Thursday, November 11, 2010

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 43. Leessang

[Read more reviews from the Korean from the Library Mixer. To join, click here.]

[Series Index]

43.  Leessang [리쌍]

Years of Activity:  2002-present

Members:
Gary [개리]- rap
Gil [길] - rap

Discography:
Leessang of Honey Family (2002)
Re: Development [재, 계발] (2003)
Library of Soul (2005)
Black Sun (2007)
Baek-Ah Cuts the Strings [伯牙絶絃(백아절현)] (2009)
Hexagonal (2009)

Representative Song:  It's Not Me Laughing (feat. Ali) [내가 웃는게 아니야], from Library of Soul


내가 웃는게 아니야
It's Not Me Laughing

날 사랑한다는 말 천번을 넘게 내 맘 구석구석 빼곡히 써놓고
The words, "I love you," you wrote over thousand times filling up every corner of my heart
이제 와 나를 망부석 여인처럼 남겨둔 채 방 한구석 먼지처럼 나를 밀어둔 채
Now you leave me like a woman turned into stone, push me aside like dust in the corner
헤어지자 말하는 너의 뺨을 나도 모르게 때리고
You say let us part; I somehow slap your cheek and
내 발목을 잡는 땅을 억지로 뿌리치며 한참을 걸으며 다짐했어
Walked for long, shaking off the ground that grabbed by ankle, and swore,
다신 내 곁에  널 두지 않겠다고
That I will never put you next to me
여태 널 지키기 위해 했던 나의 노력 그 모든걸 다 오려
All of my efforts so far to protect you, cut them all out,
저 달리는 차들 속으로 던지고 눈물 섞인 웃음을 짓고
Throw them into those running cars, make a smile mixed with tears,
어떻게든 너보다 잘 살 거라는 믿음 저 짙은 어둠속에 새기며
Carve into that thick darkness the faith that I will somehow end up better than you

내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you
내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you

몇 일이나 지났을까
How many days passed
늦가을 쓸쓸한 거리처럼 물가에 홀로 앉은 낚시꾼처럼
Like the lonely late autumn streets like a fisherman sitting alone by the water
외로움과 기다림에 지친 난 끝없는 줄담배에 기침을 하며
Tired of loneliness and waiting, I cough at the endless stream of cigarettes
미친 듯이 추억속으로 빨려들어가
And get sucked into the memories like mad
애교 섞인 목소리에 꺾인 나뭇가지처럼 쓰러져
To her flirty voice I fall like a broken twig
그녀의 품에 안기고 달콤한 꿈에 부풀어
Held in her arms, dream sweet dreams
영원히 나를 붙들어매라며 농담을 하고
I joke, tie me down forever
어디를 가도 누구를 만나도 언제나 둘이기에
No matter where we go, no matter who we meet, there were always two,
즐거운 분위기에 우린 항상 행복해
Always fun times, so we are always happy
했었지 그랬었지 하지만 이젠 그녀는 내 곁에 없지
It was like so, that's right, but now she's not next to me
난 또 외로움에 밤길을 걷지
I again walk the night streets in loneliness

그대 떠나보낸 내 가슴에
In my heart that sent you away
눈물이 차올라 날 흔들며 아프게 해
tears fill up, shaking me and hurting me
그대 떠나보낸 내 두 눈에
To my two eyes that sent you away
어둠이 다가와 또 난 -
darkness comes. Again I -

너를 잊을래 난 너를 잊을래
Forget you, I'll forget you
아무리 외쳐봐도 그게 안돼
No matter how I scream it I cannot do
너를 아껴주지 못해 또 후회하네
I could not adore you, I regret again
너를 잊을래 난 너를 잊을래
Forget you, I'll forget you
아무리 외쳐봐도 그게 안돼
No matter how I scream it I cannot do
네가 웃던 기억 속에 또 미쳐가네
Inside the memories of your smile I go mad again

내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you
내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you


너 없는 아픔에 모든 건 눈물을 흘리며 코를 푸네
Because of the pain without you I cry and blow my nose at everything
(남자답게 웃고 싶지만)
(Although I want to be a man and laugh)
매 순간 멍해지는 습관 고쳐지질 않고
I cannot fix the habit, I space out
(남자답게 웃고 싶지만)
(Although I want to be a man and laugh)
남자답게 난 웃고싶지만
I want to be a man and laugh but
밥 한숟갈 떠 넣기가 이렇게 힘들수가
How it is so hard to put one spoonful of food in my mouth
날 위로하는 친구의 웃음도 내 눈엔 슬픈 구슬로 바뀌어
Even my consoling friend's smile turns into a sorrowful bead in my eyes
웃으려 웃어봐도 안되는 난 먼 곳으로 -
I try and laugh and laugh, I cannot do, and I am away far -

내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you
내가 웃는게 웃는게 아니야
Me laughing is not laughing
또 내가 걷는게 걷는게 아니야
And me walking is not walking
너의 기억 그 속에서 난 눈물 흘려 너를 기다릴뿐
Inside your memories, I only cry while waiting for you

Translation Notes: 
- Rap is so, so hard to translate.
- The entire first 2.5 lines are a dependent clause modifying the subject of the sentence, which goes for four lines!
- The lines break by meaning, which destroys the rhyme. But there was no other choice if the translation was going to make sense. Hooray for accidental rhyming in translation.
- 망부석 is a figure in Korean folk tales, about a woman who was waiting for her husband, a sailor in the sea, until she turned into stone.
- Any ideas for translating 나도 모르게 succinctly?

In 15 words or less:  "Family" men who completed the Koreanization of rap.

Maybe they should be ranked higher because...  Rap is only going to get bigger in Korea, and they are leading the way.

Maybe they should be ranked lower because...  Actually, this feels just right.

Why is this group important?
The transplantation of rap in Korea has been an interesting progress for contemporary observers, because rap's importation into Korea is happening in real time, right now. After all, the first K-pop song that may legitimately be considered as a "rap" song only appeared in 1992, and the progress of rap in Korea since has been well-documented through albums, television shows, music videos, etc.

Leessang is important because its history neatly represents Korea's localization of rap, and its music represents Korean rap's final form -- for now. The two rappers of Leessang were formerly a part of another rap group Honey Family, a seven-member rap group that styled itself to be like Wu-Tang Clan, a large group that would assemble ad hoc while its members also pursued solo careers. Honey Family also distinguished itself by relying on very little English and staying within Korean language in its rap.

Truthfully, Gary and Gil did not do much in Honey Family -- which made music critics scratch their heads when they launched Leessang. But to everyone's surprise, Leessang took off with its distinctive style. No one will mistake Leessang for the most accomplished technicians, as Leessang's best songs are chill and rhythmical but not exactly replete with ingenious rhymes. But Leessang was nonetheless successful, and their success is almost entirely based on their ability as lyricists, the ability to tell a compelling story with interesting imageries.

Korean-style narratives are generally characterized by conveying overwhelming emotion. In poor formulations of such narratives, the story-telling becomes corny, over-the-top and melodramatic. (Think all Korean dramas.) But in the best formulations of such narratives, the story-telling hits the spot unlike any other. (Think Old Boy.) The song above is a nice representation of Leessang's strength. Simply talking about being heartbroken means little to anyone other than the heartbroken person. But when "laughing is not laughing" and "walking is not walking," one can feel the depth of the pain through those words.

Korean-style narratives, in rhymes constructed in Korean language -- this is what Leessang accomplished, and they deserve acknowledgment because of that.

Interesting Trivia:  The name of the group is a play on word of the name Yi Sang, a Korean novelist/poet of the 1930s who is famous for near-psychotic novels and extremely esoteric poems that often involved nothing but numbers and graphs.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I love LeeSsang.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "나도 모르게"...

    I don't know I think "somehow" isn't a bad choice. "Without meaning to" maybe? All the other choices (e.g. "inadvertently") don't really lend themselves to the format do they.

    Thanks much for the post - have enjoyed reading the series.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For 나도 모르게 I would say "without realizing." In this context it would also sound okay to say "I find myself slapping your cheek," but then that's not as direct a translation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. how about "without thinking?"

    ReplyDelete
  5. 리쌍! They truly made some great music so far (favorites being Rush, Ballerino, and Champion (what with the sad back story to the song)), and I always use them (and Tiger JK/Tasha) to demonstrate what Korean hip-hop sound like to my non-Korean friends.

    I know you weren't going to put too much hiphop artists in the list, but Leessang were among my hopefuls (along with Epik High & Tiger JK).

    As for the translation... how about restructuring the whole sentence? Something like "Before I realize, I slap your cheek and"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just wondering where you heard that the group's name was derived from 이상. In the song "개리와 기리" on their 3rd album, they sing "개리와 기리, 리가 2개, 그래서 리쌍." So, I suppose they mean to say that their name means a pair (쌍) of 리s. Actually, before they created 리쌍, they shortly existed in a group named 리쌈트리오 which also included 디기리 (another 리). My personal theory is that they just looked for a way to change that name slightly after parting with 디기리 and landed upon 리쌍. Of course, artists love to continually create multiple meanings for their names, so perhaps all of the above is correct along with what you posted.

    Btw, great blog you have here! I am thoroughly impressed and will continue to stop by time to time. If you take interest in Korean hiphop, please take a look at www.rokhiphop.com where I occasionally post as a staff member.

    ReplyDelete

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