Helmed by mega-producer Yoo Young-Jin, SM Entertainment’s self-created SMP (S.M. Performance) genre played an immense role in establishing modern k-pop’s sound. Fusing rock elements with hard-hitting dance and hip-hop, it’s a style I’ve missed greatly over the past few years. As SM has incorporated more and more Western influences, I’m worried that they’re forgetting what made their music so incredibly unique and engaging in the first place.
Enter U-Know: one half of k-pop royalty TVXQ. The duo was recently discharged from the military, and has promised a full comeback album at the start of next year. But before that, each member is releasing a solo single to tide fans over. And as TVXQ’s main dancer, U-Know has been paired with Young-Jin for the first proper SMP release in years. Though not one of Young-Jin’s many masterpieces, Drop‘s adventurous sonics offer a glimpse of k-pop’s anything-goes past — and a promising hint at what might come next for TVXQ.
The track opens with the kind of blitzkrieg rap that feels extremely off-kilter the first time through, but develops its own impishly playful character as time goes on. The remainder of the verses are given over to U-Know’s commanding vocal as he works his way around the track’s thundering, dubstep-influenced assault. The instrumental draws most attention throughout — particularly during its show-stopping dance breakdown — and that explains why Drop‘s melody feels so slight. We get a hint of Young-Jin’s signature vocal layering during the creeping chorus, but his production style is really best utilized with multiple voices. When it comes down to it, Drop acts as a taster for better things to come, but there’s no denying the tangible star power fueling its every moment.