BUSAN, South Korea — The acoustic hip hop duo Robscenity do things a little different. Guitarist and singer Rob Chrisman and Rob Evong on the cajón (basically a wooden box) can fill a room with more than just their sound – they fill it with dancing crowds.
As they work their way through a set list that often seems to be thrown together on stage (and includes plenty of Rob-based jokes), they ferry listeners through the spectrum of musical styles, from soulful ballads to the crassest of punk to bouncing hip hop. And it’s all done with wry smiles and an energy that is hard to match.
That unrestrained energy feeds the growing number of singing, dancing fans that follow them from show to show, but you can see it in other ways. Chrisman mashes his guitar as though there were no amplifier, blowing through extra strings two or three times per show, while Evong plays the cajón with such ferocity that he has to wrap his fingers in medical tape before they go on stage. Fortunately they overcome these Robstacles to rock venues all over town.
What sets Robscenity apart from other Busan acts isn't their aggressive playing style, though. Although they play a few crowd-pleasing covers, the audience saves its most enthusiastic responses for their original songs. Chrisman is a talented songwriter, and uses his guitar to create catchy – and quality – backing beats.
Their vocals are a mix of speedy rhymes, clever lyrics and a back-and-forth style that's a lot like banter. Robscenity is a collaboration in the truest sense, one that puts a dent in the mold that dictates guitarists also be frontmen. Their ability to transition from a heavy hip hop beat to a soft, melodic chorus and back again – in the same song – displays their impressive range.
Lyrically, they are equally dynamic; while some might be left aghast at some of the duo's more salacious selections, their heartfelt explorations of life can be downright melancholy. There's nothing Robtuse about these two!
If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, with a good sound, intelligent lyrics and a few more Rob-puns, you can check them out around Busan just about every weekend. I guarantee you'll be Robsessed!
Photos by Jen Sotham