Seeing U-Kwon’s name pop up on the K-pop release slate made me remember his group Block B for the first time in a while, and also made me realize how gradual their decline has been. Though not disbanded, the group seems to be in a state of purgatory, with some of its members in the military and others devoted to solo work or variety appearances. At their peak Block B were huge hit-makers – that rare idol group who could cross over to a more mainstream audience. It’ll be interesting to see if they end up reuniting in the next few years.
I always felt that U-Kwon was one of Block B’s most under-promoted members. He’s a jack-of-all-trades with charisma to spare. With that said, Fuego was probably never going to appeal to me. Technically, it’s a K-pop track. But, I think it’s more realistic to call it a dancehall reggae song that happens to be performed in Korean. I’ll never begrudge anyone the chance to perform what they want to perform, and U-Kwon obviously has an affinity for these genres. Sadly, I don’t share his enthusiasm.
On the plus side, Fuego knows exactly what it wants to be. U-Kwon has enlisted the help of Reggae Peace Like A River (better known to most of us as Skull & Haha) to add texture to the track. And rather than try to create some kind of K-pop hybrid, Fuego is straightforward and slavishly devoted to its roots. Fans of this sound will likely find much to love. Personally, I find the central synth loop to be squeaky and annoying, the melody to be dull and the instrumental to be one-note. But, this wasn’t really written with my taste in mind, so take my thoughts with a huge grain of salt.
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