Who is Yang Hyun-suk?
Yang Hyun-suk is a South Korean rapper, dancer, record producer and music executive. Yang started his journey by being part of a band named Seo Taiji and Boys in the early 90s. Yang, met with the founding members of the band with some other purpose and not with an intention of joining them in their journey, but he got really inspired by the way the band approached music and he became a part of it in 1992. The group, after beginning its journey in South Korea, became one of the most successful music groups of all time in the country with chart-busting songs such as ‘Nan Arayo’. However, the group eventually got disbanded in 1996 due to some controversies that they had to face due to censorship laws. The members of the group went on their separate ways and Yang ended up establishing YG Entertainment in 1998 and ever since, YG Entertainment has become one of the most influential labels in the country. As the judge of TV reality shows, Yang has appeared in several seasons of ‘K-pop Star’, a South Korean music show that looks out for emerging talents.
Childhood & Early Life
Yang Hyun-suk was born in Seoul, South Korea, on 2nd December 1969 and was a troublesome kid. His older brother made an appearance on TV and shared some interesting things about Yang. Among those were the facts that he was obsessed with baseball and that he would often play around his house. Yang was considered notorious for breaking windows of the neighborhood houses. He would then receive a lot of flak from his parents, but never changed his ways, according to his brother.
Other than that, he loved music to the core, and would end up doing almost anything to attend the local concerts. Just around the time he was growing up, the American rap scene was emerging on the horizon and Yang became addicted to it. But due to his family being against it, he became depressed and sided with drugs for some time.
But other than that, he had quite a colourful childhood. But he always got himself into trouble and in one such incident, he stole handcuffs from a detective and had to go to a police station to get it removed from his hands. This curious nature of hisgrew with him, and he tried several things to do with his life. He eventually found out that music and dance were two things he liked the most.
In 1991, a musician named Seo Taiji approached Yang to learn from him, the art of dancing. Impressed by his musical skills, Yang expressed his interest to join Seo’s musical journey and thus, Seo Taiji & Boys was formed and with that began Yang’s music career.
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The group Seo Taiji and Boys had three Korean musicians, but they were not quite interested in playing the music which was popular at that time. They took a unique path and explored the western influenced themes in their music. Taiji was already a famed musician and the group started experimenting with different sounds. The result of their experimentation was a whole new sound which was an exciting mixture of native South Korean music and American hip hop beats.
MBC’s talent show in April 1992 gave the group a chance to showcase their skills and the trio performed amazingly well while playing their song ‘Nan Arayo’. The song received the lowest ratings by the judges and the group was heartbroken and doubted their decision of making music in this new genre. But the song eventually got out and turned out to be a mega success and is now known to have changed the face of South Korean music industry forever.
The song topped many music charts and became a rage in South Korea, owing to its catchy lyrics and chorus. The group soon became a recipient of the prestigious Golden Disc Award.
Excited with the humongous success of their debut effort, the group returned in 1993 with their second album ‘Hayeoga’, which again, became successful. This time around, the group went a step further with their experimentation and rather than sticking to the winning formula of their previous album, they went with rock styled music. They received another Golden Disc Award for their album. It eventually became the best-selling album in the South Korean music history.
But by this time, in a surprising move by the government, the band members were banned from appearing on a few television shows due to their piercings, along with dreadlocks and the ripped jeans which were their style statements.
Rising above this controversy, the group returned in 1994 with their third album ‘Kyoshil Idaeyo’, and once again, they somehow managed to be more innovative with their music and their lyrics. The music was more rock influenced and loud. The tunes were catchy enough for the songs to become dance anthems and the group ended up receiving their third Golden Disc Award in a row.
But this time, the controversy around them went darker and deeper and it had nothing to do with their attire. Some of the songs from the album such as ‘Kyoshil Idaeyo’ were heavily criticized by the elites of South Korea as according to them, they were highly critical of the South Korean education system. The band members were also accused of propagating satanic messages through their music, an allegation which was laughed off by the band.
However, it was now clear that Seo Taiji and Boys had to mellow down on their content, but they were in no mood to do so. Their next album titled ‘Sidae Yugam’ explored more controversial themes and ventured into the ‘Gangsta Rap’ territory. The lyrics were far more controversial this time around and the band was banned from concerting amidst public. Nevertheless, the album was a success but the band members shocked everyone by announcing their retirement from the music scene right at the peak of their career.
After disbanding the band, all the members went on their separate career paths and Yang established YG Entertainment. Under this new self-founded label, he released his first solo album, in which a song was composed by Seo Taiji. Since then YG Entertainment has come a long way to become one of the biggest entertainment companies in South Korea and has produced some successful artists such as PSY.
Since 2011, Yang has been a judge in the talent hunt show ‘K-pop Star’ and has also appeared in ‘Mix & Match’ as himself.
Yang Hyun-suk used to be known for his electric persona, both on and off stage and garnered a massive fan following due to this rebellious image.
Yang dated a fellow singer Lee Eun-ju for more than nine years, before finally admitting to the relationship in 2010. Lee is 12 years younger than him and the couple has two children, born in 2010 and 2012. The couple secretly got married in a private ceremony after she became pregnant with the first child.
As a kid, Yang was really close to his father despite their disagreements on several things and when he died in May 2017, Yang was saddened and expressed his pain through an emotional post on his social media page.