Beenzino’s 12 is almost not a hip hop album. Musically, the Korean rapper’s first full length record is on par with neo-soul or even indie. Yet, it still seethes that ‘you better listen coz you’re about to be served the best’ attitude that screams hip hop.
Following his 2012 “mini-album” 24:26, and 2014 EP Up All Night, Beenzino continues to audaciously represent his everyday life in a way so honest and charming, you’re inclined to believe him.
Alongside travelling (props to I Don’t Mind’s Australia shout out) and time, uniqueness is the biggest theme of the record.
Even with the whole language barrier thing, it’s hard to miss the message when he raps in English “I’m unique, so unique, I’m so busy I’m being myself” on guitar heavy Being Myself.
But he didn’t really need to spell it out so clearly; the cohesion of his flow with the unconventional beats borrowing from a range of genres, does it already.
You’re reminded of his Illionaire link on the trap inclined January, and cruise though the Tame Impala-esque progressions and synths on We Are Going To.
Yet, Beenzino’s producers, long time (Peejay) and new (Genius Nochang), work well to craft a sleek and coherent sound overall.
Even the three-year-old single Dali, Van, Picasso fits well with the overall feel of the record.
And real life sound effects of a clock ticking on the gentle Imagine Time, or groovy토요일의 끝에서 ‘s lighter chink, are a nice touches, adding even more to the record’s testament of realness.
The three collaborations are evenly spaced (like for realz) throughout the record to break it up. It’s especially nice to see Blacknut finally rap alongside his hero on토요일의 끝에서.
But honestly, the collaborations work more effectively to signal Beenzino’s distinct melodic flow.
On 12 Beenzino takes a step away from his jazzy roots to create something simultaneously unexpected, and something that makes complete sense. It’s a solid first full length effort for Korea’s favourite rapper.
In a word: progressive
Listen: We Are Going To