Welcome back to the final instalment of my K-Pop Deep Dive. This week I will be talking about an artist that left me flabbergasted. His voice can sing such smooth melodies. He can sing both softly and strongly at the same time. Truly a voice of honey, made for R&B. It is none other than Dean.

The Artist

South Korean born, alternative R&B singer and songwriter, rapper and record producer, Dean, made his debut on March 25th of 2016. His debut EP, 130 Mood: TRBL, was released alongside multiple collaborations with both American and South Korean artists. Before making his debut as a singer, Dean was already working in the music industry as a songwriter. At the early age of 16, Dean performed with Korean artist Keith Ape. By 18, he was writing songs for various K-Pop groups and soloists under the name ‘Deanfluenza’. This name originated from late actor, James Dean; whose rebellious image appealed to him. Dean wanted to make rebellious and experimental music rather than common or stereotypical music. At age 20, he was signed under a company to write songs for various artists including Justin Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl”.

The Music

Although he has a list of singles and songs he featured on, 130 Mood: TRBL remains as his only Extended Play to date. But even with that discography, you can tell he is a talented and versatile artist. His music ranged from genres such as alternative R&B and R&B to hip hop and even neo-soul. His melodies are catchy and groovy. Lyrics that can make you sit and get lost in thought or just simply get up and groove. I truly wish his music wasn’t so sparse. But in the end, that’s what makes his songs sound so different. The wait is worth it when it comes to Dean.

The Visuals

Besides the music and the lyrics, Dean also creates stunning visuals to his work. He will try to tell a story in an aesthetic way as he did in Bonnie and Clyde or show a heart-warming animation style for D (Half Moon). In what2do you can see a girl exploring a beautiful snow-capped hill, reflecting the sadness and loneliness you feel in the song. In And July, which he featured on for fellow Korean artist Heize, you can see a couple pulling mean pranks on each other. Visually it looks amazing, contextually you can interpret it as a toxic relationship. In 2018 he released his single Instagram, a slow and ominous song about finding temporary comfort in Instagram when he is lonely. This is a criticism of how social media can be addictive and harmful. The video that he released with it was equally ominous, as it was in all black and white. As the video progresses, the room he is in starts filling up with black ink, with videos of various world events flashing by on it. The video ends with Dean laughing hysterically as the camera zooms in on his face and right as the camera is very up close, he stops laughing. He suddenly has a straight face and walks away. You can find many theories online of what exactly he meant with this, but that’s what makes his work appealing. You can analyse them for hours, trying to figure out what he’s trying to tell you.

Next Release

It has been announced that he has plans of releasing his debut studio album, 130 Mood: RVNG in 2020. With the current global situation, it is unsure if the album is going to be delayed or not. But the good news is that we will finally be fed with more Dean content. And while waiting for it, you can go to his Spotify and check out his other music.

This wraps up my K-Pop Deep Dive series. Though it was short, it was a lot of fun to write. I really hope I managed to inspire some of you to go and check out these amazing artists. And a big thank you for following along with the series, I really appreciate it.