Temperature reached a new height in Korea’s hip hop community these last few days from multiple “diss song” crossfires. Sparked by a disgruntled member of now disbanded Supreme Team, a storm of rappers started releasing songs on behalf of “better standards” of the hip hop scene and sometimes revealing old beef. At the center is Amoeba Culture, the agency that houses Dynamic Duo, Primary, and Zion. T. It formerly represented Supreme Team, but currently only represents Simon D since the break up in July. Below is a timeline of events that have shaped what is known online as “hip hop diss war.”
August 12. Big Sean drops “Control” with a verse by Kendrick Lamar naming several hip hop artists.
A common thread shared by these Korean hip hop artists is their original inspiration, a verse from “Control” by Kendrick Lamar that is considered “wake-up call to arms” in the American hip hop scene. Lamar specifically dedicates a whole line on role calling a list of names and then blasting them. He quickly received angry response tracks one by one in the subsequent days.
August 22. E-Sens releases “You Can’t Control Me” on his Twitter targeting Gaeko and Amoeba Culture
E-Sens reflects upon the poor state of the hip hop scene in Korea. He also accuses Gaeko of being fake and a sellout, while describing his treatment during and after his contract with Amoeba Culture. He leaves Simon D out of the song, and there is no mention of Supreme Team. The play count is over 1 million on Soundcloud.
August 23. Swings releases “King Swings Part 2” targeting Ugly Duck and Simon D
Swings doesn’t waste time going straight to angry name calling. He accuses Simon D of also selling out at the expense of his partner, E-Sens. His track is much longer because he devotes the second half in a shoutout to his English-speaking listeners. He seems more conciliatory toward the end, wishing for a better world for hip hop. He ends his track with “Peace.” (not good-bye peace)
August 24. Gaeko releases “I Can Control You” responding to E-Sens
Gaeko opens his track addressing the controversial marijuana incident that surrounded E-Sens last year. Other mentions of his marijuana use are scattered throughout the song, pointing out his selfishness, immaturity, and unprofessionalism.
August 25. Simon D releases “Control” responding to Swings, E-Sens releases “True Story” responding to Gaeko, more rappers release their renditions of “Control”
Simon D details his lucrative but uncomfortable position under Amoeba Culture in relation to E-Sens. He doesn’t believe that E-Sens attacked him in “You Can’t Control Me.” He accuses Swings of using his name to get to the top and how the new school tends to stick to the bigger name (himself).
E-Sens does not mention the greater good of hip hop anymore as his rebuttal is filled with bitter details under his 1 billion KRW contract. Gaeko and his sister are now known to the public as bigger decision makers in the company, who allegedly drove him out and swindled him out of his profit.
Other rappers, Diz’one, Skandalous, Deffinite, Nuttyverse, E.via, surface with their own versions of “Control.” They resist explanation for the way current state of hip hop is run, telling the companies and fans to let them have their fun.
August 26. Swings releases “New World (King Swings Part 3)” responding to Simon D
Swings reminisces on the old days when Simon D were working together, also reflecting on how Simon D has changed over the years. He’s more in touch with his real fans, including ones coming from Simon D’s own hometown. He again wants the best for Korean hip hop.
August 27. E-Sens posts an ambiguous picture on Twitter, Swings’ agency announces that he will no longer release any more “diss” songs
In what seems to be up to interpretation, the picture shows both E-Sens and Simon D back in their Supreme Team days before Amoeba Culture. E-Sens is seen posing for a camera with his fans while Simon D bitterly walks away. Netizens have interpreted this as another “diss” to Simon D or as a sign of nostalgia for the good old days.
The artists’ respective agencies revealed that they will play no role in these battles. A staff from Amoeba Culture said that “they were discussing the matter” and requested patience for their official announcement. Celebrities outside the line of fire have also put in their two cents. Jay Park tweeted on August 22, “Korean hip hop is on fire thanks to Kendrick Lamar!!! Sh*t!!! What do you guys think!!!!” Zion.T commented, “I miss the days I shook hands with all of them. It’s depressing.” Both Jaurim and Tarae expressed their desires for this “diss war” to end. “Don’t fight,” tweeted Tarae.
Too many strong words have been used throughout this phenomenon to be a big publicity stunt. Is this intended as a malicious attack on Amoeba Culture or an earnest wish to bring Korean hip hop scene up to the next level?