– You were the runner up for “Show Me The Money 4”. Were the final results similar to your predictions at the start of the contest, such as your ranking and the winner?
Mino: I did not predict where I would place but honestly I thought I would naturally go to the finals. Since I am confident onstage, I thought that I would definitely go to the finals. I didn’t think it would be that difficult. But after experiencing the first preliminaries, my mind changed. I thought, “Ah! It’s going to be hard to move up.” So I worked much harder. I was in the Top 10 and on the finals stage in a blink of an eye.
– I heard that you got insomnia?
Mino: When an individual becomes suddenly busy or suddenly has lots to think about, they lose sleep. I experienced the most burden and pressure in my life and I think I thought/worried the most as long as I’ll live. Usually, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow but after the broadcast started, I couldn’t fall asleep even if I wanted to.
I thought that even if Song Mino did really well he wouldn’t be able to win. How would the public responded if a winner was announced from YG following Bobby in Season 3?
Mino: Honestly, I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about that. In the end, I didn’t win but I worried about the things I would hear if I did. So instead of being greedy to win from the start, even if I were to get eliminated, I wanted to show my coolest appearance onstage. I only thought about showing myself renewing my stage on my own.
– Even if you didn’t win, “Fear” became the most successful song from “Show Me The Money 4”. It was refreshing to see words that told the weakness of your heart among rap lyrics that expressed how strong and how the best they are.
Mino: It contains my honest feelings I felt while filming “Show Me The Money 4”. I was stuck in the wrong thought of having to write impacting and very strong lyrics from the time I prepared for the show. I only thought about “properly dismantling” the interest, anticipation, pressure, and eyes that tried to see me while wearing dark glasses around me. As I continued to write lyrics, that kind of obsession became more powerful and I became tied up within my own system. In that process I wrote lyrics that crossed a line and I deeply regret it. As I received an onslaught of criticism, I wanted to honestly write about the emotions I felt during that time. I was going to be on a stage where I could truly show myself since I was in the semi-finals. So I didn’t want to say things like, “I’m strong. I’m the best. You guys are all r*tards”. Especially because there weren’t many stages where I could share my genuine story, I sincerely told my story without tensing up.
– As you mentioned about “crossing a line”, there was controversy about your incorrect lyrics.
Mino: That line of lyrics was one of the lyrics I wrote during the time I was preparing for the broadcast before the program started. I think I wrote more than 100 lines of lyrics during the three weeks before the first preliminaries. Active rappers had so many bullets that they would’ve already prepared but I had been writing mainstream music until then so I was deeply restless. I thought that I had to write two to three times more than the contestants that I would compete with so I downloaded hundreds of instrumentals at the recording studio, and whatever genre it was, whatever theme it was, I kept writing. Since this kind of lifestyle became repeated, I think I hypnotised myself as I kept telling myself, “You need to be stronger. It needs to be more impacting. So you can beat the extraordinary contestants who are going to compete with you”. In that time when my judgment was weak, even when I was rapping that line, I wasn’t able to realise my error. It was problematic to not realise it on my own but I didn’t have the composure to think about it deeply. After the broadcast and after the public’s reaction, it hit me. As I was scolded and criticised by people, I was able to step out of the obsession I created.
– I’m sure you felt a variety of emotions in the process of getting criticised and apologising.
Mino: I always wanted to write really good lyrics. I am working hard even now and I even believed that one of my strengths was lyrics. After this happened, I became more cautious in writing lyrics. My position is a mainstream singer and I have many young fans and female fans and I came to feel very deeply in my bones that it is something I need to face with utmost prudence. I think I need to accept this as an opportunity to become more mature as a mainstream singer and rapper.
– For “Fear”, Taeyang’s vocal featuring was very impactful as well as your rap.
Mino: Before the lyrics were finished, I was deep in thought about who I should ask to feature in it. I even got the guide of the song by Junhoe of iKON and Koonta-hyung [of Rude Paper]. After listening to the guides, I came to the conclusion that a clean vocal color would fit best, and the only voice I could think of was Taeyang-hyung. I asked him just in case he would comply and after listening to the song he gladly accepted. Although he was busy with filming “Infinity Challenge at the time, I am very grateful that he made time to participate. I was unbelievably satisfied while listening to the finished product.
– In a way Taeyang’s featuring was a double edged sword. Along with the success of the song, it also grabbed at your ankles. There were responses such as “Isn’t Taeyang featuring cheating” and “You’re the one who said you’ll do it without the YG tag”.
Mino: That’s right. I think it was only natural for people to respond in such manner. I did rap, “without the YG tag on my back” but that doesn’t change the fact that I am under YG. I wish for people to accept that as my expression of vigour. I was promising to show Song Mino, not as a singer under the agency YG and not as a WINNER member. There were other singers who could’ve featured but as I was thinking about the creating the best song possible, the voice that kept ringing in my head was Taeyang-hyung. It is only natural that people thought I would be in a position of advantage with Taeyang of BIGBANG featuring but I thought that if the song itself is good, people would acknowledge it. It was hard for me to give up the whole picture I desired as a person creating the song. Also Blacknut was not a weak opponent so I did not have a choice but to choose my best cards. I was desperate to win the battle, to make the best song possible, and to fulfil my own satisfaction. So that was my decision.
– It was memorable to see your good natured laughter in response to Blacknut’s attacking rap, “Song Mino will win anyways”. How did you feel when you first heard that and how did you tolerate it?
Mino: When Blacknut-hyung said that for the first time during the second preliminaries, I thought, “Huh? That’s funny” as I heard it at the scene. Because I was fully prepared for people to target me and try to drag me down. I thought that I just had to do what I do but as the show went on, many people kept saying it repeatedly so towards the latter half of the show, I was slightly angry. Getting mentioned like a popular catchphrase and having it like a personal label, made everything I did with my efforts turn into nothing with that one phrase. Of course everyone is on good terms now. There is no one I am on bad terms with after being on “Show Me The Money 4”. Even if there were misunderstandings prior to the show, everything is settled well now.
– You shared that time with notable musicians of the hiphop scene. Is there anything you felt and learned?
Mino: As I met hyungs who I wasn’t able to meet in a long time and talked with musicians I didn’t know and competed with them, the spectrum within me widened. They were of big help, musically and humanely.
– You must have been under great stress during competitions such as “WIN” and “Show Me The Money 4” as you had to prove yourself and try to win. What made it possible to show good results despite it all?
Mino: Teddy-hyung once told me, “In the end, your days are the same”. Even if I become trapped in a difficult time and suffer from it and become distressed from it, my days are the same. Nothing changes. I think that’s really true. From that time on, I tried my best to empty my thoughts as much as possible. It’s difficult to express in words but nothing good comes in staying within a difficult situation.
– Another issue is the meeting between Song Mino and Zico. Both of you dreamt of debuting in the same group one time. What was it like to work with Zico as your friend, colleague, and producer?
Mino: I must admit, I was so happy. Even after we were separated into different groups, we contacted each other at least once a week. We know each other too well and we share musical influences with each other greatly. I always wanted to do things with him since we share such similar tastes in fashion, music, and dances(choreography), and through this opportunity I did everything I wanted to. Both of our wishes were granted. Naturally, there are more things I want to do with him but I am happy to do something we love to do onstage together.
– Will we be able to see you do something together again?
Mino: If my company allows it, I will definitely want to do anything. I’m sure my fans would also like that.
– Is there a rapper or musician other than Zico you want to work with?
Mino: Oh Hyuk of Hyukoh Band. I’ve been close friends with him since before. I had him come over during my “I’m Him” music video filming and he had to wait all day but only appeared for 0.3 seconds. But he’s so popular now… If I do something with him now, it would be too typical, right? (T/N: Typical as in bandwagoning)
– Will we be able to see Mino the rapper in the future?
Mino: I am always ready to grab hold of any opportunity passing by. I will show a cooler side, a side that crushes everything.
Source: x, goduandme5, tim
Translations by: @chrissy96_