On Saturday, December 5, Illionaire Records artist Beenzino performed at The Factory in San Francisco as part of his North American Tour. This concert review was made possible thanks to Platinum K Shows and CHL Entertainment. Proceed on to read about my Beenzino concert experience!
Who is Beenzino?
Born in South Korea on September 12, 1987, Beenzino (real name: Lim Sung-bin) moved to New Zealand and spent his childhood in Christchurch (which explains his fluency in English) where he discovered his passion for hiphop music through North American emcees such as Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and P. Diddy. The artist moved back to Seoul for middle school and later went on to graduate from the College of Fine Arts (Sculpture) at Seoul National University.
In 2010, the rapper collaborated with Beatbox DG in a hiphop group called Hot Clip. In contrast to the jazzy, soul and swing rhythm in [Daily Apartment], The [Hot Clip] mixtape is a compilation of energetic rap and vocals laid over boom bap and notable beats such as Jay Z’s ‘I’m Ill.’
During the same year, Beenzino and his friend Shimmy Twice formed a jazz hiphop duo called Jazzyfact, which remains as one of my favorite projects by Beenzino. Their mixtape [Life’s Life] is comprised of several hit tracks such as ‘Friday Move (TGIF),’ ‘Close To You,’ ‘Take A Little Time,’ and ‘각자의 새벽 (Each Person’s Dawn).’
On 2011, Beenzino officially shakes his hand with CEOs Dok2 and The Quiett and signed with Illionaire Records. Just over a year after joining the rising independent label, Beenzino dropped his first solo EP titled [2 4 : 2 6] where he paints his life experiences that occurred between the age of 24 and 26. With tracks like ‘Aqua Man,’ ‘Boogie On & On,’ and ‘If I Die Tomorrow,’ the album became a huge success, and was arguably one of his defining moments in Beenzino’s hiphop career. Since then, he has been featured in a spectrum of hiphop and R&B tracks with artists like Zion. T, Dynamic Duo, Verbal Jint, B-Free, Epik High, Okasian, Primary, and Junggigo.
His mini-album [Up All Night EP], which dropped in July 2014, was a collaborative project with the designer brand WOOYOUNGMI’s Paris Collection (see our translated ‘Up All Night’ Interview with Naver Music). Notable songs from the mini-album include the title track ‘How Do I look?‘ as well as ‘Mitch as F*CK‘ and ‘Up All Night.’ In addition to this mini album, Illionaire Records dropped their first compilation album [11:11] with successful tracks including the mega-hit ‘YGGR (연결고리) (ft. MC Meta)’ which won HIPHOPPLAYA Awards 2014 ‘Single of the Year.‘
Beenzino at The Factory, San Francisco
Having seen Beenzino perform with Illionaire Records a handful of times in both South Korea and North America, I was excited to attend Beenzino’s solo concert in San Francisco. The artist had about 2 hours of scheduled stage time, which meant Beenzino would be playing more than just his popular tracks he would normally play at Illionaire concerts. I was especially happy when learning that Korean producer and Jazzyfact co-member Shimmy Twice would be joining him on stage for the evening.
The concert was held at The Factory, a nightclub located in downtown San Francisco. The layout of the club venue was as one would expect: a simple stage with a DJ booth and a large dance floor for the audience. Although I was initially concerned about crowd congestion due to the layout of the concert, the staff was excellent in reserving the front area for VIP audience and press pass – there was plenty of breathing space as well as room to take photos and videos.
The crowd applauded as Shimmy Twice entered the stage and walked up to the DJ booth. The lights dimmed and the first track played: ‘Jackson Pollock D*Ck‘ from his latest mini-album [Up All Night]. The applause soon became a thunderous cheer as Beenzino walked down the spiral staircase towards the stage and began performing his first verse. Unfortunately, his nerves got the best of him and forgot his lyrics. He apologized to the crowd, explaining that he was especially nervous due to the intimidating staircase he walked down from (see our exclusive video). Shimmy Twice restarts the beat and Beenzino was able to pick himself back up:
For two hours straight, Beenzino performed essentially all his tracks from [2 4 : 2 6] (2011) as well as from [Up All Night EP] (2014). With Shimmy Twice by his side, the duo performed a number of Jazzyfact songs including ‘각자의 새벽,’ Smoking Dreams,’ and ‘아까워.’ In addition, he performed his recent tracks ‘So What (어쩌라고),’ ‘Break,’ ‘We Are Going To,’ and even a few unreleased ones from his upcoming full-length album, which is expected to drop later this month.
With a spectrum of tracks he is featured in, Beenzino performed a number of fan favourites such as ‘Primary – 멀어 (Far Away),’ ‘Epik High – Born Hater,’ ‘PEEJAY – I Get Lifted,’ and ‘Urban Zakapa – Get.’
Two quick hours passed by and the artist said his goodbyes before leaving the stage with Shimmy Twice. The audience soon chanted “encore!” and “Beenzino,” requesting him to return to stage. In less than a minute, Beenzino and Shimmy Twice returned to stage for the encore set. The artist brought out the Illionaire medley and performed tracks like ‘연결고리 (YGGR),’ ‘Profile,’ ‘내가,’ ‘가 (Go),’ and ‘ILLIONAIRE Gang.’ Beenzino concluded the show with the Jazzyfact track ‘Always Awake.’
As mentioned previously, this was my first time at a Beenzino solo concert, and I was certainly not disappointed. He seemed very comfortable interacting with the crowd. What I was most impressed was the fact that the artist gave his 100% from start to finish – one of our writers commented that “[Beenzino] looked seven pounds lighter by the end of the show!”
Following the Beenzino solo concert, we checked out the afterparty which was held at SF Origin Nightclub. When we arrived at the venue, the line was long as expected, but we were able to skip the wait and enter the club without any hassle (shoutout to Paul!). Being that this was a Beenzino afterparty, the majority of the crowd was Korean. We were pleasantly surprised to see Beenzino and his crew had made it to the afterparty. As he entered the DJ booth, the crowd swarmed towards the front and took photos and videos with their phones in the air. After his brief introduction, Beenzino performed ‘연결고리 (YGGR)‘ and enjoyed the rest of the evening at his table with his entourage. All in all it was a fun evening for everyone present.