Zico has been one of modern K-pop and Korean hip-hop’s most prolific artist-producers, and his long-awaited return looks poised to continue his reign of thought-provoking, addictive hits.
Zico’s first collection of new music since 2020, Grown Ass Kid, comes after the star completed his required military service for South Korean men during the bulk of the global pandemic. Understandably inspired by the events of the world, Zico’s new tracks lean on lyrical and musical themes of modern-day chaos.
Buzz single “Seoul Drift,” released ahead of the EP with a music video, has Zico reflecting on disappointments brought on by the pandemic (“Two Christmas Eves/ Flight to Europe canceled/ Solo concert and Fashion Week/ Just a red X on the problematic calendar”). Now in 2022, he’s making up for lost time, celebrating survival and moving from “offline, meaning that I should cross that line.” Despite the easy summer hip-hop production, “Seoul Drift” is cautiously celebratory as Zico embraces the day “until there is a crack in the earth.”
The new single “Freak” takes a similar approach but ups the catastrophe. Declaring everyone “freaks,” Zico discusses how today’s chaotic world has made us all equals over a beat drop that sounds ready to take over TikTok. He raps, “There is no main character in this situation/ Citizen 1, citizen 2, everyone is an extra…/ Don’t expect any special treatment/ From hipsters to pop stars, everyone is an extra.” The accompanying music video has Zico and friends starring in a doomsday-situation story where the world is burning while everyone is simultaneously documenting it on their phones.
Elsewhere on the EP, new song “Trash Talk” is a classic hip-hop track featuring rapper Changmo; “Nocturnal Animals” is a slow-grooving, experimental R&B track with rising rapper Zior Park; and “OMZ Freestyle” spotlights Zico’s spitting skills.
Grown Ass Kid is Zico’s first release under his new label family, HYBE Labels, the same system housing K-pop powerhouses like BTS, SEVENTEEN and ENHYPEN in their respective agencies. After leaving his longtime label home of Seven Seasons (that still houses his boy band Block B), Zico founded the label KOZ Entertainment in 2019. He signed singer Dvwn, and HYBE acquired the agency in late 2020. Having a creative-in-control like Zico in the family continues to give HYBE an edge over its competition, with Grown Ass Kid proving that the star remains introspective while pushing new boundaries.