THE MEMBERS OF BLOCK B
"Seven ugly dudes, trying to make it. . . . "
"I'm not ugly. So it's six."
Where to start with this guy? Let's try the name--Zico went to high school in Japan, where the girls would give each other nicknames by taking the first syllable of the person's name and combining it with -co. Do that and slur the j a little, and Ji Ho becomes Zico.
Or "Ziaco." Yeah, he says it that way sometimes--no one knows why. The theory is that it began as "Z. I. -co" and then took on a life of its own. I guess as long as Zico doesn't end up using an unpronounceable symbol as his name, we can consider ourselves lucky.
Anyway, Zico makes music. Like, all the time. He probably wrote a song--a good, complex song--in the time it took you to read the above two paragraphs. He composes and writes lyrics for and produces most of Block B's songs, and when he's not doing that, he composes and writes lyrics and produces music for other people.
Oh, he also raps. Very well. He's highly energetic, and as a result people often praise his speed (especially because he is able to rap long and hard despite being asthmatic). But he's not just a speed rapper--he's quite flexible and pays a lot of attention to the phrasing and timing of his raps so that they fit musically into the songs.
Zico is considered something of a bad boy in South Korea, although by American hip-hop standards, he's pretty tame. He has a large tattoo over his heart--of his mother. He once made an obscenity-laced mixtape song about the importance of doing well in school. He was involved in a drunk-driving accident, but he was neither drunk nor driving. He's going to have to shoot a little old lady or something if he wants to keep up here.
Park Kyung and Zico met in elementary school in the Mapo district of Seoul. Somehow, despite the fact that Park Kyung went to high school in the United States and New Zealand while Zico went to high school in Japan, the two managed to collaborate on a large number of rap songs, which eventually got them a label and Block B.
Park Kyung almost didn't make it, though--he is short and not a great dancer, and looking good is considered extremely important in the mainstream Korean music industry. (Sounding good is way more optional--they are not shy about using Autotune.) He was even kicked out of Block B for a while, but he managed to work his way back in before its debut.
And it's a good thing he did! Park Kyung is a delightful performer--he has the highest voice of Block B's three rappers, and his delivery is often playful and humorous. Although it's hard to not be overshadowed by Zico (who just finished another three songs--and what have you done with your day?), Park Kyung is also an accomplished composer and producer.
You may hear Park Kyung described as a cucumber or even as a greasy cucumber. The cucumber thing is a nickname from childhood--his face was thought to resemble a cucumber or a carrot in shape--while "greasy" is a Korean term used to describe someone who is cheesy and flirtatious.
What happened to the second period in his name? I don't know, but P.O seems to leave it out fairly consistently, so I'll do the same.
P.O has a remarkable voice--deep, warm, and raspy. Think Rick Ross (P.O's acknowledged role model), MCA, Lil Jon, or Ja Rule. But while everyone praises P.O's voice, I appreciate the fact that he really uses it--he's good at expressing emotions (he studied acting in high school), and he adjusts his voice to fit the tone of the song so that it never seems out of place. He is an energetic presence on stage and in videos, and he has been taking on a larger role as a composer and lyricist.
He is the group's maknae, a Korean term for the youngest person in a group. Traditionally the maknae is supposed to be subservient, docile, and obedient to the other members.
P.O is the first to admit that he's not a very good maknae.
Taeil is the lead vocalist in a group that has four of them, which should give you an idea of how well he sings. He has a broad vocal range and can comfortably sing high notes, plus his voice has a wonderful sweet, soft tone. Taeil never sang much R&B before joining Block B--he was more of a ballad singer--and he didn't join the group until a few months before its debut. Nonetheless, he's adapted remarkably well to R&B and hip-hop.
Taeil is the shortest group member, and that combined with his boyish looks has given rise to the nickname Baby Taeil, which he hates. He's the oldest member of the group and at first was quite shy, but he has opened up and demonstrated a wicked sense of humor. He is one of the group's more-flamboyant dressers, he has multiple tattoos, and he sported a pierced eyebrow for a while there, although it seems to be gone now. Taeil is also a big animal lover and has a large collection of tropical fish--he'll even bust out the scientific names for fish when he feels it necessary. Which he sometimes does.
Jaehyo hails from Busan, a large city on the southern coast of Korea. In high school, Jaehyo was what is known in Korea as an ulzzang. The word means "best face," and wanna-be ulzzangs (who can be men or women) enter what are essentially beauty pageants on the Internet. Jaehyo was such a successful ulzzang that he was featured on a television show about exceptionally handsome men! He was able to parlay this into a position as a trainee for the Korean pop group Beast, but that did not work out, and eventually he was recruited into Block B.
Jaehyo has the lowest voice of Block B's four vocalists, and his voice can have an edgy quality that is well-suited to Block B's harder sound.
He admits to having been a bit of a wild child, and he has a tattoo on his left arm because he let a friend practice tattooing there. Jaehyo is sometimes called the orange or tangerine hyung (hyung is a Korean word meaning older brother), or you'll see the other members pretend to peel something off him. That's because the Korean term for teasing someone literally means to peel them, and Jaehyo is easy to tease. Very easy.
U-Kwon was born in Suwon, a historic walled city located near Seoul. In high school, he sang and played guitar in a band. While performing, he became interested in the dancing that went on at concerts. He started to study dance, and eventually his older brother took on a series of menial jobs so that his family could afford to send U-Kwon to dance academy.
He was one of the earliest members of Block B, along with Zico and Park Kyung. (And like Park Kyung, he was kicked out of the group for a while, but he managed to get back in.) U-Kwon's voice can range fairly high, he'll often do vocal effects for songs, and he is a capable rapper. As a dancer, U-Kwon is both extremely flexible and physically powerful, so his dancing can be quite explosive.
Like Taeil, U-Kwon loves animals, and he often plays with the cats and dogs he encounters on set. That has given rise to the fan nickname Kitty. I have no idea how he feels about that one.
B-Bomb's name is a play on the Korean word for "exceptional," and he certainly lives up to it when dancing--everyone in Block B who is not U-Kwon or B-Bomb is always saying that they can't dance, and if I had to compare myself to those two every day, I'd probably say the same.
B-Bomb is a good singer with a very nice falsetto, but dance is where he really shines. While U-Kwon reminds me of Gene Kelly (you know, a modern, hip-hop Gene Kelly--just stay with me here) with his remarkable natural ability, B-Bomb reminds me more of Fred Astaire: A thinner, more-angular guy who really understands his body and how to use it. If B-Bomb slipped on a banana peel at the top of a flight of stairs, he would probably 1. stay calm, 2. manage to look totally cool the whole way down, and 3. land on his feet.