Beenzino has been blowing up big time. Ever since debuting with 24:26, the third leg of 1llionaire Records has worked with so many people, from Hi Lite Records’ Okasian, Sean2slow, to big names like Verbal Jint, Dynamic Duo, and Lee Hyori. Seriously, the kid’s on fire, and he hasn’t released a second LP yet. Fucking bonkers. While working on his next album, he somehow found the time to work with label mates The Quiett and Dok2 for the collective record, 11:11, and release a concept EP with producer Peejay, aptly titled Up All Night.
Whoever he had in mind, Beenzino knew one thing going in: this character is obsessed with girls and partying. From the start, this guy is a horn dog with no remorse or shame to his game. “And I wonder if it’s pink? I wonder if it is Brazilian?” he rhapsodizes about a girl’s nether regions on the obvious art allusion, “Jackson Pollock D*ck.” You don’t have to major in art history to see why he referenced this iconic painter, but I welcome this. You can count on one hand the number of rappers inn South Korea who look beyond music for cultural references, so go ahead Beenzino. I just hope further references aren’t as obvious.
As the character gets ready to party, Peejay lays down a funky disco beat with a killer bass guitar loop on the shimmery “How Do I Look?” This one is made for selfie taking before your clothes get messed up with liquor and sweat
and sex stains, as the pace is smooth and just energetic enough to get your body warmed up for a night out. Beenzino brings a fun lilt to his delivery, especially on the parts where the instrumentation gets quiet and he begins to sings staccato.
Keeping the party vibe going, “미쳤어 (feat. Don Mills)” pulls no punches. Where “Jackson Pollock D*ck” uses metaphors that you need prior knowledge to get, “미쳤어” puts it out there; this guy is ready to fuck. I want to list some of the lyrics, but I’ll let you discover them on your own; more fun that way. Peejay lays down one grimy set of beats to go along with the raunch, making this track the only straight-forward hip-hop song on “Up All Night.” I know Beenzino is a good rapper, but these two party tracks show how great a producer Peejay is. The man can do both styles of dace tracks with ease, so he deserves credit for his role on this EP.
Turning things down some, the title track is Beenzino’s attempt at redemption from the listeners. Who knew the guy had a soft side? The production is melodramatic with swooping strings, piano and drones that run underneath, making it fit for a movie OST, but what redeems this song is the pairing of Beenzino and Mayson The Soul. Reuniting after “Holiday,” they go one step further and harmonize near the end of “Up All Night.” It’s clear that both of these guys go well together, their voices complementing each other.
This track is a gamble, as it tries to garner attention for OST work on some gritty “urban” k-drama, but it works; this guy is getting tired of the chase, so much so that he’s absent in the EP’s closer, “I Don’t Have To Work”. As a journey in a guy’s partying ways, “Up All Night” doesn’t break any new ground as far as insight goes, but Beenzino and Peejay together made a great concept album, furthering their careers as individuals and as collaborators.
Concept albums were a fad in the mid-2000’s, with My Chemical Romance, Green Day and Jay-Z releasing narrative-driven albums. As far as I can tell, Korean music has not touched this approach, so it’s nice to see Beenzino take this on. Going from disco, funk and hip-hop, even straying into OST territory, each track stands on its own, but together, they paint a picture of the tired bachelor. Sure he likes to “drink and smoke and fuck for 24 hours” with a “pornstar with a perfect profile,” but when it’s all over and done, he’ll still complain about heartache. Heard this before? Who hasn’t? But with Beenzino on the mic, his delivery makes Up All Night a great concept rap record, keeping me on my toes waiting for his next full length album.