From Jinusean to 2NE1, G-Dragon breaks down his favorite tracks from past and present YG Entertainment labelmates.
This feature is part of Complex's Coup D'Etat Week with G-Dragon.
Of the three companies that dominate Korean pop—SM, JYP, and YG—it is the music of YG Entertainment that is most likely to sound familiar to American ears. Founded in 1996 by Yang Hyun-suk, former member of seminal pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, YG has always emphasized hip-hop and R&B as its musical foundation. From the start, the company enlisted Korean-American musicians, like early hitmaker Perry, to produce tracks that were in line with stateside trends, thus staying ahead of the curve in the domestic market.
It was the flashy music videos and aggressive rap singles of the late ’90s and early aughts by YG artists like Jinusean and 1TYM that initially attracted a young G-Dragon to the label. In 2006, YG further evolved as a K-pop powerhouse when GD debuted as the leader of influential boy band Big Bang, followed three years later by girl group 2NE1. And, of course, longtime YG artist PSY brought his label international recognition last summer with the explosion of “Gangnam Style.”
All of these international hits are no accident—YG is known for granting more freedom to its artists than rival K-pop powerhouses, creating space for a unique talent like GD to grow. So, to get a window into G-Dragon’s musical upbringing and the history of his label, here are G-Dragon’s Favorite Songs from YG Entertainment.
As told to Jaeki Cho (@jaekicho)