It was a joint move no one had seen coming. We recall the month of April 2018: when a momentous collaboration blossomed on-screen in the K-music scene. Household names Hwasa and Loco made an enchanting pair as they took to the studio mics for ‘Don’t’—a collaborative track produced by Woogie on music reality television show ‘The Hyena on The Keyboard’. And so what started off as a cold call from Hwasa to the affable rapper, Loco, was turned into pure musical gold: an R&B track that merges the singer’s smooth, whispery sound with Loco’s clean delivery of his rap lines.
For the uninitiated, the Mamamoo vocalist and rapper, Hwasa, has long established herself as a bold force within the K-pop realm, known for her infectious confidence, alternative lyrics and aloof stage presence that strays away from the hyper-feminine image of a typical girl group member in South Korea. In some sense, her fluid and versatile musical style perhaps set the perfect playing field for the combination with Loco, known for his playful and laidback flow. Whilst the track went on to top South Korea’s music charts globally as fans were floored by the unexpected chemistry they displayed lyrically, as well as in the accompanying music video, their collaborative moment was also a defining one: opening up more doors for fellow industry players who dabbled in a similar musical style to swivel into the mainstream as the sound became a more coveted affair on the whole.
Fast forward to today: Hwasa and Loco have surprised us all by joining hands again—marking their second collaborative move with not just one track, but two. Titled ‘Somebody’ and ‘Lemon’, the duet shows off their epic chemistry and harmonious sync-up in both tracks—one, an uplifting song of sweet love and the other, a more subdued track that likens life to the bittersweet nature of lemons. Along with the double release, fans have also been rewarded with an accompanying music video for the titular track, where they playfully flirt and turn on their on-screen charms.
In celebration of their unprecedented return together, we chronicle a noteworthy series of other collaborative tracks in the Korean R&B realm, where other sweet voices of the K-pop scene—think IU, Lee Hi and Chung Ha—make their wondrous entrance into the alternative sound. As you tune into Hwasa and Loco’s latest tracks, don’t forget to add these picks to your playlist, all for your perusal below.
‘O’ (feat. Lee Hi) by Code Kunst (2020)
In the world of K-rap and hip-hop, Code Kunst’s name as a producer and composer is instantly recognisable—for his work with genre headliners such as Hyukoh, G.Soul and BewhY. Yet some of his most memorable moments include his collaborations with soul singer Lee Hi. ‘O’ stands as one of sixteen tracks in his People album, taking a more upbeat approach to the melancholic narrative offered in their previous tracks together: ‘X’ and ‘XI’.
‘Rain Song (feat. Colde)’ by Epik High (2021)
A soothing anthem for those cold, lonely nights; ‘Rain Song (feat. Colde) combines Epik High’s lyrical flow with Colde’s melodic voice that sadly reminisces the memories of a past lover as the raindrops fall outside—capturing the moment perfectly with their heart-rending lyrics.
‘It’s You’ by Sam Kim and Zico (2018)
Sam Kim’s name rings saccharine-sweet in the world of K-drama OSTs, known for his scene-stealing soundtracks in popular series Goblin (2016) and Nevertheless (2021). On his Sun And Moon, ‘It’s You’ is a laid back, guitar-led track that sings of the confusing signs that a potential lover is giving him during their time spent together. The Korean-American singer-songwriter’s whispery voice leads for most of the song but takes a more hard-hitting angle with Zico’s sharp rap.
‘Don’t Forget’ by Crush and Taeyeon (2016)
Most K-pop fans will have no issue recognising this track as one of the most iconic collaborative moments in the scene. One of the older releases on our curation, the lyrics of ‘Don’t Forget’ read of cherishing moments together, tinged with a bout of sadness. Respected for his soft, sentimental sound, Crush’s emotional lyrics were a beautiful combination with the powerful voice of Taeyeon, the main singer of reigning girl group Girls’ Generation.
‘Nerdy Love’ by pH-1 and Yerin Baek (2020)
A formidable pairing—as versatile rapper pH-1 joins hands with Yerin Baek, the sentimental singer known for her comforting lyrics and wide vocal range. For this playful, upbeat track, pH-1’s smooth and dynamic flow combines seamlessly with Yerin Baek’s light-hearted vocals as they happily sing of being complete nerds for each other when they’re in love.
Alone (Feat. Lee Hi) by Woogie (2022)
Probably the most recent track on this list: ‘Alone’ expresses a desire to be left alone by an ex-lover, as there shouldn’t be anything between the two parties anymore. Lee Hi’s soulful voice melodically kicks off the track, as the beats on the chill track sets the flow for Coogie’s rap.
‘Hello, Tutorial’ by Zion.T and Seulgi (2018)
Zion.T’s eclectic sound shows through ‘Hello, Tutorial’ which ultimately sings of the fun, fuzzy feelings of falling in love. Together with Seulgi, the lead vocalist of K-pop girl group Red Velvet, the track is a showing of the rapper’s light, lilting style pairing with the singer’s unique voice.
‘My Lips Like Warm Coffee’ by Chung Ha and Colde (2016)
Whilst the track was originally by Sharp from back in 2001, Chung Ha and Colde both brought a fresh sound to their remade version of the popular release. The song beckons to the light-hearted nostalgia of a once-had love, and the singers harmoniously combine their sweet vocals for their reinterpretation of the track.
‘Soulmate (feat. IU)’ by Zico (2018)
Since the start of his solo career, Zico’s made a name for himself in the K-rap scene, as he skillfully switches from catchy melodies to hard-hitting lines in his discography. But ‘Soulmate’ is a perfect encapsulation of the former: as he merges his rhythmic flow with IU’s airy vocals for this quirky song of being each other’s soulmates.