Artist of the week – Lee Ssang
Real name : Kang Hee-gun
Date of birth : February 24th, 1978
Physique : 174cm, 63kg
Education : Department of Security Services, Yongin University
Talents : Sports
Real name : Gill Seong-joon
Date of birth : December 24th 1977
Our featured artist this week is hip-hop duo Leessang. Leessang is a 2-member rap band made up of Gary and Gill, ex-member of Honey Family. Avoiding the strong and aggressive style, Leessang pursues a relaxing and flexible rap in which the rhythms are alive. Humor and wit, and the utilization of a retrospective sound are the strong point of the rap duo.
The duo first was created in 2002. The members of Leessang first put their feet in the show biz by participating as guest rappers for a band called Exteen in 1997. In 1999, the members of the duo joined a hip-hop crew called Honey Family. Gary and Gill participated in the production of two albums with Honey Family, “A Man’s Story” and “Another Level.” The two rappers showed off a unique style of melodic rap with the band. When there was a lull in Honey Family’s performing activities, Gary and Gill separated from the band to start performing as a duo.
Under the name of Leessang, the two rappers released their first album in 2002. Accompanied by some top figures of the local pop music scene including Park Hwayobi, Jung-in, Park Seon-joo and Bubble Sisters, Leessang displayed a fantastic harmony of rapping in their first album. Almost all the words of Leessang’s rap were written in Korean showing the essences of a so-called ‘indigenous hip-hop.’ Acknowledged for their talents in hip-hop music, Leessang was invited by Seo Taiji to the '2002 ETPFEST.'
Leessang's 1st and 2nd albums received good reviews but did not produce any major hits. The duo finally had a breakthrough on their 3rd album in late 2005. The timing was perfect for Leessang's release, as they have avoided competitions from mega stars who had released their albums earlier and had gone on to year end award shows in December. The promotional efforts of the title song "I'm not smiling" was also intense as Leessang determined to crossover to mainstream. As a result, Leessang successfully stole the No. 1 spot with "I'm not smiling" in late December 2005 and early January 2006. Then they followed up with another top 10 hit "Clown".
In 2007, Leessang released their 4th album "Black Sun". Already an established artist now, Leessang has no trouble winning fans from mainstream to underground. Their title song "Ballerino" is again climbing up the chart and reaching the top 5.
There are many crossover hip-hop artists in Korean Music these days. Leessang is unique in the fact that their music is not very hardcore. Their laidback style actually fits the need of mainstream k-pop listeners. They will continue to produce hit songs and winning more fans.
Leessang of Honey Family (1st album, 2002) : Yes OK, Rush, Life is Beautiful, Luv…Real Story
재, 계발(再啓發) (2nd album, 2003) : Fly High, Spain, Slow Down, Leessang Blues, Alcohol Man
Leessang (special album with Jungin, 2004) : Sad Song, Rush, 7477[Ma Frenz]
Library of Soul (3rd album, 2005) : I’m Not Smiling, Urban Cycle, Clown, Never Never Say Good-bye, Outsider
Black Sun (4th album, 2007) : Ballerino
Credits: KBS World, edward1849