- 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
Hong DaBin, aka DPR LIVE, is a South-Korean rapper member of the collective Dream Perfect Regime. His career started in 2015 with the track TILL I DIE and has already all of a success story. The artist and more generally Dream Perfect Regime have even been recognized by veterant artists such as Dumbfoundead, Jessi and others. So yeah, in the space of 3 years DPR LIVE has established himself as one of the prominent artists of the Korean urban scene.
Hong DaBin was born on January 1st, 1993, seemingly in Pocheon, South Korea. When he was 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 islands 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 they still teach English at school. However, because his parents only speak Korean, he learned his mother tongue as well. 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 love literature. However, he loved sciences such as biology but also subjects like history.
More generally, he was reflecting on life and himself a lot, had a strong self-awareness, and was naturally attracted by psychology or philosophy, even thinking of studying it in university. He also loved 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 was pretty much cadenced by the orders of his superiors. Two years made of a daily routine in which he had to do everything he was asked for, in which he couldn’t choose when to eat, when to sleep, and so on.
Nevertheless, without this experience, Hong DaBin might not be known by the name of DPR LIVE today.
He indeed admitted that the military service has been an opportunity for him to learn how to be patient, to learn how to really focus on something but also to reflect on what he truly wanted. Hong DaBin always had a thing for music, and he even kind of knew that he had the potential to do it as a professional since one time he had the opportunity to hear a recording of his voice. However, his future seemed to head more toward teaching. First, because it was one of his mom’s wishes but also because he was more of a music amateur, he hadn’t really planned to throw himself in music on a professional level.
In this way, if Hong DaBin truly started to write lyrics; this life full of duty but also all the free-time he had during his military service certainly played a key role. Gradually, he made lyrics from his thoughts and what was at first only a vague appeal quickly became a real passion, a conviction.
His military service over, it was with a new fervor that Hong DaBin decided to dedicate himself exclusively 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 illustration of the concept of fate. Seven people who grew up in different places in the world and who by mere chance met in Seoul, striving for a similar goal.
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 a few years before the crew creation. It seems that they have been friends since at least 2013, or even 2011 according to some Breakdance videos you can find on YouTube. For a while, Christian Yu released some practice videos on Youtube and Hong DaBin is in some of them. Because yes, it seems that the rapper also has some talent for dance as well!
A few years later, DPR REM (real name Scott Kim) joined the duo after meeting Christian Yu. He quickly became the creative director/executive producer of the crew.
From that moment, the other members have gradually joined the crew, one of the last members to join being DPR CREAM. 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 there’s 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. Like for instance, for two years DPR REM and DPR IAN have worked for other artists. They worked on visual projects to earn money and finally be able to launch their own projects, Dream Perfect Regime’ projects.
“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
Galvanized by that shared passion DPR LIVE unveiled his first track TILL I DIE firstly on SoundCloud on July 27th, 2015, and the M/V on 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 really became aware of the extent of his passion for music. As he said in an interview, before TILL I DIE, he wasn’t really serious with music, or at least he was not professional enough. With this track, he came to realize 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 is nowhere else than 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 Owen Ovadoz’ EP P.O.E.M released in January 15th, 2016, that people can hear DPR LIVE again with also ELO on the track 긍정 (Positive).
Nevertheless, it’s with the EUNG FREESTYLE that the rapper’s career truly took another level. The EUNG FREESTYLE, is none other than a project initiated by DPR. Indeed, the crew wanted to give more visibility to the Korean Rap scene, to show the world that the Korean rappers were no joke. People can say whatever they want but it’s a fact that in 2015 the KHip-Hop wasn’t as known worldwide as it is today, and DPR aren’t for nothing in that evolution. The bet was far from easy and one can wonder what had been the recipe for this nowadays classic of the Korean Urban Scene?
For those who don’t already know, the EUNG FREESTYLE is kind of an adaptation of the mmm Freestyle by the crew Hott Headzz. The producer duo Groovy Room did some arrangement on the original instrumental and Sik-K, PUNCHNELLO, Owen Ovadoz, Flowsik, and DPR LIVE took care of the rap parts. As for the visual, it’s once again a work from DPR.
Driven by this success, DPR LIVE collaborated once more with PUNCHNELLO on the track GOD BLESS and its retro and zesty vibe released on June 1st, 2016. The instrumental is this time from Paloalto.
The same month the track Dream Perfect is unveiled on SoundCloud, more exactly on June 22nd. This track is a pleasant mix of a dreamy melody with pretty deep basses. This beat is a work of Team One Sound also known for having worked with for instance groups like Super Junior, B.A.P, and so on.
A few days later, on June 28th, people could hear DPR LIVE again on the M/V THIRST with this 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 lyrics, it’s the expression of his will to succeed, 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 has also been the occasion for the crew to prepare an even more crazy project.
Indeed, the EP Coming To You Live, officially released on March 15th, 2017, required around one year of preparation. They had even more pressure that the EP was not only supposed to mark the official debut of DPR LIVE but was also quite hard to produce since there were a lot of collaborations, which means a lot of different artistic visions.
The representation of the seasonal 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 many artists who joined DPR LIVE for that album. Those collaborations would have been possible thanks to the network REM and IAN have developed little by little 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) have 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 on March 1st, 2017. About that collaboration, it’s known that LIVE has 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 sent him a demo of Know Me as well as the general concept behind the song. In a matter of a few weeks, Dean sent him back a proposition for his part and it’s how the track came true.
On March 7th followed the M/V Please in collaboration with the rappers G2, Kim Hyo-Eun and Dumbfoundead.
It’s worth noting that Dumbfoundead is one of LIVE’s favorite artists and that the crew are overall fans of the rapper from Ktown. 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 have seen every battle of the rapper and listened to all his albums 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, on March 14th so, two more M/V are unveiled.
Right Here Right Now with Loco and Jay Park but also Laputa featuring Crush, a track with a really wavy vibe. It’s worth noting that Laputa would be a reference to the imaginary island from the animation movie Castle in the Sky by Hayao Miyazaki, himself inspired by the Gulliver’s travels, a novel by Jonathan Swift 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, a track with a jazzy beat whose MV has been unveiled a month after the project release, which is to say on April 1st, 2017.
In March 28th, people could hear LIVE again on Somdef ‘s M/V Ring Ring Ring also featuring Verbal Jint, Paloalto, and Car, the garden.
On May 25th, LIVE also made an apparition on Loco‘s album Bleached for the track Movie Shoot, meanwhile the next month, precisely on June 5th, he joined this time Sik-K for his album H.A.L.F and the eponymous track Have A Little Fun.
A lot of people might not know about it but DPR LIVE is also present in the track Your Way by SOULBIN IN THE AIR with OHIORABBIT on October 13th on SoundCloud.
Her, an affirmation
Yet the rapper and the collective didn’t rest on their laurels as in December 7th, LIVE unveiled a second EP, Her, this one a more personal register.
Indeed, with that EP made of 5 tracks, Hong DaBin wanted to deliver a more personal and intimate project. A project tackling topics such as love and relationships.
He wanted to go for a solo project first because the crew and he agreed on the fact that from a purely creative and experimental point of view it would be an enriching experience for LIVE to do so. But also because like REM explained it in an interview for the magazine Rolling Stone India, Hong DaBin wanted to give the audience the purest expression of himself, he wanted to show the audience the raw him.
“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 what love is for the artist’s generation, What love is for people from DPR LIVE’s generation.
“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
Once again, the M/V Jasmine is unveiled in October 8th, two months before the EP release. From the crew’s work on the visual to the instrumental made by the producer Code Kunst, the best word to describe the atmosphere of the track is probably tenderness. This track is exuding tenderness and gentleness.
The M/V for Martini Blue is unveiled with the album, so on December 7th. The addictive beat has been made by DPR CREAM this time and as always the visual is as astonishing.
Finally, people had to wait until December 12th for the Text Me M/V, which is as colorful as the song.
This relentless work is rewarded by an N°8 rank at the Billboard’s World Album Chart. But more than a price those successes also allowed the team to get their own production studio. It’s especially meaningful as, like LIVE sometimes explained 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 shops or also at karaoke rooms (Ed: For those who would not be familiar with Korean culture, Karaoke in South Korea are private rooms that you can book for a group, it’s not a collective space like it can be in some European countries for instance; but it’s also a place where you can meet casually, that’s a pretty common thing to do).
So yeah, 2017 has really been a year of achievement for the crew.
2018, a year cadenced by a world tour
It’s through a collaboration that DPR LIVE opened 2018 on the track ‘HOLIDAY by SUZY released on 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, this track really stands out by its vibe and has a pretty heterogeneous structure.
And finally, on June 12th the M/V for Playlist is released. This track really reminds of the summer warmth. As they said in an interview, Playlist stands out from their previous projects and was quite risk-taking. The track structure can be divided into three different atmospheres and is yet keeping consistency as a whole. Besides, in the M/V, CREAM and CLINE also made an appearance in the MV.
Little production secret, by the way, the wall scene was in fact filmed on the floor, which would have seemingly been kind of a painful experience for LIVE, so yeah, let’s just appreciate how devoted this artist can be!
On March 16th he also took part in the well-known SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, on the “Korea Spotlight” scene alongside artists such as Crush or Lee Hi.
However, 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 with more than 20 dates covering North America, Europe and Pacific Asia (Ed: 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 to the fullest, both in failure and success, ups and downs, but also to remain faithful to himself. In interviews, LIVE explained that he always tries to make music which truly reflects him, music in keeping with who he is and what he feels.
That’s something is recurring when one talks about LIVE.
First in his influences. Overall, 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 flavor as well and he yearns for spreading it more on a worldwide level.
He also has a pretty defined 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 this that one can really understand who the other artist 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 will understand them. From then on, music comes out naturally.
Nevertheless, this need for sincerity can also be felt in his relationship with success.
Whether it is Hong DaBin or the collective, their work is above all fueled by passion. They of course want to thrive, but it’s not their first goal. What matters the most for them is 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 alters 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 matters 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, behind the scene, LIVE dedicates all his free time to music and doesn’t leave his studio as long as he has not achieved the schedule he planned. And, if it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with such a rhythm, he puts all the negative thoughts aside because he just wants to give his very best.
In the future, LIVE whishes for DPR to keep their thirst for challenge, this will to keep on crossing borders. That, together, they are still gonna be fueled by this same creative effervescence, that they’ll keep this work method based on discussions which allows them to constantly go over the public expectations.
LIVE wishes to make music that can overtake the language barriers. A music people could appreciate even without understanding the meaning of the lyrics. Music people would feel and live. And, above all, LIVE and more generally DPR, through their approach, their hard work and their success are aiming to contribute to a new impetus of creativity in South Korea, to a new generation which wouldn’t be stopped by limits such as financing any more; who would just give free rein to their imagination.i
Korea Joongang Daily
Rolling Stone India
Marie Claire Korea – Translated by dprdabin/tumblr
Periscope Live 062017 – Everything AOMG Channel