Note: Arena Homme September 2016 Edition
– The song ‘Rae Sremmurd’ continued playing at the shoot. To try to describe them, they’re a sibling hiphop duo, top rookies who are currently taking over the American hiphop scene. Their specialty is spitting out explosive drunk like raps on top of a trap beat. If their songs are played at a club, it’s a night where no one can go home. Watching Song Minho swaying and dancing in beat with their song, we suddenly thought whether in our not so distant future we would also not want to go home because of the music. Saying Song Minho from an idol group as a member of WINNER leaves ambiguous boundaries, through the fourth season of “Show Me the Money” he revealed his presence as a skilled rapper to the entire world. If after watching Season 4 there were any doubts about his skills, we recommend that you watch the Song Minho singing ‘Machine Gun‘ together with Zion.T and Kush on Season 5. You’ll immediately recognize how much confidence he has on the stage and how cool he raps. While Song Minho was performing abroad without rest as a member of the group WINNER, good news was released. He would form a unit and work together with the rapper Bobby, a member of the brother group ‘iKON‘ from the same agency. With the meeting of two young guys who both have good style and rap well, the expectation can’t help but be more amplified. Late at night the Song Minho who wore various cool clothes to pose in, talked about his own future in a composed voice. He is young and smart, a young man with a burning passion.
– We’ve seen a lot of units formed from the same group. However, we didn’t think that we’d see an ‘iKON’ and WINNER’ unit. How did this come about?
Mino: Amongst iKON members, B.I and Bobby are in the rapper positions. In ‘WINNER’ the members that like hiphop a lot are Seunghoon hyung and myself. Since we were trainees, Bobby and I were similar in the music we liked, as well as our tastes. However, it wasn’t our intention to work together, but its because our CEO thought that a new synergy would be created in bringing us together. Since this opportunity has been given to us, we’re having a lot of fun in working together.
– Through the media, Bobby seems like a really spontaneous person while Song Minho seems like a really deliberate person. While your tastes may be similar, your personalities may be quite different. How are you two working together?
Mino: The ‘WINNER’ members have their own music that they like and have individually different tastes but within the name of ‘WINNER’ we harmoniously create music. In the same way, even though Bobby and have similar musical tastes, when go a bit deeper, the things we’re pursuing and the things we want to do can’t help but be different. But I don’t think we need to try to ‘match’ these things. It’s because we respect our inclinations and individual characters. Thus, in creating a song we’re first trying to sketch the larger theme, then within that we blend in our individual preferences accordingly. Since Bobby and I first and foremost have ‘respect’ towards each other, no matter what feedback is given, it can be well received.
– In the course of giving and receiving opinions while working together, were there times when feelings were hurt?
Mino: Is it really necessary to say something in an offensive manner? You can say things in a nice manner. Even if there’s a part that you don’t like, since you’re not directly saying ‘it sucks’, there weren’t cases of hurt feelings. Haha.
– Since we’ve never heard a song made by the two of you, we’re really curious about it. If you were to describe the songs?
Mino: Both Bobby and I often go abroad to perform and have other such work. Beyond that we really confined ourselves to the workrooms. Since it’s an uncommon opportunity that has come to us, we’re giving it our all. Thus we’ve created an exorbitant number of songs, though we don’t know how many songs will be picked out for release. We’re preparing a variety of songs, from songs that can be comfortably enjoyed by people who don’t know hiphop well or aren’t as interested in it, to songs that can capture the attention of the hiphop fanbase.
– As a matter of fact we were curious about what kind of listener you had in mind while creating the songs. Whether the target is the female fans that love Bobby and Song Minho or the manic fans who ask ‘Do you know hiphop’?
Mino: We ‘re truly creating such a variety of songs but I don’t really know which songs amongst them will be released. I’m actually curious about that aspect as well. Haha.
– Lately South Korea has fallen for hiphop. It’s an age where grandmothers and middle aged women are challenging themselves to rap. In times like this, as a rapper, a musician who creates hiphop music, what aspects do you have to pay attention to?
Mino: I wonder if there’s ever been a time when hiphop in South Korea has received this much public love. It seems that ears towards hiphop have been opened and outlooks have broadened. Honestly I think that the power of the program ‘Show Me The Money’ made a large impact on how the market for this music has expanded to this point. But nonetheless this program a TV show, it’s entertainment. Thus, you have no choice but to compete with each other and edit the show in a provocative manner. The hiphop that people like may have ultimately started from this show as a base, which is why I wonder whether theres a tendency to accept it as entertainment rather than music. People who first come into contact with hiphop through ‘Show Me The Money’ might think that that is all there is to hiphop. I was actually on that show but I think that they should pay some more attention to the diversity of hiphop as a genre.
– Of the songs you’ve released, what was the biggest turning point?
Mino: Is it too obvious if I say ‘Fear’? Haha. While was on the fourth season of ‘Show Me The Money’, I changed how I thought about things and gained a lot of things. The program needs to end with a winner, but while I was preparing this song I wanted to show myself as a musician, regardless of the winner. It was the first time I had those kinds of thoughts. If for the previous performances I placed my focus on the contest, for ‘Fear’ went beyond the notion of the competition and wanted to show my honest heart, Song Minho himself. To be honest, it required a lot of courage.
– During those times when you poured your passion into becoming a rapper, were there lyrics from another rapper that touched you?
Mino: Its not my life’s motto, but there’s a song called ‘Moment of Truth’ by ‘sean2slow’. From it, the lyrics ‘always your passion, soon your decision’ left a big impression. Probably anyone who likes hiphop would recognize this rhyme.
– The rhyme is cool but you can feel the sincerity in the lyrics. It seems that writing your story is a rapper’s essence. When you watch the movie ‘Straight Outta Compton’ the rappers lived in a time when they had no choice but to grab the microphone to express something, to tell a story. The 24-year-old Song Minho who is living in 2016, what do you want to say?
Mino: My mindset is the most reflected when I write lyrics. When I first started with hiphop and rap, it was naturally because liked it. So there were times when I wrote those passions for music into the lyrics. When I’m crazy busy and run over with work, I do think that I want to rest. Then I wonder what it is I’m racing so hard for, and write those kinds of related lyrics.
– Have you ever thought about addressing social issues from a lighter standpoint?
Mino: Since you need to know what’s going on in the world these days, I always look at it with interest. There are times when I want to try satire, but ultimately there’s something that worries me. I’m careful about it because it’s not truly my story, so if I write about events that have happened, the people that have really experienced those events may feel differently.
– It used to be that when you talked about Korean style hiphop, it was organized to start with rap, with a melody filled song featuring in the middle, and finishing with rap again. But now it seems that everyone’s sense is different, and that the trend has changed as well. What is the formula for hiphop success these days?
Mino: Whether its a theme or a hook, there certainly must be an element that grabs the ears. It might be slightly childish or it may be nonsensical repetition but I think this is beyond the hiphop genre and is a trend in popular music.
– If so, doesn’t it become too light without any kind of message?
Mino: That’s right. Its not easy to tune that lightness. But this is a trend that has taken root not just in South Korea but in the hiphop scene overseas as well. I’ve noticed a lot of rappers, who beyond skill, are creating to a degree stupid, silly rhymes.
– If that’s the case, then it seems that you don’t have to decide for yourself that “’I’m someone who does this kind of music’ or ‘My style is like this’.
Mino: Since I’m an idol and a singer, I am always in front of many more people. There are domestic and foreign fans of a variety of ages, and I need to create music for all of them. That’s why l’ve opened myself to all possibilities. If I stubbornly dug into only doing the music that I wanted to do, then i wouldn’t have entered an agency such as YG. I want to draw an even greater picture. I think all of these steps right now are a part of the process in my development to become an artist who makes popular music.
– Oh, so it seems that there’s a ‘big picture’ that Song Minho is drawing.
Mino: Since this is a time where I will reap what I sow, I’m only focusing on my work. Usually I’d enjoy my hobbies in my free time but lately I’m deliberately only working.
– Is that because you want recognition from more people?
Mino: There’s an aspect of that, of course. Honestly what has been shown through the media in my performances or my appearances is a really small part of me. I want to show even more, to receive more recognition. As YG is a big agency, there are a lot of artists and there is a sequence. That’s why when an opportunity like this is presented, I want to show as much of my potential as I can.
Translations by: suzino