Fuse is celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Asian and Pacific History before our eyes. Today, we're honoring Dean, Korea's alternative-R&B singer-producer to watch that isn't just gaining a huge following thanks to his smooth croons and insane productions, but for refusing to be a singer who follows conventions.
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Dean (neé Kwon Hyuk) never had a limited viewpoint for how far his music could go. Despite not being totally fluent in English—and a listen to any of his songs would trick into thinking otherwise—Dean began his career by releasing music in English, starting with the impressive Eric Bellinger collaboration "I'm Not Sorry" in mid 2015 that was catered to the U.S. market.
Since then, the now-24-year-old has continued to operate on both sides of the world, releasing more and more impressive music (he landed two songs on the 2016 Billboard critics list of best K-pop songs including the No. 1 pick, "Bermuda Triangle") with more and more impressive collaborators (acts that range from R&B to K-pop to hip-hop including Anderson .Paak, Zico, Taeyeon, Gaeko, Syd) to continue his exciting rise in the music industry.
While his come up has been unconventional, Dean has found success and looks set to keep breaking boundaries in a bigger and more influential way. For example the singer recently released the track "Love" featuring Syd of Odd Future and The Internet fame. While the track is one of his smoothest to date and sees him stepping into a neo-soul world, there's a larger message here by having Syd, a gay woman, and Dean trade off verses featuring lines like "I got intentions baby, but, I’m gettin’ restless babe / I need your blessin’, baby, I’ll f*ck you if you let me baby." Despite gay rights existing in America, the intended audience for this song, gay rights still do not exist in Dean's South Korea with this song ultimately making a larger statement about inclusion and acceptance. With a song like "Love," Dean is further proving that he is not just defying professional and industry conventions, but cultural and social ones too that speak to him having a much larger influence.
With his star only on the rise (he completed a U.S. tour in 2016 and has been performing around the world since) and his list of collaborators only going larger, it's clear that Dean will continue pushing boundaries of what a singer from Korea can accomplish by conquering more genres and industries with his oh-so-smooth vocals, coupled with impeccable writing and production skills.
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