Rap is an interesting new discovery for me, as are rappers. Previous to my endless excursion in to the world of Kpop I hadn’t ever really had much of an interest in rap or hip-hop and as such wasn’t aware of any rappers (bar the well known American rappers like Jay-Z etc…) In its essence, Rap challenges authority and is often an angry medium which is used to break down societal walls and (let’s be honest) it has a reputation for glorifying some values which definitely don’t fit with my personal opinions. It wasn’t until last summer, in fact, when YouTube kindly introduced me to BTS, that I really began to enjoy rap as a medium and, in time, began to take an interest in other Korean idol rappers.
Needless to say, now I am obsessed and have collected my own little batch of favourites who I excitedly gush over at every opportunity. There is one particular type of rapper that I have an indescribable weakness for and these lovely guys rock my morning playlist with their clever (often emotional) vocal gymnastics whilst simultaneously making my evenings much more enjoyable by being, quite simply, among some of the sweetest and funniest men alive. So, in no particular order, lets meet some of the ‘happy virus rappers’ who can have me smiling without even saying a word!
It only makes sense to start where it all begun for me, J-Hope from BTS! Whilst Rap Monster is delightfully awkward but boasts an incredible intelligence and confidence and Suga is full of a swag and emotional depth that is almost too much to comprehend, J-Hope is working an entirely different but equally prudent corner of emotions. A look at his carefree smile and loud and proud behaviour would make you think he’d never suffered a hardship in his young life but you’d be totally incorrect.
Despite set-backs and put-downs and against the initial wishes of his family, J-Hope has fought hard since a young age to get where he is now, he suffers every blow with a smile and pushes harder and harder to become the best he can be, all the while being absolutely, manically cheerful and full of an impossible energy that is definitely contagious! J-Hope makes everything look like so much fun that watching him always has me very seriously considering learning to dance the way he does, myself! Just one look at an aegyo energised J-Hope is enough to brighten even my darkest days.
The original ‘Happy Virus’ rapper, ‘EXO’s Chanyeol definitely shouldn’t be ignored and, lets be honest, he’s as tall as a giant and behaves like a beagle, it’s pretty difficult to ignore him. Chanyeol is multi-talented, hard-working, confident and capable… he is also a large ball of kinetic energy that can not be halted or calmed no matter what method you choose to use. With his adorable pixie ears and his sunshine smile, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Chanyeol for a mischievous little elf as he lollops around the stage, playfully toying with his fellow members and picking on Kyungsoo (D.O) at every given opportunity.
Chanyeol has a boundless energy which he mostly pours into his work, writing, composing and performing with everything he’s got, but when he’s not on stage or in his recording studio (and sometimes when he IS on stage and in his recording studio) he uses that energy to radiate positivity and improve the moods of those around him. Such a institution is Chanyeol’s adorable puppi-ness that I often find it difficult to reconcile the angry growl of his rap with the cheerful playfulness of a man in his early-twenties with energy to spare who is doing what he loves. It’s hard not to wear a smile of your own when you look at Chanyeol’s and if you need a pick me up, his V app videos will have you grinning from ear to ear and giggling insanely whilst your fiance looks on in horror… or that’s what happens to me anyway.
A fairly new but no less prominent happiness crush of mine is ‘Ikon’s Bobby. Bobby has one of the most contagious smiles I have ever seen! ‘Ikon’ as a whole unit could easily be described as happy viruses simply because their lovable hilarious approach to life is something I personally hope to one day emulate but Bobby in particular rocks a smile that won’t quit and a playful nature which perfectly compliments that of his best friend and bandmate Hanbin (B.I) making them an unstoppable happiness machine. Their relationship is adorable and comforting.
Playful and excitable, Bobby boasts incredible amounts of energy and is good humoured and silly with a capacity for selfless humour that would endear him to even the hardest heart. His ambition and drive is unmistakable and his love of music is tangible but it is his love for his fellow members that really makes him shine. When a member of ‘Ikon’ cries Bobby is, invariably the first on the scene with a cuddle, a smile and a show of affection that is unavoidably enticing, he has even proven his care for his fans at events where he makes the crowds promise to take care on their way home. One flash of that toothy smile and I imagine I would promise him anything he asked before returning a smile of my own.
Got7’s Jackson is a force to be reckoned with both on stage and off of it. This puppy-made-human bounces around with an enviable store of energy which makes me feel energised even just watching, though I know I stand no chance of keeping up. The most poignant Jackson moment for me, the moment when I realised just how wonderful this little ‘Happy Virus’ is, was the first time I stumbled across a video of him seeing his parents on Christmas day during his time on ‘Roommates’. Watching Jackson break down into tears practically tore me in two and I actually tear up again once more every time I think about it. Having traveled far from his family in Hong Kong in pursuit of his dreams and being unable to see them for large periods of time has taken its toll on Jackson emotionally but he doesn’t let that get in his way. Instead he remains a constant reminder that positivity can overcome any obstacle as well as a motivator, telling us to make the most of every situation and never waste a moment.
Jackson’s comedic value lies in his confidence and conviction to his cause. He rockets backwards and forwards between deadpan and explosive grinning and seems to have a contagious energy that virally inspires fits of hilarity in those around him, in fact, I would describe Jackson as a ‘Mood-setter’ because the most ‘happy-inducing’ thing about him in the happiness he creates in his vicinity. It’s very rare to see someone stood beside Jackson who isn’t laughing or at the very least attempting to repress a grin.
Rapper, Singer and Dancer Dongwoo from everyone’s favourite ‘Infinite’ is one of the most outrageously cheerful people I have ever stumbled across and I adore him for it. Overflowing with aegyo and bouncing with a bubbling energy, Dongwoo gives his all in every situation (even in sleep). The thing that most endears Dongwoo to me though is his ability to laugh at himself and the lighthearted way he accepts every ounce of joke-y banter thrown his way with one of his infamous gummy smiles and without a hint of embarrassment.
Infinite, as a team, lead the pack for variety shows and boast a chemistry as a group which makes their every appearance hilarious, Dongwoo aids them in this by being a bubbly force to be reckoned with. What’s not to love!!!
Zico has definitely been making a name for himself lately. With solo projects running alongside his work as the leader of the hugely popular ‘Block B’, if you’ve managed to not see Zico this year then I highly recommend you spend a bit of time on YouTube getting to know him and his fellow members, one of the biggest groups of dorks that Kpop has to offer. However, it isn’t ‘Block B’ that I wish to talk about, but Zico himself.
Zico has one of the most happy-inducing eye smiles I have ever seen, it lights up his entire face he and his brothers share a contagiously silly sense of humour which has them constantly making their own entertainment and bringing joy to the people watching. Zico has the unique ability to still look manly and full of swagger even when performing aegyo or creating hilarity.
Rookie group ‘Up10tion’ boasts an almost greedy grand total of 10 members, all of whom are adorable to behold, incredibly talented and extremely funny, but one member who stands out particularly well for me is adorable rapper Bit-to. Always smiling and quietly silly, it’s hard to keep your eyes off of this little ray of blue-haired sunshine and you wouldn’t want to even if you could because you really don’t ever know what he will be up to. Bit-to’s deep, rumbling voice offers a surprisingly brilliant contrast to his sweet, almost accidental aegyo and he tempers his infectious laugh and smile with a slowness of motion that makes his every act more adorable and all the more hilarious.
Bit-to might not be as loud as some of the other rappers on this list but he has an equal ability to entice happiness in me with a simple smile, this smile in particular is one of my favourites.
Not to be ignored, Baro from ‘B1A4’ is another rapper with a rumbling, low tone rap which is manly and full of swagger, however that isn’t the thing that endears him to me most, my favourite part of Baro is his insatiable appetite for hilarity and his overflow of positive energy. Interestingly, I first stumbled across B1A4 not from their music but from their series of ‘Hello Baby’ in which Baro proved himself one of the sweetest, happiest and most easy-going trainee-appas I have seen on the show. He approached the youngsters with enthusiasm and played with them like he was still a kid himself, now whenever I look at him all I see is that sweet young guy lying on the floor with a little girl who’d been distressed only moments before drawing princesses and colouring dresses.
If that wasn’t enough, just checking out the ‘B1A4’ music videos is enough to have me smiling from ear to ear. The band, as a whole, sport an adorable ability to laugh at themselves and Baro proves that manly can be cute too at every given opportunity.
In my opinion, ‘Monsta X’s Jooheon is the proud bearer of two awards; the first title is ‘King of Aegyo’, a well-deserved and highly established title allocated because of his patented baby voice and irresistible adorableness and ‘Happy Virus’. I think it is the ‘gap appeal’ of these rappers that makes their ‘happy’ so very happy and Jooheon is no exception. Full of charisma and rocking a manly charm on stage you’d be forgiven for thinking that Jooheon could be in some way intimidating but that simply isn’t true.
A wonderful sense of comedic timing and a heart-warming ability to laugh at himself helps Jooheon stand out from the crowd; it is his eternal optimism that draws you in and it is his multi-faceted personality that keeps you there. ‘Monsta X’, as a group, are wonderfully ridiculous in most of the things they do and its easy to see how Jooheon fits into that mix.
G-Dragon is many things; he’s a fashionista, a leader, a visionary and a trendsetter, and he has a smile that is almost as influential as he is. You have to love a highly respected, massively talented, tattooed rapper who can look adorable while hugging a giant teddy bear without affecting his reputation at all.
Minho is probably one of the derpiest men in Kpop, but he’s also one of the most attractive, one of the most talented and one of the funniest. If we’re going to talk about the ‘happy virus’ and it’s infectious nature then we can’t not talk about the smile that stretches my face whenever I see ‘Hello Baby’ era Minho with tiny Yoogeun. So cute!!