Over the past seven years, Zico has made himself a household name in the South Korean music scene. As both a soloist and as the leader of K-pop boy band Block B, the 26-year-old has transcended stereotypes in the industry to go onto becoming one of Korea’s most recognized artists and songwriters. He’s seen hit after hit since 2015, coming into his own with a flare for diversity: he’s leaned into swaggering hip-hop on the likes of “Okey Dokey” with WINNER’s Mino, shown a dramatic flair on smoldering alt-R&B songs like “Bermuda Triangle” with Dean and Crush, shared his playful side on “Boys and Girls” with Babylon, and showcased a bit of sweet sentimentality through tracks like “I Am You, You Are Me.”
For Zico, born Woo Jiho, there’s no real limit to the sort of music he wants to pursue. “There are many different sides to me,” he said backstage ahead of a recent New York City solo show, adding that he wants people to see that he incorporates a wide variety of genres into his songs. He draws inspiration from the music that he’s listening to at any given moment and, like frequent collaborator Crush, even though September’s passed he’s recently been listening to Earth, Wind & Fire.
While performing at the Playstation Theater, the final Stateside stop of his King of the Zungle world tour, Zico ran through the diverse stylings of his discography, and even threw in a solo version of Block B’s rambunctious 2016 single “Her.” When asked how he felt about performing for the first time in the city on his own, he laughed. “Last night, I came to Times Square and I was thinking, ‘Oh, this would be cool to perform at,’” when he saw the venue from the outside. “But I didn’t know that this was the place where I’d be performing, so I was very surprised.”