Formerly home to artists like Wheesung, 1TYM, Gummy, Se7en, Minzy, Park Bom, 2NE1, Nam Tae-hyun, Lee Jong-suk, and PSY, its current roster of artists includes Big Bang, CL, Dara, Epik High, Akdong Musician, Lee Hi, Winner, iKon, Sechskies, Jinusean, Black Pink and One as well as actors and actresses including Kang Dong-won, Choi Ji-woo, Cha Seung-won, Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk and Yoo In-na.
In March 1996, Yang Hyun-suk, a former member of the first-generation K-pop group Seo Taiji and Boys, founded YG Entertainment along with his younger brother Yang Min-suk. The company's first artist was the hip-hop trio Keep Six. When they failed to attract popularity, Yang turned his focus to the duo Jinusean and in 1998 to the debut of 1TYM. Both were successful artists that Yang credits for bringing YG Entertainment, and the hip hop genre, into the Korean music mainstream.
In 1999, YG Entertainment's artists released a collaborative album under the name YG Family. The label followed with releases from artists such as Perry, Swi.T, Big Mama, Lexy, Gummy and Wheesung. It also established the "YG Underground" label, which housed 45RPM and Stony Skunk. In 2001, a second YG Family album was released. Among others, it featured the 13-year-old G-Dragon, who was then a trainee.
The agency found success in both Korea and Japan with its first "idol" singer Se7en in 2003, who became the company's first artist to attempt to cross over into the US music scene, though his US debut failed to gain momentum.
Following Se7en's success, YG Entertainment formed its first idol group Big Bang in 2006. Despite an initial lukewarm reception, the group's breakthrough the following year and their consistent popularity have made them one of the biggest and most bankable boy bands in the world. This was followed by YG's first successful girl group 2NE1 in 2009, who, prior to their split in 2016, were considered one of the most successful and popular girl groups in South Korea. Similarly to Seven, both groups conducted successful careers in Japan.