In Korea, the gap between the mainstream and underground hip-hop scenes can be wide. Underground rappers can freely rap about provocative and political topics, but such sensitive content is usually restricted in mainstream media. The difference between the two fields inevitably develops into arguments over the authenticity of hip-hop in the pop scene. Idol rappers naturally become the target of some underground rappers, as Zico is well aware. In the past, the Block B leader has been accused of faking hip-hop for money and taking advantage of his large fandom in the underground scene. However, he shrugs off all the hostile comments and proves himself as a genuine hip-hop musician in his second solo album Television
Zico takes listeners Behind the Scene (Track 1) and shows how his music is produced. He honestly admits that he is not a genius but just a hard-working man creating songs like a graceful swan paddling frantically underwater. The synth-laced bassline and uncanny vocal harmony provide a mystical backdrop, forming a compelling contrast with Zico's assertive rap. The energetic vibe simmers down to a mysterious outro played on piano and glockenspiel that echoes the futuristic opening.
Labelled as an idol, Zico may not be recognized as a real artist by some. However, the carefree rapper obviously doesn't take it seriously because no one can judge if he is an artist except himself. Zico demonstrates the innovative spirit of an Artist in the second track, a quirky bouncy song that fuses jazz and hip-hop. Despite the mismatching styles in different parts, the song flows smoothly without an obvious transition.
Putting himself in his haters' shoes, Zico generates a dark sinister sound in the self-deprecating Anti (Track 3). Singing in an omniscient tone, G.Soul brings the antagonists to life in the opening chorus: "You can't fool me / I've seen you behind the scenes / I'll remove all your makeup / And tell the world all your lies / Why do I hate." The rapper doesn't reply to his anti-fans' criticisms but his pressure in the spotlight can be felt in the cutting lyrics: "Your good acts will be carved on sand / Your mistake will be carved on rocks."
With his remarkable crossover skills, Zico manages to expand the spectrum of hip-hop, and his hard work should be valued. Featuring various self-aware songs, Television is an impressive record that allows both his supporters and haters to see him in a new light.