YG Entertainment– the home to hip-hop, rappers, dancers, and countless list of other talents that make the clan stand out in the ocean of K-Pop. When BIGBANG debuted under Yang Hyun Suk, the CEO, the Korean music industry went under a drastic shift.
For the first time in many years, a boy band showed what being an idol is about beyond the slave contracts and expressing their individuality without inhibitions.
As BIGBANG’s popularity sky-rocketed, YG launched a girl group, 2NE1, that was equally formidable and captured the true essence of womanhood. As the two groups reigned over the second generation, somewhere, things were ready to spiral down behind the scenes.
The YG label was marred by marijuana, drugs, and gambling controversies, leading to the disbandment of 2NE1 and an indefinite hiatus for BigBang. While YG struggled to get the groups out of the slump, the third generation of K-Pop was already making noise.
YG Entertainment needed a contingency plan to remain relevant as the BIG-3 music label. And when they had only one shot at it, who knew that it would turn out to be such a “Boombayah” bazooka?
BLACKPINK’s success catapulted the YG back to the number 1 spot, and the group continues its supremacy as the biggest girl band in the world. But YG has more ambitions, which seems like they are carried away a little.
As K-pop welcomes the fourth generation, YG is also gearing up for a resurrection. As for now, YG’s boy group, Treasure, is active and thriving. But YG wanted to replicate the success of BLACKPINK in the new generation as well. And thus began years of preparation for launching the new girl group BabyMonster.
It seems, though, that things are not quite falling into place for the rookie YG girl group.
On November 27, 2023, BabyMonster officially debuted with their new single, “BATTER UP.” The music video was perceived with few criticisms over cultural appropriation by two members, Ruka, who wore a durag, and Chiquita, who donned box braids. Netizens raised objections to using black culture as a fashion trend.
BabyMonster faced another controversy of racial slurs with Ahyeon, who ultimately left the group before the debut.
Was There Culture Appropriation In BabyMonster’s Debut Music Video For ‘Batter Up?’
Even before their debut, the most significant hurdle for BabyMonster was to shed away the shadow of BLACKPINK’s success. The BLINKS fandom already suspected YG’s foul play by neglecting BACLKINK’s activities. Unfortunately, BabyMonster had to bear the brunt of the fandom’s wrath.
At the same time, the rookie girl group was challenged with their own struggles. On November 15, YG announced that the group’s center, Ahyeon, had left the group on account of mental health struggles. This needed a complete restructuring of the 6-member group.
Even then, fans were ready for the D-Day with a highly-anticipated BabyMonster debut. The music video, however caught eyes for both right and wrong reasons.
Song Review: “BATTER UP” is definitely a BOP, given the signature YG style and rhythm. Glimpses of 2NE1 and BLACKPINK are pretty evident in the rap style and vocals. Although, in my opinion, the song seems to be missing something.
After thinking for a while, it dawned on me that the song lacked authenticity and a unique element. Per a few insider sources, YG’s staff were of the opinion that the song sounded so repetitive because of Yang Hyun Suk’s vision, who has since resigned from his position following several lawsuits against him.
Even with limited creativity, the girls still managed to pull it off with their skills. They definitely deserve more chances and we hope to see BabyMonster in their true potential.
Music Video Review: The controversies stemmed from the music video of Batter Up. Ruka, the rapper, was seen wearing a durag, which is common in black hip-hop culture. However, the history of this garment is way more harrowing, considering that black women who were kept as slaves would wear this scarf to keep their hair in place.
A few frames later, we see another member, Chiquita, donning block braids, typically worn by black women.
These two points of contention were raised by netizens who deemed the video cultural appropriation.
Regardless of the controversies, BabyMonster’s debut music video has amassed over 40 million views in two days, the highest for any rookie girl group.
What is your take on this? Do you think the video propagates cultural appropriation?
Did YG use Black Culture as a marketing strategy to get attention on the video? Let us know in the comments section below.