K-pop is largely responsible for bringing the Korean music scene to the forefront and becoming one of the biggest genres of music in the world. Although PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and Keith Ape’s “It G Ma” are two examples of Korean songs to blow up in the US, Korean music has struggled to gain popularity in America. Even though the language barrier takes away a major part of the listening experience for the American audience, artists such as PSY and Keith Ape have been able to become superstars in the US by providing extreme and bizarre content. However, Korean R&B artist Zion. T has brought a refined approach to his music with his latest EP, OO.
Zion. T’s sound is undeniably smooth and melodic amongst the company of plain and uniform K-pop singers of today. Zion. T is good at making hit records while still producing high quality instrumentals and above average lyrics. OO begins with “Cinema”, a song that shows off the production quality on the EP with a playful, almost Venetian guitar melody that creates a beautiful balance between Zion. T’s voice and the instrumental. The lyrics are metaphorically creative, comparing his feelings for a girl to watching a romance movie, and for what is a pretty traditional love song, Zion. T adds more flare on this track than one would expect.
The third song on the EP “Comedian” is another good track that comes after a rather underwhelming and washy second track, “The Song”. “Comedian” is short and to the point, only two minutes long, but lyrically transparent to Zion. T’s true emotions. The song acts almost as an interlude where he speaks rather than sings to the audience. The next song “Sorry” featuring (Beenzion) continues a reconciling sound on the EP. The song is upbeat and cheerful for a song about apologizing, which is ironic but overall pleasing to the ear. This track continues a small narrative that this album attempts to tell and keeps the listener interested as to what’s coming next.
The final two songs on OO are “The Bad Guys” and “Complex” (featuring G-Dragon) and they are two great concluding tracks. “The Bad Guys” has a jazz inspired instrumental and the lyrics parallel richness in money to being rich in love. At this point in the project Zion. T has creatively found a way to bring his narrative back towards the beginning, telling the girl that he was originally apologizing to that he will treat her better. “Complex” concludes the narrative as Zion. T explains that he’s complicated and only has good intentions. He also incorporates a humorous chorus into this last track by saying he is “more complex than the magazine.”
Despite having to follow along with translated lyrics, OO was an enjoyable project to listen to. The love narrative that builds throughout the EP is captivating and only on “The Song” does it lose some of its traction and consistency. The highlight of the project has to be the balance between the high quality instrumentals and Zion. T’s smooth vocals. His lyrical transitions from verse to chorus are thoughtful and logical. Zion. T has the potential to be the artist to break through in America and bring a new wave of Korean music to the forefront. However, while his EP is great in many ways it still can’t compete with the depth of the US’s R&B contemporaries in terms of lyrics, production, and more emotional subject matter.