K-pop’s a fully-fleshed industry in 2017, but in 1992 Seo Taiji (Jung Hyun Chul) & Boys shocked Korea’s pop industry into its current state with “Nan Arayo” (“I Know”), a hip-hop leaning dance track that ignited the nation’s crazy for idol-oriented music.
On Saturday (Sept. 3), Seo took fans on a trip through his past hits before proclaiming boy band BTS his musical successors during his 25th anniversary Time: Traveler concert.
With 35,000 fans in attendance, Seo, known as the “President of Culture” in South Korea, went through the sonic history of his career, featuring the music of Seo Taiji & Boys, which served as the prototype for the multitude of K-pop acts to follow, and many of his solo hits. He performed two dozen songs from various eras of his career during the two and a half hour-long concert, reports the Korea Times.
— Seotaiji Company (@master0221) September 3, 2017
The show, part of Lotte Card’s Moov: Sound Track vol. 2 project, was held on Sept. 2, the same day a special 25th anniversary album was released featuring Seo’s biggest hits along with remakes of his songs by other Korean acts, including R&B trio Urban Zakapa — who served as concert openers along with rock band Gukkasten — Crush, Heize, Suran, Younha, Eddy Kim, Loopy & nafla, and BTS.
With numerous songs of their own that address the hardships facing South Korean youth and society and hip-hop leanings on par with Seo Taiji & Boys’, the latter act served as backup vocalists and dancers for eight songs of the concert, replacing Yang Hyun Suk, now the head of YG Entertainment, and Lee Juno as Seo’s Boys for the night. During the show, Seo acknowledged BTS’ thematic similarities to his music and their place as one of K-pop’s most globally-renowned acts.
“This is your generation now,” declared Seo addressing BTS, reports the Seoul Economic Daily.
Throughout his career, there have been a variety of reiterations of Seo that have led to his reputation as a leader of cultural trends in South Korea. Seo pursued rock music early in his career, and became a member of the metal band Sinawe before forming Seo Taiji & Boys in the early ’90s, during which he served as the frontman and primary songwriter of the genre-blending crew. The trio made history beginning in 1992, with hit after hit resonating with South Korea’s audience and igniting the trend for youthful, dance oriented music from performance-focused groups. Following the act’s breakup in 1996, Seo returned to his rock leanings in 1998 and has since released nine studio albums, including his most recent album, 2014’s Quiet Night.
Despite being recognized as the start of the idol music trend, much of Seo’s music, both as a soloist and while in Seo Taiji & Boys, has veered towards alt-rock, electro-pop, and nu-metal. His legacy spans generations in the country, where he’s also considered one of the first forerunners of popular music that criticized the South Korean government and addressed societal ills, resulting to being one of the most-censored musicians of his generation.