Cover Korean rapper Bang Yongguk talks about his new album [2] (Photo: Consent)

Four years after his departure from K-pop group B.A.P, the hip-hop artist returns with a new EP. Here, he reflects on his journey since going solo

Bang Yongguk’s new album, [2], released in March, marks a departure from the dark, emotional hip-hop he’s known for—particularly in 2019’s Bangyongguk. Genres in [2] include pop, rock and electronica—and Bang says while the similar topics are covered in both albums, the new one offers an entirely different presentation. 

The 31-year-old started out as an underground rapper in 2008. He signed to TS Entertainment in 2010, releasing I Remember in 2011. A year later, he made his official debut in B.A.P as leader of the group. After six successful years in B.A.P., he became a solo artist in 2018, and also launched Consent, his independent record label, in 2021.

Read on to learn more about Bang’s inspiration behind his new sounds and how he has evolved as an artist.

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What’s special about this new album?

I talk about my realistic stories, [yet] with a contrasting concept of surrealism.

All my songs are related to each other. I tried to avoid a deep representation of my inner self in this album. They [the two albums] might talk about similar stories but in very different styles.

What’s the meaning behind the name [2]?

It means the second chapter of my life—or a “page-turning album”. 

It is also the first album to be released under my own label, so it means a lot.

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Tell us about the lead single, Up.

I tried to minimalise various instruments, vocals and sounds as much as possible in this track. I wanted to show something different, and it was quite fun to have my voice along with such minimal tracks.

Across six tracks, you cover topics like love, hate, joy and sadness. What was your inspiration?

When I make music, I write lyrics based on what I want to say. I wrote about feelings I have under a topic of life, which are represented as those topics of emotion.

The song Race, which was originally released in early 2021, is included in this new album. What’s the story behind that? 

Race was a track announcing that I’m continuing music to the world. With it, I could let everyone know that I’m back. I included the track as the last track in this EP to show my dedication to continuing to make awesome music.

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You started your own label, Consent, in 2021. What can you tell us about stepping into that new chapter?

There is nothing too different—I’m still on my own in many ways, and there can be pressure, but also fun. The label Consent is an important foundation [for me] as an artist and producer as I continue to prepare for new challenges.

Have you changed since you started out in 2008?

I don’t think much has changed when I look back at myself debuting with the 2011 song I Remember and releasing this recent EP. I wish to become an artist who doesn’t change, always holding his ground.

What would you like to improve on?

I have always thought, and still think, that I’m immature and wanted to become a better artist.

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Are you different as a solo artist, compared to your days in B.A.P?

I’m not really good with words, [so] when I was in the group, other members talked a lot for me. It is still weird to talk a lot for myself as a solo artist. Sometimes I miss their nonstop conversations.

What role does music play in your life? 

I have always thought of music as my everything, and it is the best tool to express myself. But sometimes I tell myself that I need to learn more new things. And I’m realising now that I have an interest in a variety of things.

I’m like a rock. I don’t change. Sometimes I do think it’d be good to change my life patterns or personality, but it’s not easy.

What do you hope listeners will get out of [2]?

I hope listeners feel close to me as an artist with this EP, and I also want to meet and communicate with many people through performing.

You can now listen to ‘[2]’ on Spotify.

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