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Just a few months ago there was a bus strike in the city where I'm based. It was a pain for everyone involved, forcing people to change their daily commute options, and forcing me to take a completely different bus route using a different company, adding around one hour onto a journey that was already tedious enough. As a person about as accustomed to bus 'chit-chat' as a wasp to Winter, most of my journey is filled with music coming through the typical Apple in-ear headphones (classy I know). It's not the best way to get from A to B, but there is something important to me about starting my day with music. It can make a drab start uplifting, change my mood completely, or just provide me with a welcome distraction from the numerous children that entertain themselves in slightly less mature ways than my musical route.
Anyway, to shift back onto the topic in hand, it was during this bus strike I decided to seek new music, and as an artist by the name of Zion.T was constantly appearing in my recommendations, it felt like I naturally had to see what the fuss was about. At the time I decided to embark on this commitment, the South-Korean artist had just released a brand new single titled "Snow," a wonderfully sentimental song written about the hope one feels for snow to fall around winter time, featuring legendary artist Lee Moon-Sae.
Despite being in a complete foreign language, "Snow" had an almost cathartic instant connection with me, taking me on a journey. With the track's unique colour, it made me feel raw emotions that so many songs have failed to do over the last few years. It restrains itself sonically and instead allows both voices to firmly take the front seat, allowing the listener to truly connect and feel the meaning behind the music. I had to take a minute to sit and ponder what I had heard at first, contemplating whether I had quite possibly heard the best Seasonal track released in my lifetime, or whether it was one of the best tracks period.
It was this instant connection that forced me to delve right into his catalogue of music. Despite the numerous singles, one studio album and two extended plays, there was only one constant; a quirky style of music unable to be compared to any other artist's. Zion.T effortlessly pairs up juxtaposing elements of music and makes everything his own. From the satirical "The Song," to the purely experimental track "O," he'll talk about anything from the way you look without makeup right to how he hopes his latest single doesn't go number one (the latter ironically coming from the aforementioned track "The Song" that reached the top of the charts).
This refreshing and idiosyncratic approach to music places Zion.T in a league of his own. Unable to be dragged down into the current climax of instant validation, Kim Hae-sol is a true artist that puts his own stamp on things, making music his own way and still managing to appeal to a huge audience who are willing to lap up his every word. He's an icon without needing to be told, a forward-thinking genius who instead of appealing to the here and now will wait for everyone else to catch up. and a musician that rightfully deserves his praise and place at the apex of Korean solo music.
Despite living life behind sunglasses, Zion.T has the keenest eye in music, expertly bringing his own colour and vibrancy into an industry that occasionally appears formulaic. Using his poignant hit single "Yangwha Brdg" as an example, the South-Korean shows how simple it is to achieve perfection in a song, enlisting traditional instruments to simply aid the magnificently distinctive voice Hae-Sol possesses.
Showing no signs of slowing down, it's never too late to get into Zion.T, and I seriously recommend going out of your way to giving the now firmly established artist a chance. After all, if he can get an inpatient, short-fused guy like me through extended daily commutes, he can quite frankly offer something for everyone, and just in case you didn't know where to start with such an artist, I've taken the pleasure of including some handy links so you too can be taken on a musical journey you won't want to finish, I hope you enjoy.
A wonderfully vibrant track, "The Song" is a satirical offering that is hopefully optimistic that people won't memorise the lyrics or make it as popular as his other singles. These lyrics are clearly tongue-in-cheek, as the insanely catchy release deserved its place at the top of the charts, and is a favourite of many.
Full of thick bass, "Eat" shows off the outstanding voice Zion.T possesses, but also his almost unrivalled ability to write a song that forces you to think. It's a charmingly romantic song that will make you second-hand blush, and something you'd be a fool not to listen to.
''No Make Up''
Sticking to romance, "No Make Up" says all the things a person wants to hear, stating that natural beauty is the best beauty, and spinning compliment after compliment. It's both lyrically and sonically fantastic, and no superlative in the world can do a song like this justice.
Proving he is as brave and bold as he is talented, this scathing look at the K-Pop industry features none other than K-Pop megastar G-Dragon. An unlikely collaboration, the two play off each other fantastically and offer a song that occasionally comes across as a musical debate. Offering perspective and brilliance, "Complex" is a gem of a song that you can't afford to sleep on.