol). This is how you know when the “H1GHR gang” mode is on.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to see them live, but this collective energy manages to get through my screen. If you’ve been to their “H1GHR Music Tour” before, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

Conclusion

Rap music can help you face the hard times of your life. You can find comfort in a rapper because he has been through a similar situation and has talked about it in his lyrics. You can go beyond your body’s limits by hardly sleeping just because you feel the need to work on your music or because, for the thousandth time, you want to listen to a song that has left a deep impression on you. In this sense, hip hop can be part of your DNA, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Remember that there’s a difference between enjoying rap music and being passionate about it. So there will always be people who don’t understand your love for hip hop. The new DNA Remix music video is a real source of inspiration for all rap fans from a country that didn’t participate in creating of hip hop.

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