For International fans of Korean hip-hop, the label H1GHR MUSIC is likely to be a familiar name. Hosting artists such as Sik-K, pH-1, and Golden (all of whom boast impressive international followings), ensemble of artists are staples of the scene’s global expansion efforts, aided by guidance from the Korean-American mogul Jay Park. Yet, despite sold out tours and tangible evidence that the fan support is rising for those under the H1GHR MUSIC umbrella, CEO Park is refusing to rest on his laurels.
The next step: A compilation album, consisting of two parts; the Red Tape, and the Blue Tape. It may not sound an exciting move (truthfully, it isn’t one), but there are at least a couple of notable things that a record of this ilk can provide. Firstly, it’s a surefire showcase of the talent the label has available. By featuring every available artist possible on each track, whether in a production, instrumental or vocal role, audiences have no choice but to hear the work of those who may not necessarily be a household name such as Sik-K, or Jay Park himself. Of course, it could be argued that the lesser-known acts who will be heard across the 14+ tracks could just receive slots as supporting acts, or guests, at a live show, but with the option to just turn up freely for who you wish to see at a concert and skip the openers, having the likes of feature on songs is a much smarter, and more concrete ways of going about business.
Secondly, and most importantly for this piece, it shows intent. When wanting to truly branch out into becoming a global force, creating a collection of songs aimed at highlighting the strengths of each signee to the most minute degree is an extremely clever move. In this instance, the intent of this highlighting is clear: world domination. It may seem ambitious (no surprise in that sense that Jay Park, one of the more ambitious men in the industry, is involved), but it’s a clear message, and one they will be hoping translates to more than just fans who are already along for the ride.
The question is, are they ready to take over the world? Sure, their talented ensemble are more than just flash-in-the-pan upstarts who fail to pack even an ounce of creativity into their material, but what makes the stars of H1GHR MUSIC, but what makes this talented ensemble so prepared to tackle a notoriously difficult global market to crack?
Technically, one can’t quite measure the readiness, as that is up to the artist, or label, to decide for themselves. But to hazard a guess, Park and co. are more than able to step into the limelight in a larger capacity, and prove to worldwide audiences what they can offer.
Why? Well, the evidence is already there. In early 2019, Sik-K sold out intimate venues across Europe, Australia and America. Before the pandemic this year, pH-1 was set to do the same. Even earlier back, promotional H1GHR MUSIC events were selling out in musical hotbeds across the US, proving that the traction, and word-of-mouth, was there for the developing brand. Additionally, international streaming metrics are up for most artists under the H1GHR umbrella, further cementing evidence which shows the longevity of these acts.
But, before we finish, what about the music itself? It’s fine having the statement of intent, and the growing statistics to suggest now is the time to pull the trigger on such a sweeping project, but if the quality lacks, then what is the point? Fortunately, despite its clear mainstream-driven, trap influenced production, there are no questions over the standards set by the pre-released singles. “Cypher,” in its brooding trap aura and lyrically brazen mentality, dismantles the domestic rap scene and scathingly proves their collective worth as a hot commodity. Even “How We Rock,” a more radio-friendly, modestly boastful cut, has a charm a lot of other music fails to provide, shifting in melodic style to suit whichever artist has the vocal reigns.
Ergo, with their compilation project, H1GHR MUSIC are ready to step up as staples of the hip-hop expansion, and will firmly mark themselves as a crew worth taking note of.