During a discussion with the press this past week, Yang detailed plans for YG's year ahead, including comebacks from BLACKPINK and PSY. Among these details about current acts, he revealed plans to debut a group with Superstar K's own Bang Ye Dam in July, making it his third male group debut in four years. Though the announcement came as great news to fans that followed Superstar K or wanted to see a younger group from YG, some were surprised by the decision to debut a new group so quickly.
YG's most recent boy groups, WINNER and iKON, debuted in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Their debuts came after the "Who Is Next" reality competition show, and each group made a splash with heavy participation in the production of their own music. The decision to debut the groups so close to each other surprised fans of "Who Is Next," who were under the impression that only one competing team would go on to promote. Despite this, both acts were hits, with debut albums that hit #1 and sold upwards of 100,000 units.
Now that Big Bang is down to four active members, it makes sense for YG to make opportunities for their other boy groups to shine. With an iKON comeback slated for April, a WINNER comeback promised shortly after, and a new group debut on the horizon, YG seems to be really counting on his boy groups this year. For some fans, though, this sudden burst of activities doesn't make up for long waits in between singles and albums.
WINNER's first album came out in Autumn 2014, and they were unable to release a follow up until early 2016. Comparatively, when Big Bang debuted in 2006, they released an album, several singles, and two mini albums within the same amount of time. This stark contrast shows that YG has slowed the pace of releases in general, and is only enhanced by the fact that WINNER's "EXIT: E" mini-album was touted as part of a series of releases. As of writing, "EXIT: E" is the only part of that series that has seen release. It's speculated that this pace contributed to former member Nam Tae Hyun's departure from the group.
On the other hand, iKON has even less content than their labelmates WINNER. Since its official debut in 2015, the group has only released one album and one single. Although member Bobby was able to release music as part of MOBB with WINNER's Mino, his contribution to that project didn't seem to raise the profile of his group at large. Though fans are slated to meet the boys again this April, this hardly matches the pace for releases set by sunbaes 2NE1 during their initial two years of promotion.
Between unfinished projects like the "EXIT" series, member departures, and various changes within the YG Entertainment structure, fans believe they have a right to be concerned about YG's future plans. Many argue that there is too much unfinished business left to start pouring attention towards a project as demanding as a new boy group debut.
With Big Bang effectively on hiatus, 2NE1 disbanded, BLACKPINK still gaining footing and a myriad of other YG artists like Epik High taking time to work on new material, it can become a bit more clear why Yang Hyun Suk is "putting all his eggs in one basket." Time will tell whether or not this strategy works. In the meantime, it's likely that fans of the label will continue to take to social media, calling for the discovery of a balance.