프라이머리 (Primary) – 2
Release Date: 2015.08.12

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Track List:
01. 조만간 봐요 (Feat. BSK, 개코) (See You)
02. 마네퀸 (Feat. Beenzino, 수란) (Mannequin)
03. 러버 (Feat. 오혁) (Rubber)
04. 피해망상 (Feat. 개코, 선우정아) (Paranoia)
05. 아끼지마 (Feat. 초아(AOA), 아이언) (Don`t Be Shy)
06. Just Like U (Feat. 얀키, 제시)
07. 머리 세웠어 (Feat. 정기고) (Tonight)
08. 네일 했어 (Feat. 박정현) (Hello)
09. 마일리지 (Feat. 팔로알토, 화사 Of 마마무) (Mileage)
10. 그녀는 (Feat. 정인, 최자 Of Dynamic Duo, 행주 & 지구인 Of 리듬파워) (She)
11. 골드핑거 (Feat. 수란) (Gold Finger)
12. U (Feat. 권진아, 랩몬스터)

After 3 long years, Primary finally returns with his 2nd full album!

For those unfamiliar with Primary, he is a hip-hop/R&B producer working for Amoeba Culture (home to Dynamic Duo) who has a very distinct sound and look (see below).

A more recent trend in the Korean rap and hip-hop scene is for albums to be feature heavy. For example compare Leessang’s 2nd album (6 features on 14 tracks) to their 7th album (13 features on 13 tracks). This trend has allowed for producers who don’t have their own vocal talent to work with artists and put out their own albums, Primary being a prime example (see what I did there?). And what an amazing set of artists he has gathered here for this dynamo 2nd album.

Also, for those who want to be on the button with what artists are up and coming, you only need to turn to Primary to see what artists will be huge soon. He worked with Hyuk-Oh in March 2015 on Lucky You! before Hyuk-Oh’s band exploded into popularity due to the Infinity Challenge Music Festival. For his 2012 album Primary and the Messengers, he worked with Zion T, Paloalto, and Jungigo, all artists who have had recent number 1 hits. Look to Suran on this album as a relatively unknown artist who has a lot of upcoming promise.

Now let’s dive into the first track on this album:

See You pre-released in April of 2015 to get the hype started for Primary’s return. It has a soul-funk which compliments Kim Bum Soo’s vocals tremendously. Kim Bum Soo has traditionally been a ballad singer but his voice works so well with this track I honestly think he should stick this genre. The lyrics to this track are written by Primary’s label mate Dynamic Duo’s Gaeko who also features in the track. It details a man asking what “See You Soon” really means when a girl says it to him. The lyrics express the anxiety of meeting again, of worrying about being too forward, of the back and forth of emotions that happen while waiting. My personal favourite lines are:

다시 연락할 타이밍을 찾네
실수로
누른 할까

which roughly translates to:

I’m trying to find the right time to call you again
Should I pretend I pressed your number by mistake?

which I think sums up the feel of the song very succinctly . The universal theme and amazing vocals make this a great track to open the album with.

The next track on this album is Mannequin(마네퀸) (Feat. Beenzino, Suran(수란)) .

This album features the lovely Suran who has a very distinct and uncommon voice in Korea. It is almost Jungin-esque and I expect to hear her voice a lot more in the future. Beenzino also provides his voice to this track and performs in a rap-singing style which can also be found in his hit Dali, Van, Picasso.

The third track on this album is Rubber (러버)  feat. 오혁 (Oh Hyuk) which is arguably my favourite track on this album (I am still mad there is no M/V for this album). Oh-Hyuk works with Primary for the 3rd time after Lucky You! and Bawling, and this track just continues to prove to me that there is nothing that Oh-Hyuk can’t do. My only complaint for this track is that it not longer so I can enjoy it more.

Paranoia(피해망상) (feat. Gaeko(개코), Sunwoo Jung-Ah(선우정아)) is one of the few tracks on this album that feels out of place on the album. While Gaeko’s rap verse is awesome, the remaining parts of this song (which feels kind of like an Evanescence song to me) seems to suit the name of the track but does not seem to suit this album.

Now we get to the 5th and my 2nd favourite track on this album: Don’t Be Shy(아끼지마) (Feat. ChoA(초아) (AOA) , IRON(아이언)).

Primary handles the reggae beat of this song surprisingly well. Another reason why this track ranks so high for me is that ChoA of AOA finally gets to show off her vocals. Often being buried within a girl group hides natural talent but her voice is out in full force in this song. The super creepy music video with Ouija’s boards, porcelain dolls, and stuffed animal burning also makes this song very memorable. The only minus point to this song is while Iron is a great rapper, his verse seems thrown in unnecessarily and doesn’t work with ChoA’s voice.

I have to voice my complaints about Just Like U (Feat. Yankie(얀키), Jessi(제시)) mostly because I think Jessi is getting too much credit these days. I personally don’t find her to be all that talented and her intro to this song is almost cringe-worthy. While Yankie’s flows well over the simple keyboard and drum line of this song, I get annoyed each time Jessi’s voice enters the song. I honestly think there are a lot of other artists that could have done this song more justice. However the music video for this song is definitely note-worthy.

It defies a lot of the common tropes in music videos by casting not traditionally pretty individuals. It seems to give the message to me that these nights of drinking, clubbing, and meeting someone, can be had by anyone (not just the beautiful or rich).

머리 세웠어 (Tonight) (Feat. Junggigo 정기고) is Primary’s 2nd time working with Junggigo after 2012’s Playboy’s Diary. While I don’t consider it to be a stellar song, it is a great mellow jam to play in the background. The lyrics describe excitement of getting paid, cleaned up, and heading out to a night of possibilities which is something I think a lot of us in our 20s can relate to.

The next track Hello(네일 했어) (Feat. Lena Park(박정현)) features an awesome 80’s bass line with Lena Park’s voice. Like Kim Bum Soo, I consider Lena Park to be a ballad singer, so seeing her stepping out of her regular zone for this upbeat track is great. She also sounds very Jungin-esque in this song (particularly during the chorus lyrics 오늘은 성공적인 예감이 좋아) which makes me think the song may have originally been written for Jungin (a frequent Primary collaborator), but I am glad that Lena Park was chosen for the vocals as we are able to see another side to her. I dare any who can listen to this song and not feel at least a little bit upbeat.

The music video also mixes in the 80’s vibe with the cheesy nail polish ad at the beginning and blurry yellow subtitles throughout the video. I also love the cuts to the random pastel coloured sets which is a trend that can be seen in more and more Korean MVs these days (see EXID’s ‘위아래’ (UP&DOWN) and Lim Kim’s Awoo). Note: Lim Kim’s Awoo while not as popular in Korea did go viral on popular social media site Reddit’s ListenToThis section and remains the top post there. This is particular of note because many people do not realize that this track was in fact produced by Primary.

Mileage (마일리지) (Feat. Paloalto 팔로알토, Hwasa 화사 of [MAMAMOO]) is the 9th track on this album. Any attention that Mamamoo can get is something I am a fan of as I consider Mamamoo as one of the best groups that debuted in 2014. Hwasa’s rich vocal range suits Paloalto’s deep voice very well. The lyrics which are about getting away on vacation is something I personally relate to a lot these days. Paloalto raps about getting away from Seoul on vacation, but for those of us here away from Korea, I think we want the reverse.

The 3rd to last track on this album is She’s(그녀는) (feat. Jung In, Choiza Of Dynamic Duo, Haeng Ju & Jigu In Of Rhythm Power). As soon as I heard Jungin’s vocals on this track I immediately knew I would love this song. This song also features Jigu In of Rhythm Power who has a very distinct rap style. He has had a successful run on Show Me the Money 4 this year, and hopefully we will see more from him in the near future. Choiza of Dynamic Duo is on point as usual in this track. Jungin’s voice just works with all rappers of all styles and I can see why so many hip hop artists collaborate with her.

Gold Finger(골드핑거) (Feat. 수란) is the 2nd track on this album that features Suran. The intro to this song reminds me of The Carpenters – Yesterday Once More but does change pace quite a bit as soon as Suran’s voice comes in. This track is why I said at the beginning of the article that we can expect more from Suran in the future. She performs both as a rapper and a singer in this song and strongly reminds me of CL and 2NE1 in general especially during the ‘다 따라따라 날 따라따라 와 다다 날 따라’ part of the song. A few of the lyrics for this song are definitely a bit adult themed such as ‘I’m an alchemist, you’re harder than steel’ and ‘I’m gonna pick out a good, ripe one and taste your banana’ but the focus seems to definitely be more on self-praise a la 2NE1’s I am the Best. Keep a look out for Suran in the future.

The final track of this album is U (feat. Kwon Jinah (권진아), Rap Monster (랩몬스터)) and Primary picks his collaborators very well again. Kwon Jinah for those who don’t know got 3rd place on K-Pop Star Season 3 has signed with Antenna Music but has yet to make an official debut. Hopefully, that will be coming soon! In the track, both of the artists perform in English and Korean flawlessly which as Korean music spreads worldwide seems to be more and more a requirement. The dance between piano and violin with the backing drum line supporting Jinah’s voice throughout this song works beautifully.

Final Score: 9/10
Comments: Despite a few dips in the album this is a great return for Primary and his collaborators. I can’t wait for more music by him.