Rapper Dumbfoundead has moved East and dropped his first body of work in Korea titled Foreigner. It’s his first of three mini-albums that he plans to release in 2017.
The album’s lead single “Hyung” features Simon D, Dok2 and Tiger JK. Had it remained a filler track I would have liked it much more, but as Dumbfoundead’s first “official” foot in the Korean music scene, it is basic and an honest letdown. “Hyung” is very much a trap song with its trendy beat, making it nothing I haven’t heard a million times over. Plus, I feel a little jipped by the promise of a feature from Tiger JK when in actuality he only says one line for the outro.
However, the album improves from there. Tracks “History of Violence” and “Send a Me To War” bring forward the issues of violence in the world and, more interestingly, racial discrimination in the United States and how that manifests into acts of violence right to the doorsteps of Korean listeners. Korean culture has been guilty many times, as recently as this year, of being insensitive to the cultures of other races, particularly that of black people. Dumbfoundead and his fellow Korean American artists Chancellor, Jessi and Year of The Ox have made their music a means for Korean listeners and Korean artists to familiarize themselves with American culture and the Hip-Hop culture they partake in on a regular basis.
Even though the album is not filled with discussions of racial inequality, as a Korean-American Dumbfoundead has a foot in both worlds, and being that his life and livelihood is steeped in black culture and rap music, to go back to his “motherland” and defend and make tangible the black American experience makes this body of work profound.
One of the main criticisms that K-pop and Korean Hip-Hop artists receive from their black fans is that they blatantly disrespect black people and black culture by continuing to do things like say the n-word, participating in black face and perpetuating stereotypes about black people despite our calls for it to end (because why should we take this from you when we have to deal with this in our own countries?) “History of Violence” and “Send Me To War” give us an artist coming to our defense in a way that we’ve always wanted to hear and see.
Elsewhere on Foreigner, “Water,” my favorite track on the album, is the instant favorite. It stands out on the album for being the only dance/club song. The beat is fresh and R&B singer G.Soul and female MC Jessi accent the song incredibly well.
The marketing of this album threw me off, though. I understand that Dumbfoundead isn’t fluent in Korean enough to create an album entirely in the language but to go to Korea and release an album with the majority of it in English, from an objective standpoint, comes off as a project featuring Korean/Korean-American artists, which is business as usual for him. The only difference is it’s more readily available for purchase for Korean listeners.
All that aside, Foreigner helped me realized that I really love a woke Dumbfoundead. It has been proven difficult for an artist to call out systems of oppression or call attention to social issues in the package of a good song, but Dummy is 2 for 0 now. Foreigner is not a particularly cohesive album, but each song stands strong on its own. As a means to give Korean listeners a taste of the scope of Dumbfoundead’s abilities, it does its job.
Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop | Release Date: 5/23/17