One short word, ‘mulberry’, is full of negative images. It is a slang term for drugs and used to disparage Trot. ‘there is a mulberry’ is primarily used in negative cases. Lee Joo-yeop, a lyricist and CEO of JNH Music, wrote a column titled “Aesthetic bankruptcy of adult music” in a daily newspaper two years ago, pointing out the musical regression of ppongjjak (Trot). Even if it is not Lee’s writing, the musical perception of Trot is generally not good. No matter how much they try to communicate with the public, the level of lyrics is usually low, and the accompaniment is uniform. So Trot is rarely the subject of ‘reviews’.
In this atmosphere, one album has been a topic of discussion recently. This is the album ‘Pong’ made by Producer 250. Intuitively, ‘Bong’ was put forward without any formula. The album title is interesting, but it’s even more interesting if you know the background. Lee Ho-Hyung, who changed his real name and created his active name, 250, was a producer who played music at the opposite point to Pong. He made beats for rapper Essence and participated as a producer on K-pop music such as BoA, NCT 127, and ITZY.
The producer, who was at the forefront of the trend, suddenly fell in love with mulberry. Before making an album, he delved deeply into mulberry and made a documentary called ‘Finding mulberry’ about his journey. It was a project that I started with the mindset that I could do more various things under the name of Pong by freeing myself from the obsession with foreign countries and cutting-edge technology. But the process was not easy. The difficulty can be inferred that it took seven years to produce the album.
Pongjjak is a song that everyone in Korea knows, but I wanted it to sound different. I wanted it to sound like a sweet yet new pongjjak, and I wanted it to be a sad song, but I wanted it to be fun. For this purpose, famous artists participated in the album. Like a legend, guitarist Lee Jung-san and the master of the trot electronic organ convinced Na Un-do, and the lyrics were received by Yang In-ja, a lyricist who dominated an era. The lyrics were reborn through the voice of Seungwon Oh, who sang the theme song of ‘Dooly the Baby Dinosaur’. Korea’s leading saxophonist Lee Jung-Sik performed a cabaret salon-like performance in ‘Royal Blue’.
Among the masters, the most notable person is Kim Soo-il, the keyboard player and producer of ‘Doctor Shinbaram Lee’. He has always worked with Dr Lee and made music together, but the spotlight was directed only to Dr Lee. Did he have a sense of unity as a producer? 250, who wanted to show respect for Kim Soo-il’s music, arranged the first song of ‘Pong’ as ‘Everything was a dream’ sung by Kim Soo-il. Whether it was a dream or a fantasy, the music of Kim Soo-il, who was weary, was played against the background of a sound that created a strange atmosphere. With the song of this master who humbled himself by saying, “Because I am not a singer,” ‘Bong’ has become a pongjjak with a new aesthetic. Good music transcends time, generation, and genre like this.