BIG BANG’s leader G-Dragon has had much success as a soloist, beginning with ‘Heartbreaker’ back in 2009, ‘One of a Kind’ which was released over a year ago now, and after a very long-lasting and far-reaching solo tour that followed, you might think he would have taken a bit of a break – not so! Here’s a review on G-Dragon‘s second full-length solo album, Coup D’Etat which came in two parts. But does it deliver or disappoint?

1. Coup D’etat [쿠데타; Kudeta] (featuring Diplo and Baauer)

This is the namesake of the album and the first MV release, so you would think that G-Dragon would definitely go all out for it – and he did just that. The video has a very high production value and holds an awful lot of symbolism in its 3-and-a-half minutes. Much of it consists of hailing to fellow YG artists, but there is a lot more to it than just that. It would be foolish to go into it here as I could never do it the justice it deserves, but many of you eagle-eyed fans can probably already appreciate such creativity without my help!

The song itself is has a very slow tempo over a minimalistic electro soundtrack, G-Dragon has quite a droning vocal for the chorus which provides a good contrast to when his rap picks up the pace slightly. However, the entire song is not exactly upbeat at any point, which is quite jarring when you are used to the passion that often goes into much of G-Dragon’s songs. Perhaps he wanted to mirror the act of chanting in order to get the message of a revolution across and get the masses behind him, so to speak.

Something great about GD’s song-writing is his ability to be very clever with words and sayings and to also poke fun at himself. Lines like: “I’m so fresh, so clean, I compete with the laundry house” and “my flow so sick, keeps on going to the intensive care unit” have a really dry humour about them. The general message involves him pushing forth the idea that he is superior to the industry that he works for. Much like what was said in his song “One of a Kind” – he is savvy to how things work and is strong and talented enough to make it work for him.

Importantly, the hook-line “This is my Coup D’Etat” suggests that he is talking about a revolution that is personal to him rather than for a whole society. He is, perhaps, asserting that he has what it takes to work and do what needs to be done and doesn’t need anyone around to tell him what to do – separating himself from any company attachment.

2. Niliria (featuring Missy Elliott)

Perhaps I am missing something, but it is still unclear to me what Niliria actually means. That aside, this song is very hip-hop indeed, which is what you might expect from a something featuring one of the queens of the mainstream hip-hop genre. I have actually sensed a slight similarity between a few of GD’s songs and Missy Elliots’ in the past. Both of them have a craziness and often fun takes on what is usually taken as a very serious business by some.

As you might have expected, the lyrics consist of the rappers inflating their egos and talking of how they are better than most in their field. Each of them make quite a few references to each other’s’ past songs which is quite nice to hear. In almost every way this song is a standard rap song with its heavy beat and pretentious lyrics, however it is interesting to see the incorporation of a traditional Korean song in the mix around the start and the end which is an obvious reference to GD’s heritage.

3. R.O.D. (featuring Lydia Paek)

A relationship that has people’s head turning and how the girl and boy play with danger together. Most definitely a Bonnie and Clyde theme. The song starts off with a slight reggae beat and then speeds up when the singing kicks off. Lydia’s parts are all in English which will make sing a long rather easy and the choruses are very catchy I’m guilty of this I won’t lie. Also…that closing guitar riff is too cool.

4. Black (featuring Jennie Kim)

The first slow track on this album. I like it when GD slows it down and doesn’t go crazy with some cracktastic themes. An easy-listening song, talking about what happens to your heart after a break-up and how it goes black. The color of my heart is black. It was burnt to black, just like that I break glass whenever I feel like. And I look at my bloody hands and think, why am I like this. The vocals by YG’s Jennie Kim surprisingly blend with GD’s mellow rapping.

5. Who You? (니가 뭔데; Niga Mwonde)

A song where GD talks about a former girlfriend who keeps showing up in his life. He misses her, still loves her but also hates her. I like the jazzy approach in Who You? and think it could become a potential favourite for a live performance.

6. Shake the World (세상을 흔들어; Sesangeul Heundeuleo)

This song was actually featured on the teaser clips for the album and it caught my attention even then. The sound is kind of sporadic, but it has that constant beat underneath that many dance songs feature. The chorus is the kind that you cannot help but dance to and in many ways it is the classic party song, telling people to “Shake the World’ and trying to get everyone pumped. A lot of the lyrics are self-centred and ego-inflating yet again as GD sets himself apart from “fakers” and suggests that he has been “killing it since the beginning”. It is very upbeat and incredibly catchy.

7. MichiGo (미치Go)

This song was initially released solely on the Asian mobile social network platform ‘LINE’, which G-Dragon had become incredibly popular on. Again this song is all about going crazy and partying all night long. It has a heavy, dubstep-like sound to it and is very sporadic in its progression. GD’s rapping is fast and excited, which is just what you would expect from a song like this. There is a humorous attempt to cover an insult to his haters in the line: “Mother Father, who are you?” and the video is equally insane. It’s a generally good club track with a lot of attitude and punch!

8. Crooked (삐딱 하게; Ppiddak Hage)

A new rave song which I sometimes find myself waving my arms to in the same way as Crayon though nowhere near as crazily. Crooked works well for a party song because you might shout during the chorus and just jump up and down to let some steam off. What drew me to Crooked was how the lyrics talk about being angry and wanting to run away. Leave me alone. I was alone anyway. I have no one, everything is meaningless. Take away the sugar-coated comfort. And then the cruel twist where he asks for a little help near the end of the song, asking if you could be his friend and not realising how being alone would be hard. **In case you missed our music video breakdown for Crooked you can read it here**

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9. Niliria (G-Dragon version) (늴리리야)

This track may please those of us that are not such big fans of Missy Elliot, G-dragon has obviously added a few more Korean verses to compensate for Missy’s absence, but it essentially carries the same messages of ‘I’m better than you’.

10. Runaway

If you were getting tired of the hip-hop vibe, this song is definitely something different! It is more of a rock-pop kind of affair. It is very bouncy, but the lyrics tell of someone being tormented by a former love. This ex was clearly very clingy and perhaps did not go without a fight, so GD sings of feeling smothered by them and never wanting to see them again. Even when the persona has moved on and is in another relationship, they feel on edge that their clingy ex will jump out on them. This is quite a fun song despite the element of fear involved and what strikes me most is GD’s singing voice. He is so often rapping that it is quite refreshing to hear his lovely vocals. Many fans have already speculated that this song is directed towards G-Dragon’s Saesang fans, and when you see it from that point of view, it is quite hard to dispute it. That thought is quite entertaining in its own, strange way.

11. I Love It (featuring Zion.T and Boys Noize) (너무 좋아; Neomu Joh-a)

I can picture Zion. T, GD and Boys Noize all sitting in a booth and checking hot women out while they drink away. The song talks about a playboy spending the night with a woman. He’s complimenting the woman for her amazing physique and while they’re having sex he tells her not to ask who he is and just enjoy the moment. This is a subtly raunchy song when you’re reading the lyrics.

12. You Do (Outro)

This song’s message is absolutely wonderful. G-Dragon is essentially telling you to follow your dreams, telling you that you can do whatever you want to in life. He states that you are not him, but that you can be as successful as him if you desire it. It is kind of like a pep-talk for his listeners and when GD is so often telling others how good he is in his songs, it makes a quite nice change for him to tell others that they have the ability. I believe this song to be something for his fans; he is showing his love for them through his words of encouragement. It is quite a stripped back song with a simple and repetitive tune which makes it quite catchy and will undoubtedly put a smile on your face.

On the CD only

13. Window

A goodbye song for sure. But is it just after a secret one night stand? There’s mention of the rain hitting the window on a sunny day and somehow the rain has significance to washing the pain of the possible break-up and how the window hides the secret of this quiet night. GD doesn’t overpower his vocals here. He’s singing quietly, making the song have a more intimate feel.

14. Black (featuring Sky Ferreira)

Replacing Jennie Kim in this song is American singer songwriter Sky Ferreira and she sings the chorus in English which flows just as well as the original Korean version. I do wonder how this song would sound or whether it would attract a wider audience if GD sang his parts in English alongside Sky.

Overall:

Ting: Aside from GD’s passion for hip-hop, as the One Of A Kind EP showed, he also manages to present Coup D’Etat with other genres. There is a touch of jazz, pop ballad, rock and disco.

Holly: This album has been – and continues to be – incredibly successful in South Korea. G-Dragon has offered us a plethora of tracks in varying styles and genres, showing us yet again how talented he is. I always say that there is probably at least one of G-Dragon’s songs that everyone will appreciate as he is so often changing his genre quite vastly from song to song.

As a big G-Dragon fan myself though, I feel I must voice a slight dissatisfaction with the direction in which he is steering himself as an artist. GD seems to desperately want to appeal to the American market, and as a result is leaning more and more towards and Americanised hip-hop sound as time passes. I am quite a fan of some facets of the hip-hop industry, but I admittedly cannot stand the vulgar immodesty that is often found within it. We know you are talented and that you have a lot of money etc., so must you really constantly bat us in the faces with it through your songs? I am aware that this is all part and parcel of the genre, but that doesn’t make it sit any better with me personally.

G-Dragon is a talented song-writer, consistently able to amaze me with his ability to articulate deep emotional thoughts onto paper and I always love seeing him when he is silly and having fun as opposed to the uber-serious rapper all the time. I feel that his progression to America would lose him quite a few fans  if his music changed completely to suit what might be perceived as more ‘Western tastes’. Still, this album has a lot to offer, with very high production values and a good mix of songs that surely appeal to a wide audience.

UK Potential: 3.5/5.

With the Sky and Missy collabs this might catch the attention of fans here, especially if they happen to know who these ladies are and like their music. Crooked might do well with UK music fans if they recognise the East London features in the video. A possible downside could be GD’s overall “weirdness”, namely with the opening track Coup D’Etat. People might not get him unless they sit down and read the lyrics’ translations.

What are your opinions on this album?

Are you a fan or not so much?

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**Jan 2013 - Jan 2015** British Born Chinese who occasionally self-reflects. Has more Aegyo than she should for 'old' age status. LinkedIn / Review Blog