Here’s a little secret of mine: despite my love of full length albums and their long visions, most of my casual listening are singles, playlists or songs on shuffle. When it’s on the background to something I’m paying attention to, like chores, music keeps my attention from straying. As odd as that sounds, random songs playing helps me focus on mundane tasks. Not sure why that is, but there you go. Producer compilations, ergo, are ideal for me. With the rise of the DJ as artists to be marketed, these creators are now bringing in vocal talent to make the producer shine, where before it was a Wizard of Oz deal.

primary 2

Primary is one of these types who, until recently, donned a cardboard box on his head and preferred to remain the caricature behind many pop hits, from Zion.T, MBLAQ, Dynamic Duo, among others. Focusing on pop-funk, Primary established his sound on 1, a collection of single collaborations that made people notice him. Now, with an expanded roster of musicians helping him out, 2 continues Primary’s pop-funk reign, with great results.

Off the bat, 2 is, in part, a collection of fabulous female voices. With only two songbirds (Lena Park and Mamamoo’s Hwasa), the remaining ladies of 2 share an off-color that I love. By this point you’ve heard the reggae track, “아끼지마 (Don`t Be Shy),” with AOA’s Choa. Deliciously groovy and sexually suggestive, Choa nails this so hard. Her raspy, whispery delivery is an eargasm, something I didn’t expect to love as much as I do. It doesn’t surprise that “Don`t Be Shy” is that good, with its reverbed crashes and crazy wonderful break, since he produced Zion.T’s equally ecstasy-inducing “Global Warming.” On the same page, Soran’s “마네퀸 (Mannequin)” performance is hella good. Soran’s high nasal quality is equal parts admiration of the clothes horse/gold digger of the song and sneer of her. Whether her delivery is put on or not, Soran works on both of these levels, as well as in the cheesy oddity of “골드핑거 (Gold Finger).” Primary loves female voices like this (see also Jung In and Sunwoo Jung Ah) and produces them in the right way to make these ladies shine.

In terms of production, 2 isn’t a major step forward for Primary. Sure, “피해망상 (Paranoia)” is the most non-Primary song ever, with “Rubber” and “머리 세웠어 (Tonight)” leading him down more dance-oriented paths, 2 is just more Primary. Somehow, though, 2 shines and grabs more of my attention than 1 did. The tracks are effervescent, the hooks are better and the guests varied enough to keep the fun going. The highs are brighter, as in the digital-tip anthem “네일 했어 (Hello),” the lows are funkier, like in the woe-is-me funk of the Hyukoh collaboration “Rubber,” and the atmosphere just a whole mess of fun. Even the slower moments don’t lose the record’s momentum; the ballads, in particularly “U,” feel necessary amidst the dance numbers. At first glance, the compilation appears to be a variety show, but the more it steeps, the more coherent “2” as a jumbled package becomes.

First and foremost, Primary is a hit maker. Only on his project EP with Hyukoh did a full vision become reality. While he focuses on R&B and funk, Primary doesn’t stick to a theme or sound long enough to create a record. What you have in 2, much like in 1, is a single compilation, where the only constant is Primary and his affinity for the bass guitar. This is not a problem, in the least, and with an even longer roster of artists for this play-on-shuffle collection, 2 is better than 1. Going everywhere from electronica (피해망상 (Paranoia)), disco (“Rubber,” “Tonight”), reggae (“Don’t Be Shy”) and R&B (“그녀는 (She),” “U”), there’s nothing he can’t do and do well. As a collection, 2 is a fabulous set of singles with a great list of collaborators. Simply put, 2 is the shit.

Primary on Facebook
Primary on iTunes

Contributed to McRoth’s Residence with a focus on Korean indie and hip-hop music.