With the release of One Blood by Rude Paper, I figured it was as good a time as any to highlight one of their releases that I love, but neglected to write about. For their single “Don’t Believe” and the b-side, “Realise,” the hip-hop side project of singer-rapper Koonta and producer Real Dreamer took on the growing trend of dubstep and hip-hop that, to this day, is one of the few instances in Korean music where dubstep actually works, and remains so two years since the single’s release.
Inclusion of dubstep breaks was common for a couple of years and thankfully has died down, but rarely if ever has anyone used the dance music style as an integral part of the song. Not only that, but that inclusion was a gimmick to shake up the tired trend of electro-pop that reigned before that one. With the growth of dubstep over the years, hip-hop took it on, creating a raw and aggressive tone that I hadn’t seen in hip-hop in quite a while.
For their part, Rude Paper does not disappoint on “Don’t Believe.” The single is easy on the ears, with a simple beat structure that leads into two dubstep overlays. The effect is hard to follow, but not challenging. I first listened to this thinking the breaks were unnecessary, but realized they were integral. The lyrics, written by Rude Paper and Sean2slow, are about not believing everything around you, and the hectic nature of dubstep amplifies that message.
Things reach a pitch on the intense b-side, “Realise,” close to four minutes of dubstep and hip-hop (hip-step? Dub-hop?) madness. Koonta’s reggae delivery works wonders here, lending this life-is-hard track an ear-catching groove it willingly leaves out. The female-male call and response is processed to obscurity, with a pronounced reverb giving you the feeling Koonta is not delivering the lines to you, but to himself in an empty room, or just in his head. This odd mix of electronics and rap is the reason why dubstep works so well in hip-hop; the frantic reflections of the lyrics are heightened by the chaotic dance breaks. Dubstep also provides a raw and jagged edge, something Real Dreamer did perfectly on “Realise”.
Admittedly, dubstep is a gimmick for Rude Paper, as they haven’t dabbled in it since, but it doesn’t have to be a negative one. Rude Paper took the style and went into its aggressive side, pulling off a pair of songs that burn with heat. Using dubstep has been a losing game in Korea, but Rude Paper deserves praise for not only doing it twice, but perfectly.