During the 2019 annual League of Legends World Championships in Paris, France, the company behind League of Legends, Riot Games, debuted a hip-hop and K-pop fusion group called True Damage. The group features hip-hop artists DUCKWRTH and Thutmose, who both notably worked on the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack. Other members consist of Becky G, Keke Palmer and K-pop girl group (G)I-DLE leader Soyeon. Their debut single “GIANTS,” while having amazing performances from rappers Thutmose, DUCKWRTH and Soyeon, faltered when it came to the chorus and hook, lacking the catchy addicting element that made Riot’s own K-pop group K/DA’s “POP/STARS” so popular.
K/DA, which debuted during the 2018 World Championships for League of Legends, featured singers Jaira Burns and Madison Beer, as well as two members from (G)I-DLE, Soyeon and Miyeon. Their debut single, “POP/STARS” exploded in popularity, with the music video currently having 279 million views on YouTube and 103 million plays on Spotify. Soyeon, who represented the champion Akali within both K/DA and True Damage, stood out among the other three members in K/DA for her viral rap segment after the first chorus. Appearing as a neon sprayed Akali, Soyeon dropped hard hitting bars over thick synths, ending her rap with “I’m the realest in the game, uh.”
True Damage unfortunately does not live up to the expectations set by K/DA. While the rap segments were phenomenal, the vocal performances from Becky G and Keke Palmer made the song feel a bit disjointed. The song begins with Thutmose’s fast-paced and aggressive rap, spitting bars such as “I’m a Benz and you’re more like a Volvo.” As the song transitions into the chorus and hook, Becky G takes the stage, singing in both English and Spanish, before Keke Palmer joins Becky G in the chorus, singing “We’re living like Giants, yea Giants.”
The tone set by Thutmose in his beginning rap feels very disconnected to what Keke Palmer and Becky G went for. The fast, unrelenting and aggressive lines from Thutmose contrasted with the energy from Becky G’s slow and melodic singing. Keke Palmer tries to revitalize the song with a dose of energy in the chorus, but it ultimately doesn’t work out. The chorus sounds very flat, and despite using the same instrumentals from Thutmose’s rap, feels like a different song.
At the end of the chorus, Becky G ditches the singing for rapping, leading to the actual shot of energy the song needed. As her segment comes to an end, the star from K/DA, Soyeon, makes her highly anticipated entrance, replicating the fast lines spat out by her during last year’s “POP/STARS.” Soyeon’s rap, despite being fairly short, took center stage yet again but unfortunately she wasn’t able to perform another miracle like she did last year.
The hook and chorus come back around again before DUCKWRTH makes his entrance, rapping in a strange limbo between laid-back and intense, leading to a unique combination that sets itself apart from Thutmose’s hard hitting rap and Soyeon’s aggressive rap. He finished off this distinct verse with the line “I got this blade in my hand for your punishment.”
As the chorus returns for a third time, the song fades to a close on a disappointing note. Admittedly, it’s hard to top what Riot Games set for themselves with K/DA, but True Damage just feels too scattered with mainly the singing bringing the song down. Had the song fully committed to the hip-hop/rap element, it might’ve been better. As it stands now, it feels like a very strange amalgamation of genres that works sometimes, but more often than not, doesn’t.
You can listen to and watch the music video here.