We’re only two days into the new year, but K-pop has already delivered a new debut… of sorts. Top Gang feels more like a pre-release for boy group MCND, and the song was first performed on music shows last month. I’m not sure what MCND’s eventual concept will be, but I’m hoping that this track is a total red herring. It does little beyond showing off the group’s rap-line, bolstered by an unnecessarily swaggy energy.
I followed members Minjae and Huijin on competition series The Fan, and was very impressed by their talents as dancers. Maybe that’s why I’m so disappointed with Top Gang. This rookie group has so much potential beyond the limits of a hip-hop track like this. Top Gang positions the guys in an aggressive light, boasting their strengths but forgetting to tether that confidence to a memorable hook. The rap is fine, as most K-pop rap is, but it exists over an unappealing instrumental that melds trap influences to boisterous EDM and hip-hop flourishes. It comes across like an unimaginative rehash of Monsta X at their least melodic, and fails to set MCND apart.
I’d rather have seen Top Gang positioned as some sort of un-promoted album introduction. I’m worried that the group is actively promoting this on music shows, as it seems that this is the image they want to introduce themselves with. Absent any unique ideas or satisfying hooks, a song like Top Gang will make it hard for MCND to stand out. But then again, 2019 rookies AB6IX opened with the awful Hollywood before moving onto much stronger material. So, I guess there’s some hope to be had.
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