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Hip-hop, rap take top trophies at KMAs

Hip-hop and rap showed their strength at the 13th Korean Music Awards held Monday at the Guro Arts Valley Theatre in Seoul.

Rapper E Sens was the most surprising win of the night, grabbing album of the year for last year‘s “The Anecdote.” 

The largely autobiographical 10-track album was received with enthusiasm by both rap fans and critics alike, despite the artist being imprisoned for illegal drug use. E Sens is due to be released in October. “The Anecdote” also won best rap and hip-hop album honors.

Artist of the year went to rapper Deepflow, whose song “Jakdu” also picked up a trophy for best rap and hip-hop song. 

Rapper Deepflow speaks after winning awards for the Artist of the Year and best rap and hip-hop song at the 13th Korean Music Awards in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Rapper Deepflow speaks after winning awards for the Artist of the Year and best rap and hip-hop song at the 13th Korean Music Awards in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, Big Bang was honored with song of the year for “Bae Bae” from their “M” EP last year, as well as best pop song for “Loser” from the same EP and the netizen’s choice award.

Four-member band Hyukoh were the only rock musicians to take a top award, recognized as rookies of the year. 

This year’s Korean Music Awards added a new award for the heavy metal genre, termed the “best heaviness album.” The honor went to thrash metal band Method.

The Korean Music Awards, which were first awarded in 2004, were conceived as an alternative to the sales and fan vote-driven systems that dominate most other music awards in Korea. Winners are selected by a panel of music critics, producers and music reporters who judge the works based on musicality alone. The awards cover the rap and hip-hop, rhythm, blues and soul, jazz, folk, modern rock, pop and rock genres. 

The only prizes awarded through public voting are the netizens’ choice awards given to the most popular male artist, female artist and group. This year’s winners were Park Jin-young, IU and Big Bang.

Although the Korean Music Awards’ judging system is often compared to that of the Grammys in the U.S., most of the songs that received recognition at the KMAs did not make the major charts throughout the year -- in contrast to the commercial success many Grammy-nominated songs enjoy before being chosen for consideration.  

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)
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