Kwon Ji Yong (Hangul: 권지용, born August 18, 1988), better known by his stage name G-Dragon (Hangul: 지 드래곤), is a South Korean rapper, singer-songwriter and record producer. After 6 years as a trainee under the record label YG Entertainment, G-Dragon officially debuted as a member of the South Korean group Big Bang. G-Dragon has been involved with writing, composing, and producing many of Big Bang’s hit tracks, including “Lies”, “Last Farewell”, “Haru Haru”and “Fantastic Baby.”
His debut solo album, Heartbreaker (2009), yielded the number-one single of the same name and would go on to become one of the most successful albums of the year, garnering sales of over 200,000 copies and winning the Mnet Asian Music Awards for Album of the Year. Heartbreaker also sparked major controversies for the artist, including accusations of plagiarism. After almost a year of hiatus, G-Dragon and bandmate, T.O.P collaborated to record and release the album GD & TOP (2010). The album saw the release of three singles: “High High”, “Oh Yeah”, and “Knock Out”, all of which have charted within the top three positions of the Gaon chart, with “High High” becoming a chart-topper. 2012 saw the release of his first EP One of a Kind, which yielded hit singles “One of a Kind”, “Crayon”, and “That XX.” The album was critically acclaimed, earning Record of the Year at the 22nd Seoul Music Awards. His second full album in four years, Coup D’Etat (2013) matched the success of his previous work, and he won Artist of the Year at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards. He also earned the World’s Best Entertainer and World’s Best Album awards at the 2014 World Music Awards
G-Dragon became the second member of Big Bang to make a solo debut in Japan after his bandmate Daesung’s solo concert tour in February. He embarked on his second worldwide tour as a solo artist, which included a four-dome tour in Japan. Noted for maintaining a tight control over his image and career, G-Dragon has been praised by celebrities for his hard work, creative artistry, and contribution to the fashion industry.
1 Life and career
1.1 1988–2009: Early life and debut with Big Bang
1.2 2009—2011: Solo career development, Heartbreaker, and GD & TOP
1.3 2012—present: One of a Kind, world tour, and Coup D’Etat
2 Image and artistry
2.1 Public image
2.2 Musical style, lyrics and composition
3 Personal life
4.1 Korean studio albums
4.2 Japanese studio albums
7 External links
Life and career
1988–2009: Early life and debut with Big Bang
Main article: Big Bang (South Korean band)
Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Kwon Jiyong began his career at age five as part of the group Little Lula. After releasing a Christmas album, the group’s contract was terminated by their record company, which Kwon described as “shock[ing].” Although he vowed to his mother that he “wouldn’t do it [becoming a singer] again,” he was scouted by SM Entertainment while on a ski trip with his family. He was a trainee under the record label for five years (from 8–13 years old), specializing in dance before he left as he was unclear about what he wanted to do.
In third grade, Jiyong was introduced to the American rap group Wu-Tang Clan by a friend. Inspired by their music, he developed an interest in rapping and began taking classes. Under People Crew’s tutelage, he participated in the release of the Korean hip-hop Flex album in 2001, becoming the youngest Korean rapper at just 13 years old. Although he wrote his own lyrics for the song, he admitted that his English was weak and the story behind the lyrics actually meant “I’m young, but I’m the best.” Kwon Jiyong caught the interest of Sean of the hip-hop duo Jinusean from YG Entertainment, who later recommended him to CEO Yang Hyun Suk. After signing a contract with the record label. Kwon Jiyong spent the first year cleaning the studio for the other artists in the record label and fetching them water bottles during dance practice. He and another trainee Dong Young-bae, originally planned to debut as the hip-hop duo GDYB, with him choosing the stage name of G-Dragon (“Ji” is pronounced like “G”, and Yong is Korean for Dragon). After six years of training, Kwon made several featured appearances on other artists’ albums and even released several singles with Dong Young-bae under the name “GDYB.” G-Dragon made his official debut as the leader of the group Big Bang in 2006, after six years of training under YG Entertainment, with Dong Youngbae (who chose the stage-name Taeyang) and three other members (T.O.P, Daesung, Seungri).
The formation of the group was documented on television, and though there were initially six members, one (Beast’s Hyunseung) was dropped before the official debut. The group’s debut was fairly successful, with their first single netting in sales of over 40,000 copies. It spawned several airplay singles, including “La La La”, “We Belong Together” and “Forever with You” which featured label-mate Park Bom. The album also included G-Dragon’s first solo song, a cover of the American alternative rock group Maroon 5’s single “This Love.” Following the release of the group’s EP Always in 2007, G-Dragon began to involve himself more with the production of their albums. Always featured several songs composed by him, including the lead-single “Lies” (Korean: 거짓말; Revised Romanization: Geojitmal), which became the group’s first number-one hit. Their following EPs followed its predecessor’s footsteps: Hot Issue yielded “Last Farewell” (Korean: 마지막 인사; Revised Romanization: Majimak Insa) while Stand Up spawned “Day by Day” (Korean: 하루하루; Revised Romanization: Haru Haru); both singles, which were composed by him were chart-toppers.
2009—2011: Solo career development, Heartbreaker, and GD & TOP
His first official solo single, “Heartbreaker” drew controversy over similarities to the song “Right Round” by Flo Rida
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Aside from Big Bang, G-Dragon also made several solo appearances. After helping produce Taeyang’s debut album, he recorded his own version of the album’s lead single “Only Look At Me” (Korean: 나만바라봐; Revised Romanization: Naman Barabwa), titled as the “Only Look At Me Part 2” to the song. The single was released digitally. Along with Taeyang and T.O.P., G-Dragon was featured on singer Lexy’s song “Super Fly” for her album “‘Rush’.” In May 2009, he collaborated with the Japanese boy band W-inds. for their single, “Rain Is Fallin’/Hybrid Dream.”
After Taeyang released his solo effort, G-Dragon released his debut solo album Heartbreaker, featuring collaborations with several artists, including Teddy of 1TYM, Taeyang, Kush, CL of 2NE1, and Sandara Park of 2NE1. Initially scheduled to be released in April, the album was pushed back to August to coincide with his 21st (Korean years: 22nd) birthday. The album marked a change in G-Dragon’s appearances as he dyed his hair blonde to match its concept. Propelled by its lead-single of the same name, an electronic pop song, the album sold over 200,000 copies and went on to win Album of the Year from the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards. The second single, “Breathe”, manage to chart within the Top Twenty while his other songs — “The Leaders”, “A Boy”, “Hello”, and “She’s Gone” — went on to top various charts upon their release. Shortly after Heartbreaker’s release, G-Dragon was accused of plagiarism by Sony Music when his tracks “Heartbreaker” and “Butterfly” were alleged to be similar to Flo Rida’s “Right Round” and Oasis’s “She’s Electric”, respectively. However, EMI, the record label that distributed “Right Round” said that they saw no similarities between these two songs. On March 6, 2010, YG Entertainment announced that they personally contacted Flo Rida’s representatives requesting that he feature in G-Dragon’s live album, Shine a Light, to which Flo Rida accepted. In support of his album, G-Dragon staged his first solo concert at the Olympic Park in December 2009. Entitled Shine a Light, the name of the concert was derived from the lyrics to his song “A Boy.” The concert subsequently sparked controversy following complaints of obscenity and suggestive content. The Korean Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs later asked the government prosecutors to investigate if G-Dragon or YG Entertainment violated laws on obscene performances in his concert. He was found innocent and was cleared of all charges on March 15, 2010.
G-Dragon with T.O.P at a promotional shoot for GD & TOP
G-Dragon performing on Alive World Tour in September 2012
In November 2010, YG Entertainment announced the collaboration album from G-Dragon and bandmate T.O.P. Preceding the release of the album, the duo held a world-wide premiere showcase for their album at Times Square in Yeongdeungpo of Seoul, which was also broadcast live on YouTube. To promote their album, the duo released three singles: “High High,” “Oh Yeah”, and “Knock Out.” All three singles preceded the release of the album. The singles attained commercial successes: “High High” was a chartopper while “Oh Yeah” and “Knock Out” both peaked at number two and number three respectively. The album was released on Christmas Eve, and debuted at number one on the Gaon Chart with pre-orders of 200,000 copies., eventually topping 130,000 copies sold.
With a collaboration with Park Myung Soo, and Mr. Potato they created a duo called GG for the Infinite Challenge Seohae Ahn Highway Song Festival 2011. They released their song “Fired Up(바람났어)” featuring Park Bom from 2NE1 on June 2, 2011, which became an ‘All Kill’ on various Korean music charts.
On October 5, 2011, it was reported that G-Dragon was tested positive for marijuana. His urine test came back negative but a weak positive for marijuana was detected from testing the content of his hair. The tests were done in early June and the results came back in August. As it was a first offense with a minuscule amount, it resulted in an indictment and he was not charged. He allegedly accepted an offered cigarette from a fan in Japan during a party back in May. He was the only one at the party who was later tipped off to Korean authorities. He confessed that he smoked the cigarette that was offered to him, but after realizing it was not a normal cigarette, he threw it away.
The scandal caused a halt to his promotions, and YG Entertainment issued a statement that he was being given time to reflect on his mistake. Because he was not charged, he did not lose any endorsers and later made his first public appearance after the scandal at the 2011 MTV EMAs with his group Big Bang.
2012—present: One of a Kind, world tour, and Coup D’Etat
It was announced in March 2012 that G-Dragon’s solo comeback would be scheduled in the later half of the year to coincide with his birthday. He continued to collaborate with other artists while recording materials for his album, including an appearance in Pixie Lott’s upcoming Japanese album, along with fellow member T.O.P.
G-Dragon released the music video for his song “One Of A Kind” from the album of the same name on August 24, 2012, on YouTube. The song earned him two “Best Hiphop / Rap Song of the Year” awards from Korean Music Awards and Rhythmer Awards. He followed this up with “That XX,” which topped music charts and was described as an “perfect all-kill” status. His EP One of a Kind was released in digital and physical format several days apart in September. The album was received positively; all of the tracks occupied the top positions on all major music charts. The album also placed first on the Billboard World Album Chart and entered the Billboard 200 Chart at 161 for the week. At of the end of 2012, the album netted in over 200,000 copies, making it the highest selling solo album in Korea since the release of his Heartbreaker in 2009. For his effort, he won the ‘Best Male Solo Artist’ award at the 14th Mnet Asian Music Awards and late Record of the Year award for One Of A Kind at the 22nd Seoul Music Awards.
In January 2013, in support of his album, G-Dragon embarked on his G-Dragon 2013 1st World Tour, becoming the first Korean solo artist to embark a 4-dome tour in Japan and the second Korean solo artist to have a world tour (the first being Bi Rain). After touring extensively, G-Dragon went back into the studio to record for his second full-length studio album. YG Entertainment later announced that Grammy Award-winning musician Missy Elliott will be featured on the album. Elliott previously announced in January 2013 via Twitter that she had contributed two tracks (“Chugalug”, “Niliria”) both of which were produced by Teddy P.
His second album, Coup D’état, was released in 2 parts online, with the full album being released September 13. The album featured collaborations with a star-studded list of artists and producers, including Missy Elliott, Diplo, Baauer, Boys Noize, Sky Ferreira, Siriusmo, Zion.T, Lydia Paek, and label-mate Jennie Kim. G-Dragon and Missy Elliott performed the song “Niliria” at the KCON 2013 in LA. Tracks from Coup D’état topped major Korean music sites. A total of seven tracks were placed from one to seven on the Mnet charts upon release, while six tracks from Coup D’état were also placed within the top 10 of the Gaon Singles Charts with “Who You?” being number one. The album also topped the iTunes charts in several countries. The music video for “Coup D’Etat” was released on YouTube on September 1 while the music video for “Crooked” was released shortly after, on September 4. The success of Coup D’état lead to G-Dragon winning a total of four awards at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards: Best Male Solo Artist, Best Music Video for “Coup D’etat”, Best Dance Performance for “Crooked”, and the highest award, Artist of The Year. He later took home the World’s Best Entertainer and World’s Best Album at the World Music Awards.
G-dragon participated in the Infinite Challenge music contest, held on 17 October in Imjingak, by contributing the song “Going to Try” (Haebolago), a duet with comedian Jeong Hyeong-don. He also worked with Skrillex on the song “Dirty Vibe” for the album Recess.
Image and artistry
“The right kind of music is not made once the artist feels that music is work. When one is working on music, performing or just having fun, … it directly influences the music … The more I work, the more I feel like I’m learning and maturing at the same time.” —G-Dragon
G-Dragon in stage outfit for Big Bang’s Alive tour in 2012
Described as the “most fashionable” one in his group, G-Dragon’s role in influencing fashion trends in South Korea have garnered him awards such as the “Style Icon of 2008″ and the award for “Most Influential Men of 2008” sponsored by Arena magazine. Fashion icon Kang Dong Won has also acknowledged G-Dragon’s influences, calling him a “fashionista.” In 2013, G-Dragon was listed in the Style Icon Top 10, later garnering the 2013 Style Icon of the Year Award. He is the first solo singer to win the award undivided. TV personality Kim Jun Hee, when speaking at the Fashion N‘s “Follow Me Season 2”, spoke of her admiration for the artist, stating how “[n]ot only does G-Dragon have a great taste in fashion, but he can write and compose music like a genius. He just has this gift for music.”
While promoting Heartbreaker, his change in hairstyle from dyeing it to blonde gained popularity among his fans and became one of the top hairstyles of the year. Additionally, his constant sporting of triangular scarves became a trend among teenagers and were later nicknamed the “Big Bang scarves.” Despite his influences, G-Dragon has admitted to being self-conscious of his role as a musician, noting how he had “changed many things including the tone of my voice because I was conscious about my job when I was in front of others.” Aware that his public image is important when promoting his materials, G-Dragon notes that “what the public perceives of [my physical appearance] is my doing so it’s my fault if I give off the wrong intention.” Despite his success as a solo artist and leader of Big Bang, G-Dragon has admitted that he didn’t realize how famous he was until he went on Big Bang’s World Tour. He also strongly opposes the idea of singers as “products” of the entertainment industry. He was later highlighted as one of the “50 Reasons Why Seoul is the Best City” by CNN.
Musical style, lyrics and composition
“Haru Haru” (2008)
Haru Haru, one of the most famous songs of Big Bang was composed by G-Dragon
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Inspired by music by the Wu-Tang Clan, G-Dragon participated in the annual hip hop Flex album in 2001 at the age of 12, establishing his career as an artist. During the early days of Big Bang’s career, the band was marketed predominately as a hip-hop group, though they went on to experiment with electronic music and setting it as the new music trend in Korea. From previous exposure to a range of genres with Big Bang, G-Dragon incorporated a mix of dance, hip-hop, and R&B songs into Heartbreaker. During the production for the collaboration album GD & TOP, G-dragon opted for a more hip-hop sound, though he does acknowledge that R&B, acoustic, and electronic music heavily influenced it.
Since becoming a solo artist, G-Dragon has maintained tight control over his music, stating that “each feeling [in creating the music] is different”, using his emotions to direct the lyrical content and the composition of his songs. In attempts to distinguish himself from other artists and composer, G-Dragon admits to “giving twist and turn at every corner and evoking [a] different story” with each part of his music, acknowledging that although the chorus is the catchiest part of the song, he wants all the parts to his song to be remembered. Prior to his establishment as a solo artist, he was also involved with the production of Big Bang’s albums, writing and composing majority of their songs.
G-Dragon’s contributions to his own music have garnered him praises and criticism alike. Preferring to pen lyrics that “sound like an actual story”, the Korea Times have praised him as a “genius singer-songwriter”, though the rapper has expressed being uncomfortable with the label. His effort to create melodies won him praises as one of the best composers of 2008, with many pop culture critics and industry representatives choosing him as the “musician whose future they anticipate the most.” His rap lyrics have also placed him fourth during a vote for “Most God-like” rapper in Japan. The rapper also topped Forbes listing of “Most Hardworking Idol”, and made into its list “Korea 2030 Power Leaders.” Singer Lee Seung-Cheol also points to G-Dragon as one of the young artists he currently looks forward to. Producer and rapper Cho PD expressed his appreciation for Big Bang, stating how “[i]dol singers like Big Bang possess the ability of being musicians,” crediting how “in many ways Big Bang has evolved out of being an idol with the abilities they possess as musicians” and how “G-Dragon can be counted as the main representative for this.”
In 2012, G-Dragon built a hotel as a gift to his family; fans can also stay at the hotel.