The elitist nature of some Korean Hip-Hop fans
This is a topic that is often discussed but never gone into enough for my liking and over the years it has become something that has bugged me more and more as a fan of Korean hip-hop. It often comes up in online posts and discussions that fans of underground hip-hop music find it annoying when their favourite rappers get to a point at which their music is appreciated by a wider market of people i.e. fans of K-pop. And whenever this discussion crops up I see hundreds of comments calling for them to go back to where they belong and stop stealing and ruining good artists.
But I always fail to understand why this is an acceptable response. For instance when Tablo released his solo albums and they outsold many K-pop albums released at the same time many fans called for him to stop ‘selling out’ and to ‘return to his proper roots’. However I never saw this as him selling out, I saw it as him adapting his music in a way that was true to himself but would open the gates to allow a wider demographic to enjoy his work, which is not something that can be condemned.
I noticed a long time ago that you will often get fans of underground hip-hop that are very elitist in their views of the genre. In some of these touchy fans’ eyes, artists should stick to what they know and only make changes to their music that their current fans will enjoy. If little changes are made that are viewed as unacceptable or that attract fans outside of their set demographic they are seen to be selling out. If an artist’s changes their style and it gets glances from K-pop fans that suddenly begin to refer to them as ‘bias’ they are also seen to have done wrong. How dare you have a look that has caught the eye of someone outside of the underground loop?
But this begs me to ask the question, what is wrong with K-pop fans discovering, and even enjoying, underground music? So what if you go online from time to time and see images of your favourite underground rappers edited in the same way that you would see an idols image edited? Who cares if K-pop fans are now debating who is better looking between Beenzino and Huckleberry P? As fans should we not be accepting of other fans? Should we not be happy that artists that were more often than not overlooked and ignored are now finally getting the attention and recognition they deserve?
Of course this is not just something that applies to underground hip-hop fans. No this is something that could be applied to many fans and situations. Any fan could be called an elitist and by simply believing that you are superior to other fans you can be tarred with the same brush. This is not a shocking response. As humans we always aim to find a place where we will belong, something to be a part of and a thing that will help us to meet those who are like-minded. But we also aim to be unique and to stand out from the crowd. This is how some fans of underground hip-hop feel: special. So when mainstream androids come along and stake a claim to the very thing that has made them feel so special they become territorial and revert to behaviour that is commonly found amongst children. The ‘my toy’ routine.
However, I feel, as a fan myself, that there should be no limitation on what an underground fan should be. As long as you love and appreciate the music and the work and heart that each of the artists put into it then I don’t care who you are, what else you love or what you do. A fan is a fan, and no fan is better than another.
Do you agree with this or do you have another take? Let us know in the comments.