Bang Yong-guk (born March 31, 1990) is a South Korean rapper, songwriter and record producer who served as the leader of boy group B.A.P up until his departure from TS Entertainment in August 2018.
He made his musical debut in 2008 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 Ji-eun’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”, 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 Seoul, South Korea, on March 31, 1990. He is the youngest out of two sons and one daughter in his family. He has an identical twin brother named Yongnam, who has also performed as an underground artist, and an older sister named Natasha.
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. He got offered a scholarship for college, which he did not attend.
Yong-guk first began meeting with other members of Soul Connection when he was in his second year of middle school after posting his rap lyrics on an online forum and being recognized for his skill. Through meeting with seniors that were actually active in the music industry, watching them compose and produce, and learning from them, he was able to refine his own techniques and become better at making his style of music
In 2010, Yong-guk was contacted by TS Entertainment to be part of a hip-hop idol group after the duo Untouchable recommended him. Though he was worried that the type of music he could make would be limited, TS Entertainment assured him of being able to live out his dreams. Thus, he joined.
On March 3, 2011, Song Jieun’s single “Going Crazy” was released, featuring Bang Yong-guk. The agency thanked fans for their interest nevertheless.
On August 11, TS Entertainment released Yongguk’s single “I Remember”, featuring Yang Yoseob of B2ST. 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, RM 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.
In 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”.
On July 4, 2017, Bang Yong-guk released a solo track titled “Yamazaki”. The track featured lyrics in English, Japanese, and Korean. On April 25, 2018, Bang Yong-guk released the official music video of his solo track titled “Portrait.” Which he co-directed alongside Joe Brown. On May 25, 2018, Bang Yong-guk released the official music video of his solo track titled “Drunkenness.” Which features falsetto vocals provided by fellow band-member Yoo Youngjae. He co-directed the music video alongside Joe Brown.
Following the expiration of Yongguk’s contract on August 19 with TS Entertainment, he decided to leave the company; B.A.P would continue as 5 members.
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, 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.