Artist Spotlight – Primary
This artist spotlight doesn’t so much feature an artist per se, more a super producer. Primary can be seen as the Korean equivalent of Mark Ronson with his work featuring key artists in the Korean Hip Hop scene.
With a smooth and jazzy sound, he brings so much soul to the hip hop community. His beats hark back to the kind of old school hip hop in America in the late 1990’s with artists featuring jazz samples in their songs. However his work has a modern sound with a big band twist. Of course this jazzy and smooth nature has seen him gain critical acclaim with even legendary producer Quincy Jones speaking highly of his work.
One thing that is very noticeable when he performs is the mask. Yes this box beak has become a symbol and he never takes it off even when performing live. This box provides him with anonymity and the ability for people to focus on just his music.
In image conscious Korea, this must be a welcome break for him. He doesn’t have to worry about having the ‘perfect’ look and can live a normal life as no one (expect those close to him) knows what he looks like. Granted the hip hop scene isn’t as akin to the image pressures found in their k-pop cousins.
Primary has been under the label Amoeba Culture since 2008 and the label is also home to Dynamic Duo, Zion T and others. He works with his label mates whilst also reaching out to others in the hip hop community such as Leesang and Paloalto.
In a sense Primary reminds us of what musicianship is. He takes live instruments and creates hip hop beats and they compliment each other. Furthermore he brings the focus not only on the beats but also on the vocal performance. As we all know you can have an amazing backing track but if the vocals fall short then the song is ruined.
Of course, he chooses rappers that fit in and add an urban edge to his music. The jazz sound is still prevalent but the hip hop edge adds a new dimension.
For me his best collaborations always involve Zion T (who is a great R&B singer with a sexy voice) and his work with Choiza (who is one half of hip hop group Dynamic Duo).
He recently released a new album titled ‘Primary and the Messengers’.
The first single of the album is titled ‘?’.
The song itself speaks of a guy who has fallen for a girl but is questioning himself about her. The video is simple and playful, we first see Choiza (in his very handsome suit) chasing after a girl and trying to get her attention. Once he has her attention he takes her to a restaurant for a date but soon discovers that she has a couple ring on. Couple rings are worn by both men and women in long term committed relationships, it is not a wedding ring but it lets other people know that they are off the market. It is also another way of showing love for your partner.
On a side note, Korea is big on outward signs of love, case in point couple outfits where couples match or wear identical outfit to show their devotion to each other. Back to the video, Choiza soon backs away and we see Zion T come back to be with his lady.
This simple but yet effective storyline and video fits Primary style as well. Although he uses big band sounds and jazz instruments he manages to marry them all together creating jazzy and relaxing sounds.
If you haven’t checked out his work, now is the time. He is definitely not one to be missed if you like you like your hip hop chilled and laid back.
Here are few more notable songs produced by this musical genius