Zico reflects on Pandemic Life for ‘Grown Ass Kid’, first album under HYBE

Zico has been one of modern K-pop and Korean hip-hop’s most prolific artist-producers, his long-awaited return looks set 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. Zico’s new tracks are understandably inspired by world events and lean on lyrical and musical themes of modern chaos.

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The buzz single “Seoul Drift”, released ahead of the EP with a music video, has Zico reflecting on disappointments caused by the pandemic (“Two Christmas Eves/ Flight to Europe cancelled/ Solo concert and Fashion Week/ Just a red X on problematic calendar “). Now in 2022, he’s making up for lost time, celebrating survival and moving from “offline, which means I have to cross that line.” Despite the easy summer hip-hop production, “Seoul Drift” is gently celebratory as Zico embraces the day “until there’s a crack in the ground.”

New single “Freak” takes a similar approach but ramps up the disaster. Zico declares everyone “freaks” and discusses how today’s chaotic world has made us all just above a beat drop that sounds ready to take over TikTok. He raps, “There’s no protagonist in this situation/ Citizen 1, Citizen 2, everybody’s an extra…/ Don’t expect any special treatment/ From hipsters to pop stars, everybody’s an extra.” The accompanying music video features Zico and friends in a doomsday situation story where the world is on fire while everyone simultaneously documents it on their phones.

Elsewhere on the EP, new song “Trash Talk” is a classic hip-hop track with a rapper Changmo; “Nocturnal Animals” is a slow-grooving, experimental R&B track featuring 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 that houses K-pop powerhouses such as BTS, SEVENTEEN and THE ENHYPE in their respective agencies. After leaving his longtime label home with Seven Seasons (which still houses his boy band Block B), Zico founded the record label KOZ Entertainment in 2019. He signed singer Dvwn, and HYBE bought the agency in late 2020. With a creative-in-control like Zico in the family continues to give HYBE an edge over its competitors, with Grown Ass Kid proving that the star remains introspective while pushing new boundaries.

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