Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and head back to 10 years ago. The date is Jan. 26, 2012. 2011 had come to an end. The Hallyu Wave had just begun to gain traction and everyone wanted to ride it. Groups were debuting left and right. 2012 was a harsh year for rookie groups. The established 2nd generation groups were still going strong and breaking into the scene was difficult unless you came from the Big 3. However, one rookie group kicked off the year and stood out fast.
B.A.P (Best Absolute Perfect) was a 6 member boy group under TS Entertainment. The group’s Leader was Bang Yong-guk, he was also the main rapper The Main Dancer of the group was Jong-up but he also contributed as a vocalist. The vocal line for the group was made up of Dae-hyun and Young-jae. Him-chan was one of the rappers and the visual for the group. Last but not least we have Zelo the maknae who raps.
B.A.P debuted with a 4 track EP titled Warrior on Jan. 26, 2012. The group gained traction for its unique style and talent. With standouts vocals Dae-hyun and charismatic rapping from Zelo, the group saw moderate success and were candidates to be one of 2012’s super rookies. It’s hard to imagine but back in the day B.A.P and EXO were considered to be rival groups. The fan wars they sparked are a tale for another day.
B.A.P went into 2013 receiving a surprising amount of wins and nominations from various award shows. They won “Rookie of the Year” at the Melon Music Awards, nominated for “Artist of the Year” at MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards), and won “Best New Artist” at the Seoul Music Awards. With a fantastic start like this, their careers were looking bright. 2013 was a big year for B.A.P after having a killer debut year in South Korea.
The next logical step would be to tackle the land of the rising sun. B.A.P signed under King Records and debuted on Sept. 3rd, 2013 in Japan. Their popularity in their home country was at an all-time high and growing. The sky was the limit for B.A.P. They released 2 mini albums during the year One Shot and Badman. Both mini albums garnered great success. Their debut in Japan was so well received that they won “Best Male Debut” at the Japan Gold Disc Awards. Everything appeared to be going phenomenal for B.A.P. Nothing seemed to stop them; they were riding the Hallyu Wave and doing it with style.
The Turning Point
The Year 2014 was predicted to be big for them with the release of their first full-length album First Sensibility. This comeback would mark a high in their career. B.A.P achieved their first win on Show Champion with the title track “1004(Angel)”. They would accumulate a total of 3 wins with the track. B.A.P was looking to be a leader in the third generation of K-pop.
With their success, the next logical step would be a world tour and that they did. The B.A.P Live on Earth 2014 Continent Tour was a 17 stop tour. They traveled to a total of 10 countries and performed a total of 23 shows. Starting the year on a high with their first win then securing a world tour under their belt, nothing could stop them.
Unfortunately for B.A.P, not everything that glittered was gold. On Nov. 27, 2014, all six members of the group filed a lawsuit against TS Entertainment. The lawsuit demanded the termination of the member’s contracts. The allegations made were terrible working conditions, slave contracts and unfair distribution of profits. TS Entertainment made a statement refuting the allegations and claiming none of the allegations were true. B.A.P’s legal team allegedly considered adding defamation of character to the suit as a response.
The lawsuit would prove to be a detriment to their blossoming career. Putting a halt to all future promotions and activities as a group. From that moment, their status as a group was in limbo. The lawsuit would last over 6 months and on Aug. 1, 2015, B.A.P and TS Entertainment would reach a settlement and the group would continue to promote under the company. Shortly after this the group finally returned with their 4th mini album Matrix. The album performed well but it did not fare as well as their previous releases. The lawsuit made its mark staining the group’s reputation forever.
In an industry where everything constantly changes and moves at a breakneck pace; B.A.P was left behind, slowly losing its momentum. The lawsuit and settlement proved to be too much for their career. The year 2016 brought another world tour and marked a new point in their career. Leader Bang Yong-guk went on a hiatus due to an anxiety disorder. The group continued their activities despite all setbacks. They returned to Japan and released a full Japanese album and a second full-length album in South Korea.
After a 4 month hiatus, Bang Yong-guk returned. At this point, B.A.P was slowly releasing material and their career seemed to be staggering downwards. The popularity they once held was long gone. However, they still kept strong and released more material. TS Entertainment seemed to leave B.A.P to fend for themselves and largely ignored them after the lawsuit, possibly in an attempt to avoid more controversy. The year 2018 marked the departure of 2 members. Bang Yong-guk and Zelo both left the agency once their contracts expired. A year later the remaining members left as well. They did however hint at being interested in a reunion one day.
The tragic tale of B.A.P will never be forgotten. A tale of company mistreatment and greed. A group that was at the forefront of the 3rd generation of K-pop and the Hallyu Wave spiraled into a lawsuit that would alter the course of their career forever. A series of unfortunate events eventually led to them falling into the abyss of the K-pop scene. B.A.P’s tragedy however did leave an impact on the K-pop Industry.
Their story shed light on entertainment companies and the treatment of idols. Fans began to protest for better treatment and companies slowly began to change. That’s not to say idols aren’t mistreated nowadays but conditions surely have improved. This brings us to the end of a brief look into the life and legacy of B.A.P. What are your thoughts on B.A.P and their story. In what ways have companies improved the treatment of idols? How have they remained the same? Let us know in the comment section below.