Many of you probably never heard of the name Deux and that's a shame as they're certainly one of the most important groups in the history of K-pop. Deux didn't redefine K-pop; they helped write the original definition. They were fashion trendsetters, musical trailblazers, and would be involved with one of K-pop's most baffling mysteries which only helped to grow their legend.
Deux consisted of two members: Lee Hyun Do and Kim Sung Jae. Their origins can be traced back to Hyun Jin Young as they were back dancers for him during his debut. While Lee Hyun Do produced most of their music due to being influenced during his time living in Southern California, Kim Sung Jae concentrated more of the group's choreography and fashion. Lee Hyun Do provided that hip hop and new jack swing flavor while Kim Sung Jae brought crazy choreography and baggy skater clothing (Stussy).
Deux made their debut in 1993 with their self-titled first album. The title single "Turn Around and Look at Me" would become a major hit with fans, but would also go on to become maybe their most recognized song as well. The performance incorporated a new style filled with drum machines, baggy pants, breakdancing, beat boxing, and a swagger that was new to the Korean music industry. You want to talk about a workout, check out their performances below.
The duo released their second album 'Deuxism' towards the tail end of 1993. The title single "We Are" along with "Weak Man," "Reliving That Moment," and "Go Go Go" were a continuation to the style of music that was created with their debut and helped to further define the Deux' style and sound.
Deux would continue to experiment their sound with an EP 'Rhythm Light Beat Black' in 1994 before releasing their third album 'Force Deux' in 1995. With the third album they went back to their roots with singles "Break off the Yoke," "Scar," and "Confusion of Consciousness."
Their third album would be the last time the group would perform together as Deux would go their separate ways to pursue their solo careers. It was a sad and abrupt end to a group that really did have a strong influence on the music produced in K-pop, but more than that, it was the way Kim Sung Jae's solo career ended that has become the Korean version of a Hollywood murder mystery.
Kim Sung Jae's solo career ended as soon as it began. Following his comeback performance for the song "As I Told You" on the November 19, 1995 episode of an SBS music program, Kim returned to his hotel room where he was staying with his girlfriend along with the members of his entourage. The next day Kim was found dead in his hotel room and the cause of death was ruled a heart attack but further examination found that his arm was riddled with twenty eight needle marks and a drug overdose was added to the list of causes of death. Toxicology reports also found traces of animal anesthesia, which prompted speculation of murder. Kim's girlfriend then became the prime suspect after it was revealed that Kim had wanted to end the relationship earlier that week. After questioning her, she did admit to purchasing the anesthesia but claimed to have thrown it away immediately. Because of the lack of evidence against her, she was released and the case has never been resolved.
The circumstances and mystery shrouding Kim Sung Jae's death still cast a shadow over the group and still sparks interest from fans as they are left without a clear reason for his passing. Obviously it doesn't look like anyone will fully know what happened that night but it was a tragic end to such a promising career.
In 1997 Lee Hyun Do released the final Deux album 'Deux Forever' which included their most famous songs but included Kim Sung Jae's single and also the final recording of Kim Sung Jae with Lee Hyun Do's voice mixed in for the single "Love, Fear". A fitting title considering the way Kim's life ended.
Influencing YG's early sound
Lee Hyun Do also embarked on a solo career releasing three studio albums but his mark was even stronger behind the scenes as he became one of the most respected producers in K-pop. Under the name D.O., Lee produced hits for some of the biggest names in K-pop but his signature D.O. flavor left its biggest mark on the early YG Entertainment sound.
Deux might not be as well known as Seo Taiji & Boys but they had just a large of an impact, helping create the K-pop that we know and love today.