Story by Emma Kalka
International hip-hop collaboration finds a home in Korea
Take a producer and DJ from Germany, another from the U.S., and then two rappers from South Korea and what do you get?
Sometimes, you end up with magic.
In the day and age of social media and the internet, it has become much easier for musicians and artists to reach out and collaborate from opposite sides of the world. Much like the grouping of AF the Naysayer from New Orleans, BAHR from Germany and Bluechan and D’Light People from South Korea. The group has been making music together for a few years now, however didn’t actually meet up face-to-face until this year, performing on stage together for the first time at Zandari Festa.
BAHR seems to be the glue of the group. He first met and worked with AF online, with the two finally meeting in person for the first time at Focus Festival in Wales earlier this year. Then through his connection with another Korean producer, he discovered Bluechan and his crew D’light People. They all began making tracks together over the years, finally deciding it was time to come together in person.
“I connected him (AF the Naysayer) to Bluechan and they made a few tracks. A few years later, all of us had a few tracks together and it just made sense that we come together,” BAHR said. “After knowing each other for six years, instantly, it was like (we’ve) always been best friends… It’s vibrant and the language barrier is not too big of a problem.”
The group has a dynamic that works, with BAHR saying it’s been interesting seeing the crowd’s reaction to them. He and AF the Naysayer do their own DJ sets, with Bluechan and fellow crew member Halo performing in between.
“It had a good dynamic for the show. It’s fun to see how people react to our instrumental music and then having the Korean rap,” he said. “People seem to like it as well.
“I think what makes us work together, we have a certain bond together in our songs. There’s a certain funk to it. Whatever we produce, we try to make it so you can recognize our own sound.”
He added that AF has a unique electronic sound that is difficult to describe. “When people force him to describe it the he ends up saying something like chill-step and future bass which are not good labels,” he said with a laugh. “But there is no label for it.”
As for Bluechan, BAHR said he’s been a great connection to South Korea.
“It’s a great collaboration because Bluechan, he’s been in the scene for awhile now, so he knows a lot about Korean hip-hop. And he brings a little different approach to it,” he said.
And even though most of the collaboration thus far has been through the internet, BAHR said that it feels as though they’ve known each other much longer than they have. Not to mention, everyone brings their own sound, style and characteristics to the group.
A lot of the collaboration is thanks to BAHR’s interest in South Korean hip-hop – something he said AF the Naysayer shares thanks to the recent pique of interest in the genre in the U.S. He added that Korean hip-hop is a big influence on the collaboration in general, “because they (Korean rappers) take things to a different level.”
Despite being from a different country, he said he sees similarities between the crowds in Germany and the crowds in Korea. “Because they are afraid to dance, maybe,” he said, laughing.
“When it’s music they don’t know, that they haven’t heard before. I don’t know if this is a thing for sure right now, but it kind of seemed like that. And Germany is similar to that,” he said. “It depends on what kind of music you play. If it’s kind of 90s boom-bap hip-hop, then they know the groove. They know how to move. If it’s a little experimental, then I guess people just like to listen and check it out.”
BAHR added that while they do their own thing, the group is always listening to other music – different music – and it’s fun to listen to how producers in Korea flip samples. He added that sometimes when doing his own sets in Hamburg, he’ll throw on Korean hip-hop, just to see the reaction. The German crowd loves it, according to BAHR, adding that the production is so good they can dance to it.
The group only had about two and a half weeks together in Korea, during which they played Zandari, Strange Fruit and Vent, as well as worked on music together. While BAHR said they have a good working relationship regardless, it was definitely easier technical-wise being all together. From here, they plan to work on bigger, greater projects.
The group is hoping to tour Europe and America next. And hopefully put together an EP by the time BAHR gets them to Europe next year. If possible, they’d like to gather in Korea again next year. Through Zandari and Focus Festival, the group has been able to meet a lot of people that can hopefully make these goals a reality.
“The thing is, that what I learned is, once you go out there, if you want it or not, you meet people. Who can help you and also who want to help you, because it’s usually their job to get musicians out there,” he said. “I’m just happy that they like the stuff that we do, cause we can definitely cater to an audience, but we are trying to do more of our own thing.”
Outside of that, BAHR said the group hopes to focus on music videos as well, since it can help people who may not understand the language get the vibe of the track.
To follow AF the Naysayer, BAHR, Bluechan and D’Light People, check out their social media.