A Mino solo album has been rumored nearly as long as Winner have been active as a group. We came close with his Show Me The Money tracks in 2015, and then his unit album with iKON’s Bobby in 2016. But now, YG Entertainment has finally delivered on their promise with the sprawling, twelve-track debut album XX.
When describing title track Fiancé (아낙네), Mino characterized the song as “trot hip-hop.” When looking at its samples, which pull from Korea’s traditional past, that’s certainly the case. Sampling trot music isn’t anything new from K-pop. It’s not even new for YG, whose own G-Dragon riffed on classic samples with 2013’s Niliria. But, it always adds a welcome sense of history to modern songs, and it definitely helps Fiancé stand out.
I’ve never been drawn very strongly to Mino as a rapper. His tone just isn’t the kind I tend to gravitate towards. But, there’s no denying his talent or charisma. He fills Fiancé with all sorts of variation, shifting attitude and tone for a flow that blends today’s trends with his own style. As with so much of rap these days, there are definitely more vocal effects than I would have preferred, and the verses tend toward shouting too often for their own good. On the other hand, the bombastic hook benefits from its boisterous delivery, underlined by a brassy instrumental that adds just enough robust accompaniment to stand out. There’s a sense of grandiosity to this segment that could have been expanded on even further. Still, Fiancé is mostly worth the long wait — especially for those who can’t get enough of this old vs. new hip-hop style.