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Sik-K fires up the New York crowd in his “POP A LOT” tour at Webster Hall

Photos taken by Caitlin Chien

Elation was an understatement to describe the Webster Hall show last Sunday as Sik-K heated up the venue along with HAON and JMIN in the New York stop of his POP A LOT tour. 

For those who don’t know yet, Sik-K first garnered attention in the Korean Hip Hop scene on Show Me the Money 4 in 2015 and later on joined H1GHER MUSIC, one of the most iconic Hip-Hop and R&B labels headed by Jay Park and Cha Cha Malone. After his contract expired with the label in 2022, he continued collaborating with his YELLOWS MOB crewmate DJ SMMT and former labelmates HAON and JMIN on this tour.

The show started right when it hit 8PM, and fans cheered intensely as DJ SMMT took on the stage and hyped up the crowd with an intro to Sik-K’s unreleased track “Shawty Wanna Wait”. Then came the headliner Sik-K. Dressed in a pale pink two-piece set and an oversized dust coat, the rapper announced his aura right away with “Melanin Handsome” and the bpm-boosting track “UNO GOTTA RUN”. With no gap between songs, the percussive synth beat dropped as HAON swiftly joined Sik-K for two more tracks “No Rush” and “4eva” from H1GHER MUSIC’s collaborative album RED TAPE. With the contrasted tones between the duo, HAON’s high-pitched rap and Sik-K’s huskier voice rode the beat and radiated great chemistry on the collab stage. 

After a full energy blast, Sik-K handed over the stage to HAON as he filled it up with his opening set. It’s fascinating to gather how the 22-year-old rapper has already amassed such a high-level stage presence and rap writing since he entered the industry in 2018. After being placed 1st on High School Rapper 2, HAON continued to draw popularity and recognition both domestically and internationally with his singles and participation in his label’s releases. His unique tone, paired with crystal clear diction and versatile changes in flow and rhythm showcased throughout his performances of songs like “Bar Code”, “Finish Line – Remix” and “BwB” were fresh to hear amidst the current Hip Hop scene that is almost oversaturated with up and coming talent and the blurred sense of authenticity in the genre as vocal processing and songwriting are increasingly automated. HAON’s sheer confidence when he performed and his natural interaction with fans for sure pushed the crowd’s hype to its peak as he wrapped up the set with the groovy, piano motif-layered “NOAH”.

Next up, JMIN made his appearance with “Don’t Worry” from his EP Homecoming, followed by the fast-paced, night drive vibes “I Swear”. Switching up the mood with the largely indie and hyperpop sounds throughout his discography, the audience put up their hands and waved along, chanting “oh yeah” back and forth as JMIN pointed his mic to them. His low vocal range, coupled with the high, reverb-heavy synth base quickly turned the room into a full-on EDM party. Finishing the set off with “Wave”, “Dedication” and a couple of unreleased songs, it’s now Sik-K’s showtime again.

Contrasted with the fast-spitting performances in the first couple of songs of the show, Sik-K returned to the stage and started off with the slower “Rendezvous” that tells the story of a hopeless romantic waiting for the girl to accept his love. Needless to say, Sik-K’s fanbase was among one of the most dedicated that I have witnessed so far. Singing from the top of their lungs along to the lyrics “We are the perfect two”, the crowd grew even louder during the performance of melodic rap-based “NEW LOVE” and the Latin pop-influenced “MI CASA ES TU CASA”. Nearing the end of the song, the rapper had a sip of his water and slowly dribbled the rest of the bottle onto himself, and the room took a turn and immersed into a moody and sensual atmosphere in the sea of screams when the intro of “12:45” played. The next thing you saw is the rapper, now shirtless, teasingly picking up bras and panties thrown onto the stage by fans. Funny enough, a fan in the front row handed him a bible that he smilingly held while singing “xanax” and “Habibi” before dropping it off backstage. Consistent with the production of his sound recordings, one of Sik-K’s most iconic musical colors was his intricate use of autotune during the performance. I am no huge fan of heavy autotune because it often takes away from the singer’s tonal characteristics, but Sik-K, skillfully layering ad-libs and harmonies over the processed vocals, has made great use of the effect to enrich his live delivery and fun when streaming the songs.

Concluding his solo set with the two most-loved tracks “TELL YA!” and “DARLING”, Sik-K brought out HAON and JMIN again for the finale, who led the crowd to its peak energy with “GIDDY UP” and “iffy”. The rappers made sure to run to both sides of the stage to interact with as many fans as possible. They also tried to take as many polaroid cameras and phones onstage for selfies and face cam videos to leave unique memories for fans. The trio ended the show on a high note with three consecutive fiery tracks “Achoo”, “The Purge” and “party (SHUTDOWN)”. And to fans’ delightful surprise, all three teased their new music or album releases and promised to come back to New York City again.

As the night closed out, the artists hopped down the stage and generously took time to take pictures with their fans and sign their albums and phone cases. One of the audiences who has been a fan of HAON since his debut finally got to see him in person and was overjoyed to get her album signed by the rapper. “I can’t believe this happened and I am so happy!” It is always these seemingly small moments showing dedication to fans and paying efforts to make a personal relationship with them that would take an artist far years later into their career. Fandom is the biggest asset of an artist, and the performing crew that night evidenced that with the best concert crowd.

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