The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Dynamic Duo revisits its 20 year history with '2 Kids on the Block'

Legendary hip-hop duo vows to continue making easy hip-hop for wider audiences

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : March 28, 2024 - 08:01

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Dynamic Duo's Gaeko (left) and Choiza (Amoeba Culture) Dynamic Duo's Gaeko (left) and Choiza (Amoeba Culture)

Gaeko and Choiza, the two members of Korea's legendary hip-hop duo, Dynamic Duo, are not only irreplaceable musical partners but also old friends who have spent more than 30 years together, having known each other since elementary school.

Celebrating the 20th year of the group’s debut, the two looked back on their long history together with their 10th studio album, “2 Kids On The Block.”

"We first met when we were 12, and it's safe to say that there was no hip-hop in Korea back then. We didn’t have enough money, so we bought one LP or album and listened to it together, sharing our unusual tastes in music," Choiza recalled.

"At that time, most students danced to popular Korean songs at talent shows, but we wrote a rap and performed it, imitating American rappers. And then we ended up getting scolded by the teachers," added Gaeko.

The new album chronicles how the two boys became Korea's best-known hip-hop act, Dynamic Duo. Part one and part two of the album were pre-released last June and August, respectively, and the final part which wraps up the entire album came out Thursday, completing the Dynamic Duo chronicle.

“2 Kids On The Block” begins with "Intro," which features the voice of actor Lee Byung-hun. Like a movie prologue, Lee narrates how two hip-hop-loving boys are still pursuing their passions, inviting listeners into the story of Dynamic Duo. After 10 songs that show the music and story of the group, including “19,” “Pied Pipers,” and “Dramatic,” the title song "PITAPA" concludes the track list. “PITAPA,” which means pizza, tacos and pasta, contains Dynamic Duo's ambition to expand its spectrum to reach a wider audience, and ultimately to be loved like those universally loved dishes.

"We chose ‘PITAPA’ as the title track because it talks about our future. We looked back on our history through 11 tracks, so it felt right to make a song about our present and future as a title track. We didn’t want to talk only about the past," said Gaeko. He added that “PITAPA” is suitable as a title track as it is the song with the most bright and positive energy.

While 2024 is special, as it is the year the duo wrapped up their 10th full-length album, last year was also a big year for Dynamic Duo.

The song "AEAO," released in 2014, resurfaced on social media and topped several music charts across Asian countries. "SMOKE," which was used on Mnet's “Street Woman Fighter 2,” also received tremendous attention thanks to the dancers' colorful choreography, and was named one of the 25 best K-pop songs of 2023 on the American Billboard.

"I genuinely thought that we were lucky guys. We didn't have any particular hit songs in recent years but we received so much love all of a sudden. We were so thrilled that we worked harder than ever," said Gaeko.

However, even though they had a wonderful year, the duo said that they are still clueless about how to produce successful songs or how to be free from anxiety about success.

“The listeners might not want us all of a sudden. But we agreed not to retire until we are forced to leave,” said Gaeko, laughing.

Gaeko stressed that the music industry landscape has changed a lot. “In the past, audiences would pay attention to the title song if an artist dropped a new album, but now we can never know which song will become famous. We should believe that if we diligently continue to make music as if sowing seeds, people will listen to our music at some point.”

Choiza said that even celebrating the duo's 20th anniversary came as a surprise to him. "Of course, I had hoped to celebrate the 20th year of our music career, but it was hard to imagine it happening. Even when our song was a huge hit, I never stopped worrying about whether we could release another album next year."

As one of the first-generation hip-hop groups, the two members agreed that the status of hip-hop has changed so much in the last two decades, but humbly denied they have played a key role in the growth of the Korean hip-hop scene. Dynamic Duo’s music is more about easy, friendly hip-hop that everyone can enjoy, the duo explained.

“I don’t think we contributed to deepening the quality of Korean hip-hop, but we did make hip-hop more familiar and easy. We always struggled to make easy-listening songs that even my mother would be able to enjoy,” said Choiza.

Gaeko agreed that the duo’s strength comes from the approachable quality of their rap which talks about themes that everyone can sympathize with. "We believe every listener should easily understand what we're trying to say. It is more important than using fancy skills. That's the color of Dynamic Duo. Rather than aiming for success, I want to continue with the music we do well."

Dynamic Duo's Choiza (left) and Gaeko (Amoeba Culture) Dynamic Duo's Choiza (left) and Gaeko (Amoeba Culture)