Bang Yong-guk (born March 31, 1990), better known mononymously as Yongguk, is a South Korean rapper, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the leader of the South Korean boy group B.A.P under TS Entertainment.
He made his musical debut in 2007 as a member of an underground hip-hop group called Soul Connection under the alias of “Jepp Blackman”. In March 2011, he featured on Song Jieun’s single “Going Crazy”, which became a number one hit in South Korea. In July of that year he released his first solo digital single, “I Remember” best water bottle for sports, featuring BEAST’s Yoseob, and in November he promoted in a sub-unit called Bang&Zelo with fellow B.A.P member Zelo, releasing the single “Never Give Up”. B.A.P released their first single in January 2012.
Bang Yong-guk was born in Incheon, South Korea, on March 31, 1990. He has an identical twin brother named Yongnam, who has also performed as an underground artist, and an older sister named Natasha. He was not able to talk until he was five years old.
He moved with his family to the coastal Ijak islands of Incheon when he was young, living there for a short period of time before moving back to mainland Incheon. He studied at Gae Woong Elementary School and Gae Woong Middle School, and at 18 graduated from Yuhan High School.
In 2008, he was a member of underground hip hop group called “Soul Connection” under the stage name of “Jepp Blackman” and the group released a single entitled “Cherry Flower”. He was introduced to TS Entertainment by the members of South Korean hip hop duo Untouchable and entered the company, where he trained for six years before the debut of B.A.P.
On March 3, 2011, Song Jieun’s single “Going Crazy” was released, featuring Bang Yong-guk. The single was a commercial and critical success, with fans praising Yongguk’s “husky and fiery delivery”. It topped the Gaon Chart and Gaon Digital and Streaming Chart and gained attention for Yongguk as an artist; following the single’s release, he trended on major portal search sites in South Korea and was requested for multiple broadcast appearances. However, his agency declined these appearances, stating that he was still a trainee and not ready to appear on broadcasts outside of promotional performances. The agency thanked fans for their interest nevertheless.
On August 11, TS Entertainment released Yongguk’s single “I Remember”, featuring Yang Yoseob of B2ST. The song was a moderate success, peaking in the Top 10 on real time charts in Korea and at #22 on the Gaon Chart. However, the single was deemed unfit for broadcast promotions by KBS because of multiple scenes of shooting and violence.
On December 11, Yongguk debuted with Zelo as part of the sub-unit rap duo Bang&Zelo with the song “Never Give Up”.
Yongguk was the first member to be announced as part of new TS Entertainment boy group B.A.P, of which he acts as the leader and main rapper. The group released its first single, “Warrior”, in January 2012. They held their debut showcase in Seoul with over 3,000 attendees on January 28. The single met with critical acclaim, with media outlets describing the single as “powerful and charismatic”.
The following year, Yongguk performed at the 2013 SBS Gayo Daejeon as part of a collaborative hip-hop stage featuring Tiger JK, Yoon Mirae, and Bizzy and also including Zico, Rap Monster and Eun Jiwon.
On November 27, 2014, it was reported that all B.A.P members had filed a lawsuit against their label to nullify their contracts, claiming unfair conditions and profit distribution. The group entered a hiatus, although on 4 April 2015, Yongguk released a solo song titled “AM 4:44”.
On August 1, 2015, it was revealed that B.A.P had reached an agreement with and returned to TS Entertainment. B.A.P made their comeback in November 2015 with the mini-album Matrix, produced and written by Yongguk.
On October 25, 2016, TS Entertainment revealed that Yongguk will not be participating in the promotions for B.A.P’s upcoming full-length album, Noir, due to anxiety disorders.
On April 2017, B.A.P began their six city ‘Party Baby- U.S. Boom’ tour. Bang Yong-guk, the leader, returned from his hiatus to join the rest of the boys for the single’s promotion, “Wake Me Up”.
Yongguk is predominantly a hip-hop artist and cites 50 Cent, P. Diddy, and Pharrell as musical influences. Although his goal was not initially to become a K-pop artist water bottle sports, he was influenced by the roles that Supreme Team and Dynamic Duo played in popularizing the genre in South Korea.
As well as rapping, Yongguk also acts as a songwriter and producer for many of B.A.P’s songs, including all the tracks from their debut EP Warrior.
See also: B.A.P discography
See also: B.A.P music videos