- Name: Hong Da Bin
- Other name: LIVE
- Date of birth: 01/01/1993
- Status: in activity
- Starting career: 2015
- Genre: Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B
- Label/Agency: Dream Perfect Regime (DPR) (2015)
Artist’s Social Network
DPR LIVE, real name Hong DaBin, is a South-Korean rapper member of the Dream Perfect Regime collective. His career started in 2015 with the track TILL I DIE and since then, he has been achieving success after success, his and the crew’s talent are even recognized by artists such as Dumbfoundead, Jessi and others. In the space of 3 years DPR LIVE has established itself as one of the major artists of the Korean urban scene.
Hong DaBin was born in January 1st, 1993, seemingly in Pocheon, South Korea. When he had 5, his family moved on Guam, an Island located in the Filipino sea at the edge of the Pacific Ocean where he grew up until the 10th grade according to an interview he made for Billboard in March 2018. He also would have lived on Saipan, an Island of the North Marianne’s archipelagos located in the north of Guam. Those two Island have the status of unincorporated territory from the United States which means they have their own governor elected and a Parliament, that the U.S Constitution applies only partially, but still they teach English at school. However, because his parents only speak Korean, he learned at the same time the “Land of the Morning Calm” language. Then, he’s fluent in both English and Korean.
As a teenager, Hong DaBin wasn’t quite a big fan of school, he hated maths, grammar and didn’t really loved literature. However, he loved sciences such as biology but also subjects like History.
More generally, he was wondering about life and himself a lot, had a strong self-awareness and was naturally attracted by psychology or philosophy, even thinking of studying it at the university. He also loves everything related to communication and personal development.
The year following his return to South Korea, he did his military service. He was quite young and, for two years his life had been cadenced by his superior’s orders. Two years of daily routine in which he had to do everything he was asked for, in which he couldn’t choose when he to eat, when to sleep and so on.
Nevertheless, without this experience, may be today Hong DaBin would not been called DPR LIVE.
Indeed, he admitted that the military service had been an opportunity to learn to be patient, to focus more and better but also to evaluate what he truly wanted. If he had always liked music and that after hearing his voice recorded he kind of knew he had the potential to do it as a professional; his future however seemed to head more toward teaching. Moreover, because it was one of his mom’s wishes and he was above all a music amateur, he wasn’t really planning throwing himself in music professionally.
In this way, this is this life leaded by obligations but also all the free-time he had during his military service that had truly incited Hong DaBin starting to write. Gradually his though evolved in lyrics and what had been, at the beginning, only a vague appeal quickly became a real passion, a conviction.
His military service over, it was with a new ardour that Hong DaBin decided only to dedicate himself to music.
“Being in the army and being very limited, and being told what to do every second of your life,that really changed my perspective. So when I first came out of the army I was like, “I’m going to kill it, I’m going to kill everybody”. I had everything aligned, my goals, my purpose. I knew what I wanted to do, which was to make absolute quality music whatever the story is”
DPR LIVE in an interview with Billboard, March 2018
Dream Perfect Regime, a family united by passion
It’s here that the Dream Perfect Regime (DPR) collective steps in.
Dream Perfect Regime would kind of be the perfect example for an illustration of the fate concept. Seven person who had grown up all over the world and who, by mere chance, met each other in Seoul, fueled by the same aim.
LIVE and DPR IAN (or Christian Yu, real name Yu Barom), who is none other than the visual director of the crew, met each other in Seoul few years before the crew creation. It seems they have been friends since, at least, 2013 even 2011 according to some Breakdance video you can find on YouTube. There is indeed some videos of Christian Yu on YouTube and Hong DaBin is on some of them. From time to time the rapper would actually had danced a bit.
A few years later, it’s DPR REM (real name Scott Kim) who joined the duo after he had met Christian Yu then becoming the creative director / executive producer of the crew.
Since that moment, other members had gradually joined the crew, one of the last members to join being DPR CREAM who they would have met after the release of TILL I DIE namely over 2015.
(Ed: If you want to know more about the crew and its members we have a special article about it just here).
However, in order to understand better how DPR LIVE succeeded it’s important to bear in mind that the crew literally started out with nothing. Among others, for two years DPR REM and DPR IAN had been working for other artists on the visual production to finally be able to launch their own projects through Dream Perfect Regime.
“We started with zero capital. No investor, no fancy equipment, no nothing. That’s why we had to start as a visual team […] For a good two years, DPR REM and DPR IAN busted their asses shooting for other artists in order to help fund any and all of our projects during that time.”
DPR LIVE for Billboard, January 2018
Started out with nothing materially as much as technically.
“The second biggest challenge, I guess, was the fact that we were completely clueless. [Laughs.] I didn’t even know what it meant to “mix songs,” or how to get distribution for my music. It was all trial and error, because none of us had any prior experience. We had no money or any real knowledge as to how this [music industry] really works― all we had was just a whole lot of untamed passion and a dream.”
DPR LIVE for Billboard, January 2018
Galvanised by that shared passion warmth DPR LIVE unveiled his first title, TILL I DIE firstly on SoundCloud in July 27th, 2015, and the M/V in August 22nd that same year, with, of course, the crew in charge of the visual production.
This song has a really special meaning for the rapper since it’s with that one he realised his passion breadth for music. As he said in an interview, before TILL I DIE, he wasn’t really taking music seriously professionally speaking. That track gave him the opportunity to realise that he truly and lastingly wanted to work in music. More than a simple track, TILL I DIE is a statement, a statement towards his fans, towards himself that his future was nowhere else except in rap.
“God Bless you, mo’fuckers hate on me? I believe this shit really, truly meant for me; Imma rap till I die mofucka all on me. “
DPR LIVE in TILL I DIE
Months went by and it’s on the EP P.O.E.M by Owen Ovadoz, released in January 15th, 2016, that people can hear DPR LIVE again in featuring with ELO on the track 긍정 (Positive).
Nevertheless, it’s with the EUNG FREESTYLE the rapper’s career truly took another way. The EUNG FREESTYLE, it’s nothing but a project initiated by DPR. Indeed, the crew wanted to give more visibility to the Korean Rap scene, to show the world the extent of the Korean rappers’ skills. People can say whatever they want, but it’s a fact that, in 2015 the KHip-Hop wasn’t as worldwide known as today, which keep reinforcing the admiration we can feel towards DPR. The bet was far from easy and one can wonder what had been the recipe of this nowadays KHip-Hop classic? For those who don’t know already, we could say that the EUNG FREESTYLE is kind of an adaptation of the mmm Freestyle by the crew Hott Headzz. The producers Groovy Room reworked the original instrumental and it’s obviously Sik-K, PUNCHNELLO, Owen Ovadoz, Flowsik and DPR LIVE who rapped on it. For the visual, it’s once again the DPR team which made it.
Driven by this success, DPR LIVE collaborated once more with PUNCHNELLO on the track GOD BLESS and its retro and zesty vibe released in June 1st, 2016. It’s Paloalto who made the instrumental.
The same month the track Dream Perfect is unveiled on SoundCloud, more exactly in June 22nd with a more mind-blowing production giving off strong vibes. It has been produced by the Team One Sound also known to have worked with, for instance, groups like Super Junior, B.A.P and so on.
A few days later, in June 28th, people can heard again DPR LIVE on the THIRST M/V with, that time, LAYBACKSOUNDS in charge of the production which is none other than the group DPR CREAM originally came from.
To TILL I DIE from THIRST, if there is one recurrent pattern in LIVE’s tracks, it’s the expression of that will of success, succeeding together alongside his crew.
“Dream Perfect; you’ll already know, already know; we’re imperfect; but no; we keep it going, keep it going.”
DPR LIVE in Dream Perfect
Coming to you Live, a revelation
Nevertheless, 2016 had also been the occasion to prepare a project with even huge scope for the crew.
Indeed, the EP Coming To You Live, officially released in March 15th, 2017, had required around one year of preparation. Even bigger was the stake that the EP was not only supposed to mark the official debut of DPR LIVE but had also been really hard to make since it had a lot of collaborations, which means a lot of different artistic visions. The representation of the season cycle at the back of the sleeve is, by the way, a metaphor for the variety of the songs and themes that they wanted to put into that project. There are 7 tracks and just as much artists who joined to DPR LIVE for that album. Those collaborations would had been possible thanks to the network REM and IAN have little by little developed through the crew extern projects; but also thanks to EUNG FREESTYLE success. It’s also worth noting that 5 of the tracks (Cheese N Wine, Laputa, Know Me, the Interlude and To Myself) had been produced by DPR CREAM who officially joined the crew.
De facto, some of their tracks were already available beforehand.
The first M/V of the album to be released was Know Me, in collaboration with Dean in March 1st, 2017. About that collaboration, we know that LIVE has a huge admiration for Dean’s artistry and as much respect for the Club Eskimo approach. Actually, he had always wanted to work with Dean and it’s quite naturally that he send him a demo of Know Me as well as the general concept behind the song. In a matter of few weeks, Dean send him a proposition back for his part and it’s how the track came true.
In March 7th followed the Please M/V in collaboration with the rappers G2, Kim Hyo-Eun and Dumbfoundead. It’s worth noting that Dumbfoundead is one of LIVE’s favourite artist and that the crew are globally fans of the Ktown rapper. LIVE even admitted that, when he was young, he used to go every day online to see if there were anything new from Dumbfoundead; he would had seen every battle and listened to all his album at their very much released. To get back to Please; the crew had simply made listen the first-draft to Dumbfoundead and the later would have accepted the very next day. For those who wouldn’t know, in the M/V introduction it’s no one else than CLINE, LIVE’s cousin that one can see!
The night before the EP release, in March 14th so, there are two more M/V unveiled.
Right Here Right Now with Loco and Jay Park but also Laputa, in a really wavy atmosphere featuring Crush. Notable is that Laputa would be a reference to the imaginary island from the animation movie Castle in the Sky by Hayao Miyazaki, itself inspired from the Gulliver’s travels novel by Jonathan Swift which was published in 1721. All in all, Laputa would be a legendary island overflowing with resources, similar in its greatness to the myth of the Babel tower.
Finally, the last M/V from the EP is Cheese N Wine and its jazzy prod which had been unveiled the month after the project release or in April 1st, 2017.
In March 28th, people could hear LIVE again on the M/V by Somdef Ring Ring Ring also featuring Verbal Jint, Paloalto and Car, the garden.
In May 25th, LIVE also made an apparition on the album Bleached by Loco for the track Movie Shoot, meanwhile the next month or in June 5th, he joined this time Sik-K on his album H.A.L.F with the eponymous track Have A Little Fun.
However, he also collaborated with less known artists as he also raps in featuring on the track Your Way by SOULBIN IN THE AIR with OHIORABBIT in October 13th on SoundCloud.
Her, an affirmation
Yet the rapper and the collective don’t rest on their laurels as in December 7th, LIVE unveiled a second EP, Her, this one a lot more personal.
Indeed, with that EP composed by 5 tracks, Hong DaBin wanted to deliver a more personal and intimate project leaded by topics such as love and relationships. Firstly, a solo project first because the crew agreed on the fact that, in a purely creative and experimental purpose it would be an enriching experience for LIVE to do this by himself but also because, like REM explained it in an interview for the magazine Rolling Stone India, Hong DaBin wanted to give the most true expression of himself for his audience.
“It was solo for being not only for his own experimental purposes, but also in that he really wanted to zone in on his artistry and portray his story, and really give the fans like, ‘Okay, this is me, really like raw, without anybody around. This is the music I want to do right now, the vibes I want to put out.”
DPR REM for Rolling Stone India, October 2018
As a consequence, Her is based on LIVE’s love-stories experiences, but is also a mirror of the relation toward love, to the relationships the artist’s generation have.
“Before, back then, our parents used to have letters and shit, dating. Nowadays it’s just [social media], you meet at the club… But I wanted to really bring romance to that. Because that’s like us right now. That’s how we get down, right? So I wanted to make it relatable to both genders and I think it came out the way I wanted it to.”
DPR LIVE for Billboard, March 2018
Here again, the Jasmine M/V is unveiled two months before the EP released or in October 8th. From the picture work by the crew to the instrumental the producer Code Kunst made, if we have to describe the atmosphere of the track in a word, it would probably be tenderness. Tenderness and gentleness.
The Martini Blue M/V is unveiled the day of the Her release so in December 7th, its addictive production is, that time made by DPR CREAM and as always the visual is as much astonishing.
Finally, people had to wait until December 12th for the Text Me M/V, which is as colourful as the song.
This relentless work is rewarded by a N°8 rank at the Billboard’s World Album Chart; but more generally, those series of success had also allowed the team to have his own production studio. It’s especially meaningful as, like LIVE sometimes explains in interviews, at their debut DPR didn’t have an official place to meet. In order to work they used to meet each other in coffee shop or also karaoke rooms (Ed: For those who would might not be familiar with Korean culture, we have to precise that Karaoke in South Korea are private room that you could book for a group, it’s not a collective space like it’s for us Westerners; but it’s also a place where you can frequently meet).
Then, we can openly say that 2017 had been a real achievement for the crew.
2018, a year rhythmed by a world tour
It’s through a collaboration that DPR LIVE opened 2018 on the track ‘HOLIDAY by SUZY released in January 29th.
In March, 13th Action! featuring Gray is unveiled. The track should have been in the EP Her, however it didn’t fit with the album concept, so they didn’t put it in the album. Here the emphasis was more about offering a light and very visual track, which can be felt in the atmosphere drawing from the song, really heterogeneous in its structure.
And finally, in June 12th the Playlist M/V is released, in keeping with the season as everything in the track is reminding the summer warmth. As they said it in an interview, Playlist stands out from their previous projects and was a risk-taking especially because of the track structure which can be divided in three different atmospheres and is yet keeping a consistency as a whole. Besides, in the M/V, CREAM and CLINE can be seen, and, little production secret: the wall scene was in fact filmed in the floor, which would had seemingly been kind of painful for LIVE, let’s just appreciate how devoted this artist can be!
In March 16th he also took part to the well-known SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, on the “Korea Spotlight” scene besides artists such as Crush or Lee Hi.
Notwithstanding, if 2018 is a special year for the crew and the rapper, it’s also and above all because of the 2018 CTYL TOUR, announced in July, and with more than 20 dates covering North America, Europe and Pacific Asia (Eli’s note: if you’re interested I did a review article based on my own experience here). The 2018 CTYL TOUR was, according to REM and LIVE in several interviews, the opportunity for the crew to meet their fans, to thank them by offering a sincere and unforgettable performance; more like a sort of family meeting than a concert.
“I don’t want our tour to just be your typical ‘show’ or ‘performance.’ I want fans to gear up for an actual party- a family reunion. Anybody that supports DPR knows up front that our culture goes hand in hand with family.”
LIVE for Rolling Stone India, October 2018.
An artist who lives for his music
Bad puns aside, there is a reason which pushed Hong DaBin to choose LIVE as a name stage. Or at least two. LIVE, first of all, in order to always remind him to live his life fully, both in failure and success, ups and down, but also to remain faithful to himself. In interview, LIVE explained that he always tries to make a music which reflects him truly, in keeping with who he is and what he feels.
This feeling is recurring when one talks about LIVE.
First in his influences. Globally, artists who inspire him the most are those who succeeded in standing out thanks to their unique musical identity.
“I really get inspired by artists that have created their own sound and colour, almost to the point where as soon as you turn on the song, you just know who it is instantly”
DPR LIVE for HipHopKr, March 2017.
He had for instance already made references to artists such as Daniel Caesar, Bryson Tyler, Travis Scott, Vic Mensa, Beezino, Crush or even Dean and Jay Park. It’s interesting to note that the artist’s influences don’t have any borders. If when he was young he used to listen to American artists a lot, for him Korean music has its own flavour as well and he yearns for spreading it more globally.
Like with his view on collaborations, for him it is essential to meet beforehand with the person he is going to work with because it’s thanks to that one can really understand who the person is, what is drawing from them, how one can clearly catch their musical universe. For LIVE, it’s by getting to know the person that one’ll understand them. From then on, music comes out naturally.
Nevertheless, that sincerity need can also be felt in his relationship with success.
Whether it is Hong DaBin or the collective, it’s above all the passion which leads their work. They want to be thriving of course, but it’s not their first goal. What matters the most for them it’s to offer quality projects.
And then, facing this lightning success, LIVE stays cool because for him to grant too much importance to numbers leads to unproductive work and distorts creation.
“I try my best not to focus on stuff like that. The more you start thinking about certain stats and whatnot, I just believe it tends to really limit and almost negatively impact your career.”
DPR LIVE for Rolling Stone India, October 2018.
For him what matter the most is to satisfy his fans, to stay humble and grateful regarding success.
“I’d rather just make sure I can satisfy my fans – because they are the ones that matter most. I remember when we first started an we’d get hyped off a couple thousand views. Always being thankful and grateful for where you currently are – that’s the type of mentality I’m working on these days. I just want to live in the present and deliver to the people I care about.”
DPR LIVE for i-D.Vice, September 2018
Then, outside the scene, LIVE dedicates all his free-time to music and doesn’t leave his studio as long as he has not achieve the schedule he had planned. And, if it can sometimes be difficult giving himself up to such a rhythm, for him it’s only secondary because he just wants to give his very best.
In the future, LIVE hopes that the DPR collective will always be motivated by this thirst of challenge, that will of borders crossing. That, together, they will keep following that creative effusion, this discussion work/method which is leading their whole production process, allowing them to constantly push the public expectations.
LIVE hopes making a music which can go beyond the language barriers. A music people could appreciate without necessarily having to understand the meaning of the lyrics. A music people may sort of feel/live. And, above all, LIVE and more generally DPR, through their approach, their hard work and their success want to contribute to a new impetus of creativity in South Korea, to a new generation which wouldn’t be any more stopped by limits such as financing; who would be just giving free rein to its’ imagination.
Korea Joongang Daily
Rolling Stone India
Marie Claire Korea – Translated by dprdabin/tumblr
Periscope Live 062017 – Everything AOMG Channel