Bridging the gap

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 7, 2012 - 20:15
  • Updated : Aug 8, 2012 - 09:23
Artists use collab album to bring foreign, Korean hip-hop together

If you ask hip-hop artists Pinnacle TheHustler and Rah K how they met, you get two very different answers.

“I remember like it was yesterday. It was a sandy beach. The sky, it was like the sunset was coming down. The sky, it was almost as if a rainbow melted into the horizon. … And then I just saw him,” Pinnacle TheHustler said, motioning with his hands as he spoke.

Rah K, a Korean-Canadian rapper, just laughed and interrupted, saying he was invited by a friend onto Pinnacle’s radio show on TBS eFM upon the release of his first single.
Pinnacle TheHustler (bottom) and Rah K (Top) are set to release their joint album “Planet Beyond” on Aug. 10.

At that first meeting, Pinnacle TheHustler said he was an emcee, a claim Rah K seemed dubious about -- until he checked out some of his stuff on the Internet.

“This friend that put me on the show told me to search him on YouTube. So I did. And I was --” he glanced at Pinnacle, “I don’t want him to hear this. I was pretty surprised. He’s pretty good.”

At first the two teamed up for business reasons. Rah K works for Beyond Records while Pinnacle TheHustler is CEO of his own company, Planet Hustle. Rah K helped land Pinnacle a spot at Green Groove Festival and it wasn’t long before the two became friends.

“I decided to work with Rah K because the most important thing to me is the relationship. If I can’t vibe with you or connect with you on a personal level, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to work with you,” Pinnacle TheHustler said.

The two began talking about “Planet Beyond” in January of this year and officially began work on it in February in coordination with producers Brass and J Lee from Beyond Records.

The collaborative album, which drops on Aug. 10, is an official release and will be available on all Korean online music stores such as Melon as well as iTunes. It will also be available in record stores across Korea.

It’s a first for Pinnacle.

“Just the fact that it’s being officially released, that’s the biggest point for me. Because usually when I finish a project, I just say, ‘Go here and download it. Let me know what you think. Thanks.’ Now it’s like, ‘Yo, I don’t care where you download it, it’s going to be there,’” he said.

They describe the album as being about that moment when you hit the zone -- whether you’re an athlete, performer, or writer -- and you’re on a different planet.

“You are no longer wherever you are physically. You’re not there anymore,” Pinnacle said. “You’ve gone beyond.”

Rah K said the two put a lot of personal thoughts into the songs, especially into one of the title songs, “Dear God.”

“It’s like our prayer. Basically we’re trying to develop lyrically these thoughts that are surpassing time and space. It’s our personal thoughts, it’s not anywhere in this world. It’s within us,” he said.

They describe the sound as something completely different, with every track having its own distinct feeling and flow. “Dear God” has a dark and moody tone, backed by an electric guitar and the powerful vocals of Shin Ji-hyun, a contestant on Voice Korea.

The second title song, “Just Like Gin,” is much happier and lighter. Pinnacle described it as a song you listen to when you’re getting ready to go out for the night and “get retarded.”

But the project wasn’t without its difficulties. Schedules were busy and difficult to coordinate. Rah K has a full load with his classes at KAIST MBA School in Seoul. He’s currently studying IT and media. Pinnacle TheHustler has a radio show from 10 p.m. to midnight every night.

On top of that, producer J Lee is located in Vancouver, Canada. The duo said they would go into the studio, get the files ready and send them off. Then Lee would mix them and send them back, at which point they would critique the track and send it back with whatever directions they had to change the track.

“We got J Lee to mix ‘Dear God’ like 11 times,” Rah K laughed.

“We really did. He was like, ‘You jerk.’ But it’s the title song. It had to be perfect,” Pinnacle added.

According to the two artists, J Lee is happy with the track now.

Both said that they hope this album can help act as a bridge between Korean underground and foreign hip-hop in Korea.

“In the Korean underground hip-hop music scene, Korean people don’t know there’s a foreign niche market where people are doing music,” Rah K said. “I kind of wanted to make this link between Koreans in Korea and foreigners in Korea.”

He went on to say that he felt musicians in the hallyu industry were not fully representative of Korea, and that he, as a Korean-Canadian in Korea, and Pinnacle, as an African-American in Korea, could also be representatives of Korea.

“I want this album to kind of be a starting point for second generation Koreans and foreigners to enter into the music industry in Korea, to represent Korea,” he said.

Pinnacle TheHustler said he has been working to bridge the gap between Koreans and foreigners through Planet Hustle all along. He said some areas the bridge is closer, but in others it’s farther.

“And it certainly will be rewarding if that’s something that can be accomplished,” he said.

“Planet Beyond” officially drops at all Korean music retailers on and offline, and iTunes, on Aug. 10. The music video to "Dear God" can be viewed on YouTube here: .

By Emma Kalka (