DPR LIVE, most popularly known for his sensual, cool raps, broke into the music scene back in 2015 with his debut single “Till I Die.” Since then, he has released three EPs and a collection of singles. Returning fresh off the pre-released track “Yellow Cab,” DPR Live dropped his latest EP, IITE COOL. The EP consists of six summer anthems that exude a refreshing, chill ambience.
DPR LIVE, whose real name is Hong Dabin, represents the group named Dream Perfect Regime (DPR). Made up of four artists all with stage names consisting of “DPR,” the group prides themselves on being a “multi-genre music and video group” with DPR Live taking on the role as one of their main artists. In an interview with ESQUIRE Korea, he touched on how he created his stage name. “There was this lyric by a certain rapper that says, ‘everybody dies, but few people live’ and it hit me hard.” Elaborating on the inspiration he stated, “Looking back, I want to feel that I really loved my life. LIVE originally meant ‘to live’ and not ‘live,’ but it was too cheesy.” He mentioned that his friends came up with the name because of the rapper’s personality. “Your personality and the music you are doing right now is very straightforward.” Comparing himself to a live broadcast, he explains that when witnessing something raw and real, there will always be mistakes in addition to the good because perfection remains impossible. Coming to that realization led to the birth of DPR Live.
The EP IITE COOL follows his first full-length album Is Anybody Out There? released in 2020. He viewed IITE Cool as an opportunity to take a break from heavy, depressing themes he used in his last album and focus on switching the vibes towards a lighter, more ebullient aura. In an interview with Billboard Korea, he commented on his creative process in comparison to his previous work. “When I make my music I try my hardest to give it my 150%, so then when you continue you get better and break your own boundaries.” He continued on to explain that he wanted to create an album that would be easy to understand. “For the first time, I did my bare minimum for this EP. Yes, this is my bare minimum and I couldn’t do less because less effort was unacceptable. I was really surprised because the reactions were good.”
The EP begins with the smooth, sensual R&B track “Venus.” With cool, distorted sounds and evocative lyrics, DPR Live creates a fun and careless track that gives off strong sexy coffee shop vibes.
The title track “Hula Hoops” features Beenzino and MAMAMOO’s Hwasa. The three collaborated in the writing process to bring a variety of elements and perspectives. This song emphasizes DPR Live’s desire to present his fans with a breezy, catchy song they can simply vibe to. The featured artists seamlessly compliment the track with their unique vocals that create a fresh and confident sound.
A colorful music video accompanies “Hula Hoops” with quirky outfits and eccentric personalities. The use of color lenses throughout the video compliments the laid-back feel of the track, proving it to be the ultimate summer song. Throughout the music video, subtle references to hula hoops were seen such as each artist wearing hooped earrings to match their aesthetics. Blips of choreography, although not from the artists, were sprinkled about the music video to magnify the bright and joyful essence radiating from the track.
DPR Live’s favorite track of the album, “Summer Tights,” offers a vibe switch. The song provides a lighter, indie sound mixed with groovy guitar to create a dreamy track about falling into infatuation with a stranger.
Next, “Boom” comes in hot with featuring artist DPR Ian. A combination of Live’s smooth raps and Ian’s sweet vocals create complete harmony. The groovy vibe and lively atmosphere embodies the fun the two friends had together when recording. A little over halfway through the song, the melody switches to introduce birds and light electronic sounds, giving the feeling of an entirely different song in a way that still manages to flow perfectly with the first half.
The pre-released track “Yellow Cab” rolls in next. The funky track embodies the DPR Live’s relationship with music and his journey, both good and bad, throughout the music industry. Playful melodies cushion his aggravation with the lack of acknowledgement he receives in Korea with the lyrics, “I’ve been proving since 2017 / I’ve been stacking my authenticity / Can’t understand Korea sometimes / Why is it that foreign fans are quicker to realize that.” Despite his frustration, he continues to hold his head high and keep a positive outlook on his craft. The track also comes with a vibrant music video that illustrates his eccentric personality and careless theme.
“Awesome!” serves as the perfect track to round out the album. The upbeat, high energy hit acts as a declaration to the end of summer. Background electric guitar combined with smooth verses and affirmations such as “we’re awesome” express the theme to simply care less and enjoy life.
The album offers a look into DPR Live’s playful side to create a realm that allows listeners to step away from their stressful daily lives and transport to an island of ease. Each track demonstrates the message that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously and taking time to relax should be made a necessity. It will be interesting to see which creative direction DPR Live takes next.
Dive in and cool off with DPR Live’s IITE Cool, which can be found on all streaming platforms!