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South Korea (1998 – present)

Seo Taiji (born Jeong Hyeon-Cheol on February 21, 1972) is a South Korean singer and musician. As a cultural comparison, Taiji’s levels of popularity in Korea is analogous to the popularity of Michael Jackson in the mid-1980s.

At the age of 14, Jeong Hyeon-Cheol (Taiji) participated in several amateur rock bands. In 1990, at the age of 17, he was recruited into the underground metal group Sinawe (pronounced shee-nah-wee). Taiji chose to drop out of school, a system that he felt did nothing but corrupt the minds of youth, and became a professional musician.

After the break up of Sinawe in 1991, Taiji switched gears and formed the dance group Seo Tai-ji and Boys (Seo Taiji and Boys) with dancers Lee Ju-no and Yang Hyeon-seok.

The introduction of the first Seo Taiji and Boys album announced a complete shift in the focus of popular Korean music that is still felt today. Their first single, “Nan Arayo” (난 알아요, “I Know”) was a hugely successful hit, being one of the first songs in K-Pop to meld contemporary dance sounds with urban-influenced rap lyrics.

Seo Tai-ji and Boys broke up in 1996 after four wildly successful studio and two hugely popular live albums. Tai-ji disappeared from the music scene for the next two years, moving to New York City, living a low profile life, and working on his come-back.

In 1998, Taiji returned to the music scene with his first solo album, Seo Tai-ji. His self-produced album continued with his long established sound of mixing contemporary American rock and pop music with Korean vocals. His comeback album, while not a huge success, put him back onto the path of greatness.


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