The ’90s nostalgia rage has been going on for a few years now, but it only really infiltrated Korea last year and didn’t really get into full swing until about six months ago.
We’ve seen a lot of different K-pop artists snatch up parts of the decade for themselves, like LiVii with her Tommy Hilfiger fashion, A Pink with their vintage Max Martin beats, or Brave Brothers’ spectacular 1PUNCH who are just a Kris Kross copy singing Seo Taiji And Boys covers.
However, until now, we haven’t really seen any mainstream acts try out one of the most defining genres of the ’90s and early 2000s: neo soul.
Rubber Soul is a female trio reportedly named after the famous Beatles album and co-produced by THREE different agencies, including Happy Tribe Entertainment and Universal Music Korea, who brought us the incredible Boys Republic.
Their debut single, “Life,” is a real surprise, blending classic hip-hop with straight-up neo soul. There’s even a gospel-y moment reminiscent of early Mary J. Blige. It’s pretty amazing listening to a Korean girl group effortlessly perform the music usually associated with artists like Jill Scott, D’Angelo, and Floetry, but then again, interpretation and appropriation is what K-pop’s best at.
Rapper Mad Clown also features, which makes “Life” one of the few good songs in his otherwise terribly safe and basic discography.
Rubber Soul’s now my new favourite rookie act alongside LOVELYZ, and I really hope we get to hear more of them this year. They’ll either vanish into thin air after two singles like G.I. or She’Z did, or keep consistently churning out flawless flop after flawless flop like labelmates Boys Republic.
I’m praying for the latter.
Check out nation’s first neo soul-dols below.