[140211 | INTERVIEW] ToppDogg’s Kingdoms, analyzing the 13-membered group ToppDogg.
ToppDogg is a group with a whopping 13 members. It’s the biggest number after Super Junior. Since each member only gets a small part [in songs], we wondered how these guys can confidently express their colours. Their solution was through ‘fantasy units’: The 13 members were divided into four units called Wizard, Knight, Dragon and Lion which you can find in RPG games or fantasy novels. Their distinctive colours are also conveyed through their music. In particular, the song ‘Arario’, which they are currently promoting for their special album after ‘Open the Door’, is filled with very Korean-like nuance (T/N: They’re saying how ‘Arario’ is a song that gives off a traditional Korean feeling). ‘Arario’ beautifully weaves in traditional Korean melody and the MV uses a balance of white garments and bright primary colours to symbolise Korean people, along with samulnori (T/N: Traditional Korean percussion quartet) in its performance. Although they only debuted in 2013 and are still considered rookies, they are in the process of creating their individual colours. The 13 members, who attempt to create distinctive music through fantasy units, are on the road that lets them stand up together even when they fall. ToppDogg’s aim is for the public to be familiar with them. To understand the 13 members more, we are going to conduct an analysis on each unit or ‘kingdom’: Wizard, Knight, Dragon and Lion.
# Wizard Kingdom (B-Joo, Hojoon, Hansol, Xero)
1. Why are you called the Wizards?
Xero: It’s the gathering of all members who specialise on performances.
Hansol: Because we can display different colours just like wizards.
Sangdo: When you play games, you can see different magic like fire, water, lightning and others. These members are capable of diverse genres [just like that].
2. The attributes of Wizards
Hojoon: When I was little, I used lightning spell in this game I played called ‘The Kingdom of The Winds’. (laughs) That’s why my popping is lightning-like? Because it hits you hard like the lightning.
B-Joo: I’m the cleric, in charge of healing. I want to heal both the members and the public.
Sangdo: What about poison? If you look at B-Joo’s dancing, you’ll get immersed in it just like an addiction.
Xero: I’m ice. When people watch me dance, they can freeze from captivation.
P-Goon: Xero also has a chic and cold image!
Hansol: I’m… Sailor Moon. (laughs) Before I went with the name Hansol, I was going to use the name ML for ‘Moon Light’. (laughs) It’s just perfect.
3. The reason you became singers
Hojoon: I’ve always loved singers. Since I was little, I sung a lot of anime theme songs. Also, while watching music shows I would try following the dance steps and people said I was good, so here I am.
B-Joo: I’ve always wanted to be a singer but when I was in high school I was full of worries when I received my report cards. At that moment, I heard that my friend had been accepted into a company and I blindly followed him and failed; so I worked harder and got to where I am now.
Xero: I started dancing in Grade 2, 3 of middle school but I would only go for public performances. In high school I went to a casting and after that my dreams grew and I became a wizard. What a change! (laughs)
Hansol: The hardest time was when during my adolescence, when I was walking and heard Gummy-sunbaenim’s song by chance; it healed my heart a lot. I wanted to become a person who heals others’ hearts one day. That’s why I decided to become a singer.
4. Role model
Hansol: P!nk, the rock singer. She doesn’t only do rock but she does other genres well. Even when she’s dancing or doing acrobatic moves, she sings live. Without differentiating between genres, my dream is to become a performer that does different dances.
Xero: American hip-hop artist, The Game! Although he has a strong, gangster image I feel that I can learn a lot from him.
B-Joo: Without a doubt, it’s Michael Jackson. His stage presence is very cool, you get goosebumps.
Hojoon: Chris Brown, who’s good in everything he does.
5. The member who you want to recruit into Wizard
Hansol: There are two members. Kidoh-hyung and Gohn-hyung. Because they can produce and make different-coloured songs, so they can be used to our heart’s content.
Xero: Kidoh. I usually like electronic music, and Kidoh makes good beats so he can give me good parts.
B-Joo: I want to receive rap lessons from Jenissi-hyung.
6. Killer move
Hansol: Our killer move is the meteor!
Xero: When all four Wizards are on the stage, we spread apart and lay in ashes like a meteor.
Seogoong: These kids really want to look cool. (laughs)
#Lion Kingdom (Jenissi, Yano, Gohn, Seogoong)
1. Why are you called the Lions?
Sangdo: Because they have a strong and dependable yet carefree image.
Yano: If you think of lions, they are very carefree. Also, they’re the king of animals so they have a brave and strong vibe.
Gohn: When you see a lion, they have this playboy-like image but it’s just an image. Inside their strong physique, you can feel their easygoingness.
Seogoong: Two main vocals, one rapper and one producer make a whole.
2. Lion’s unique charms
Gohn: Of course, their carefree charm.
Yano: We have a different colour than the others. I admire B.O.B’s music. Even just looking at him, I feel good.
Gohn: In my case, I have a singer-songwriter image and a preference for the neosoul, R&B genre. My role model is Bruno Mars. He has a funky, rock-ish feel.
Seogoong: I like R&B but I focus more on music. I practice music more.
Jenissi: Since we’re many people singing one song, I’m working hard to sing my part as if it was my own song. First, I’m listening and researching a lot about foreign and domestic hip hop. I’m not researching a lot in order to copy them but in order to avoid [copying them].
3. The reason you became singers
Gohn: I don’t remember clearly when I began thinking I wanted to become a singer. I wanted to put my thoughts into music. After singing other people’s songs, I wanted to sing my own songs so I started composing. While learning music alone in Hongdae and holding performances I became affiliated with the company.
Seogoong: I wanted people to know my face and voice. I wanted to appear on TV and sing.
Jenissi: I never decided I wanted to be a popular singer but after trying to do music with my friends, turns out it wasn’t easy. I think I began [to think I wanted to become a singer] with the thought of wanting the public to hear my best voice.
Yano: I never had the thought that I should become a singer. Since I was little, I liked music and started learning rap so my interest grew from there. I just let it flow naturally until now. Before I started rapping, I played the drums but I found the [concept of the] beat fun and liked the feeling when my body moved to the music. One day my friend was listening to rap music but he took off the earphones for us to listen to it together and I fell for it. It was a diss track… (laughs) There aren’t many diss tracks available for public (T/N: mainstream-wise) but hearing that style was new and fun so I started [learning to become a singer].
4. The weakest and strongest members
B-Joo: Because maknae Yano is younger than me, he’s the easiest to deal with. (laughs) The strongest member is oldest hyung Jenissi?
Jenissi: That’s nonsense. (laughs) Even yesterday, I was only sitting quietly but I was attacked.
5. The member who you want to recruit into Lion
Seogoong: Kidoh! (Kidoh: I’d rather not.) I was originally not in Lion. Because I wasn’t originally in Lion I don’t want to be in Lion.
Jenissi: We’ll send Seogoong away and swap him for another member! Ah… but our team needs a main vocalist.
Seogoong: I entered Lion just for that one reason…
Jenissi: We’ll swap him for Nakta! No particular reason.
Yano: I want to swap him for P-Goon. He seems strong. (laughs)
6. Weak points
Seogoong: There isn’t any in particular. All four of us can’t dance. We dance like octopuses. (laughs) Jenissi-hyung is the worst dancer. He’s like a toy soldier moving.
Yano: Let’s go with practicing our dancing slowly.
Seogoong: We learn dances quickly but we dance like octopuses.
7. Killer move
Yano: The roar! A lion’s roar! We’ll show our valiant side!
Seogoong: Spreading out our mane! We want to have a strong presence on the stage.
# Knight Kingdom (Nakta, Kidoh, A-Tom)
1. Why are you called the Knights?
Kidoh: Because it’s a group of friends who have an upright image.
A-Tom: Compared to Dragons, Wizards, Lions, the Knights are the most human-like. That’s why it’s where the most human-like members get together.
2. Knight’s unique charms
Nakta: I’m in charge of the wackiness and clumsiness. I’m a kind knight.
A-Tom: Because I’m the maknae, I’m a beginner knight. I’m a knight who resembles model Hong Jonghyun. (laughs)
Kidoh: I’m in charge of producing so my charm is my musical spectrum. And if I get the feel sometimes I can become crazy. I’m the awakening knight.
Sangdo: Like Starcraft. Berserker (T/N: A famous South Korean Starcraft player)! (laughs)
3. ToppDogg’s Knights’ rules
A-Tom: Every week we receive a lesson. A chivalry class. (laughs)
Seogoong: There are actually no rules. We just know it and do well. If not, that one person is finished and if you don’t want to be attacked you have to do well. [If not], you’ll get scolded by the other 12.
Nakta: If you want to be lame then we’re going to be ruthless.
Seogoong: Your mind will be completely dried up.
4. The Knight’s preferred music
Nakta: I like girl group music. I like f(x), Girl’s Day and other girl groups’ music.
A-Tom: Although I like a variety of genres, among them I like rap and I like the rapper Whiz Khalifa.
Kidoh: I like hip-hop.
5. The reason you became singers
Nakta: I’ve never had the thought of wanting to become a singer. I entered the company with the goal of learning. I continued doing it until I debuted. I trained for two years but at the beginning my parents were really against it; now, they tell me to ask them for help whenever possible.
A-Tom: When I was little I liked watching singers’ videos so I started becoming interested in it, and after befriending people who had the same interest I became something close to a singer.
Kidoh: Because I originally wanted to become a producer I wrote songs. When I was in my first year of high school, I watched a music program and included in the top 10 was Brave Brothers’ song. I thought it was cool so I went to his Cyworld homepage and left a comment on his guestbook, “I compose but please let me enter your company”. After that I got a phone call and they listened to my song and I learned a lot while going in and out of the company. I originally hated idols. But I realised that idols have it the hardest. Korean idols are very amazing. I began learning dance. My dance skills are better than the Lions.
Seogoong: I told the dance leader that Kidoh’s dance is the weirdest.
Kidoh: The dance leader agreed with Seogoong but told me that I have the best sense of rhythm.
Yano: If Kidoh had a weakness, it would be habit of his mouth forming an ‘o’ whenever he’s concentrating in his dancing. When he’s concentrated too. Luckily, on stage he learned to control that.
6. The member who you want to recruit into Knight
Kidoh: Xero! Because his looks are quite good. He’s suitable to be the Knight’s visual.
A-Tom: He’s also tall, I think he’d fit well [in the unit].
7. The weakest and strongest members
Jenissi: They’re all easy to deal with. (laughs) And it’s hard to be only on one side. Amongst that, Kidoh has mood swings so he’s a bit difficult.
Kidoh: Back in the day, I was very violent. (laughs)
Jenissi: There have been times when Kidoh couldn’t keep himself calm and lost his cool.
Seogoong: The moment Kidoh puts on his glasses and puts a towel around [his shoulder], everyone runs away.
Jenissi: If you can see those signs you need to lock the doors and avoid that spot (T/N: where Kidoh is).
#Dragon Kingdom (P-Goon, Sangdo)
1. Why are you called the Dragons?
Sangdo: When we were first divided into units, they were very concerned about where to put me. Later, they were conflicted whether they should put me in Knight or Dragon. In the end, they settled it with my skin colour. (laughs)
P-Goon: The black feel is strong. We’re exotic and have strong personalities.
Kidoh: They’re both scary like dragons. (laughs)
2. Dragon’s unique charms
A-Tom: Because 13 members is a lot, leader P-Goon has a lot of work to do but he leads and guides us well.
P-Goon: It’s not only hard on me, but it’s hard for everyone as well so we embrace each other. It’s natural to think that there isn’t any easy work.
Hansol: Out of ToppDogg’s 13 members, they have the strongest mental power.
Yano: For two years, they maintained the same image.
3. The reason you became singers
P-Goon: When I was in primary school, I thought that Shinhwa-sunbaenims’ ‘Wild Eyes’ dance was very cool so I decided to become a singer. To become a trainee, I went to an audition and passed but the style was rather different. I match better with R&B and because I prefer it I ended up in ToppDogg.
Sangdo: Actually, I was very confused. In high school, I joined a club because I liked singing and during a festival I stood on stage; at that moment, I felt it was very fun so I continued singing.
4. The member who you want to recruit into Dragon
Sangdo: Our image is strong so we want to bring someone different into our team. I suppose B-Joo could be the baby dragon!
P-Goon: As soon as he was born he’d be a ptreodactyl with horns, fiery-style Pokemon. (laughs)
Sangdo: Just by looking at his appearance, A-Tom also matches a dragon’s. He resembles a lizard. His face is like a dinosaur’s.
P-Goon: If he cuts his hair short like us, he’ll look like one.
5. Weak points
Sangdo: I’m the weak point. My weak point is that I only have an exotic feel.
P-Goon: My weakness is that I don’t have a sense of friendliness. Fans are scared of Sangdo and I. When they see us leave the studio just for a bit, they don’t say anything to us. If we had a charm, perhaps it’s the passion hidden behind our scary image. Now that they already got to know me, they say I’m not scary. Even when I look into the mirror, I’m scared too. My makeup might be too strong.
Sangdo: If I was in front of the company building, the fans there would avoid making eye contact [with me]. Because they’re scared. Later on, when we spoke, they told me they couldn’t talk to me at first because I seemed really scary. But that’s not the case.
6. Killer move
Members: Because they’re dragons, it has to be flame-throwing. (laughs) It feels like they can blow flames when they’re angry. (…) What the heck! Haha.
Source: Tenasia Translated by: Topp Dogg Intl TAKE OUT WITH FULL CREDITS
[FULL TRANS] BOBBY for GQ's 'Man of the Year' Interview
Interviewer: It’s past 1 AM, are you going to wake up early tomorrow?
BOBBY: At 4. Soon….
Interviewer: 4 in the morning?
BOBBY: Yes. Because it’s Men of the year. Haha. Later I have filming for a music video. We filmed half of it a while ago so tomorrow, wait no, in three hours, we are going to film the rest.
Interviewer: Can you stay up all night?
BOBBY: I’ll have to try. Originally, I had never stayed up all night. Ever since I became a trainee, it became part of my everyday life. Because growing up is inevitably a fight against time. I think if you are lacking but still go to sleep, it shows that you are content and complacent with yourself. You’re not selfish enough. Honestly, I’ve never felt content with myself.
Interviewer: Even during this year?
BOBBY: Even though I won 1st place on <Show Me The Money 3>, there are still a lot of challenges I need to overcome. Once I cross over one mountain, there’s another mountain waiting to be crossed right behind it.
Interviewer: Mountains? Do you have a specific target?
BOBBY: I’m more comfortable with setting a specific goal first. The first mountain I need to cross over is Block B’s Zico-hyung. Jokingly I tell him, “Hyung, one day I am going to beat you. Just wait.” And then Zico-hyung says, “I’m never going to let you catch up to me.” He’s kind of a rival but he’s a hyung that I respect and from whom I can learn a lot.
Interviewer: You even wrote it in the lyrics for the song YGGR#HIPHOP that you performed on <Show Me The Money 3>. “Everybody besides B.I, Mino, Zico, P.O, get out of the way.” Was overcoming those obstacles and reaching the top one of your goals, too?
BOBBY: I think reaching the top is ambiguous in it of itself. Above the top is the sky, above that is the universe, and even above that there’s going to be something else. I always want to be growing, higher than the sky and the universe. It’s funny to say, but I want to become legendary like Notorious BIG or Tupac. Later I want to hear people say, “When dad was young, Bobby was the best.”
Interviewer: If you’re aiming to surpass the universe, don’t you think you might run out of fuel?
BOBBY: Ha…You’re right. I hadn’t thought about that. However, the people who constantly encourage me and the people who make me feel comfortable are all amongst my iKON members. For me, I think that Hanbin is my biggest companion and my biggest rival. If you look at it like a marathon, we are each other’s pacemakers? Both of us are competitive. That competitiveness can be used as fuel.
Interviewer: Does B.I know that Bobby got ‘Men of the year’?
BOBBY: He knows. But we don’t get jealous over these kinds of things, we only get stimulated. Anyway, we are in the same team and are like brothers.
Interviewer: Did you give your <Show Me The Money 3> prize money to your mom, like you had professed earlier?
BOBBY: I’m still saving it. I want to make my mom happy in one go. When I was younger I didn’t really know it, but now that I’ve grown up and listened to stories, my mom really struggled and worked hard. I want those memories to go away for her…
Interviewer: Is there anything you want to buy?
BOBBY: Just one or two things. I wanted to buy a watch, but Epik High hyungs bought one for me. They said that they were thankful that I featured on ‘Born Hater,’ and it’s a very meaningful item to me. That watch is the symbol of hip-hop.
Interviewer: Your birthday is in December. Even though it’s not official, it’ll be your first birthday after your debut. What are you going to do?
BOBBY: I’m going to practice. I don’t really want to do anything special. Seriously. Last year, I had a really good time with the members. This year, I just want to practice. I don’t put a lot of importance on birthdays.
Interviewer: Is it because you’ve become an adult?
BOBBY: I don’t know. It’s pretty sad. I feel like I’ve lost some innocence, considering how old I am.
Interviewer: Is it because you’re constantly competing?
BOBBY: That could be part of it. In some sense, at the age when I should be studying, I’ve become known to the world, I’ve come to have a specific dream, and I’m chasing after that dream. So I’ve come to taste reality more quickly.
Interviewer: Is this your 4th year since you became a trainee?
BOBBY: In two months it’ll be 4 years.
Interviewer: Who’s idea was it for you to appear on <Show Me The Money 3>?
BOBBY: While watching seasons 1 and 2, I wanted to go on the show, but when season 3 started, our CEO asked me to go on the show. Rather than showing something off and winning, I went in with the mindset of wanting to see just how far my skills could take me, and to get inspired by meeting new people. Hanbin, who went with me, felt the same. Because we are constantly only with each other, we don’t really know how good our skills are. Even though I won, I wasn’t the best person there.
Interviewer: You’re saying you won even though you weren’t the best?
BOBBY: My rap wasn’t the best, but I think I had powerful performances. I appealed to the people who came to see the performances. But for rap, how could I…
Interviewer: You seem like a fighter who knew how to fight. Someone who could defeat the most powerful odds with your attitude. Strong short-term competitors are like that.
BOBBY: There was so much against me. That’s why I tried my best to express myself. Things I wanted to say and do, you know that there is a prejudice against idol rappers. I think I was really defensive because of that. Plus there were lots of returning rappers on <Show Me The Money 3>.
Interviewer: You had a totally different image than from when you were on YG Entertainment’s survival show <WIN>. You were the so-called mood-maker there, and it was only a year ago.
BOBBY: Well first off, iKON was completed/confirmed as a group, and I am in charge of the rap.If you compare music to a discussion, solo songs give me a lot of time to speak. Within a team, I have less time to speak; I like both. As a solo, I can say everything that’s on my mind, and in a team, the members fill in all the parts I couldn’t even think of.
Interviewer: Now instead of imagining a smiling face, an excited face comes to mind when I think of you. On <Show Me The Money 3> you raised your middle finger right in the front of the camera, and you even cursed.
BOBBY: I became a lot stronger after losing to Team A during <WIN>. I became desperate, because here was a chance that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to keep doing music. I had a lot of worries like, “If I want to protect my music, I need to be cooler than this. What would be cooler? Am I just going to keep living like a baby, a smiling nice kid?” When it’s necessary to frown or put on a frown, I need to, but I felt like my charisma was lacking.
Interviewer: How do you feel when people say, “He’s good for an idol.”?
BOBBY: Ah… If someone thinks that way, I guess I am good for an idol rapper. And my job is to change those thoughts. It’s okay as long as they don’t say ridiculous things like, “That kid Bobby really can’t rap.” I know I can rap.
Interviewer: Do you think you are good enough to stand on a stage / debut now?
BOBBY: I don’t think I’m bad or lame, not from the public’s eyes. But other musicians are watching me too, and the obviously lacking qualities will stand out. That’s my homework for now.
Interviewer: Do you want to be the best of the best musicians?
BOBBY: Yes. Like Michael Jackson. I have to keep going until everyone says, “Bobby, he’s a musician.” I like receiving respect. I want to be honored, whether it’s through my music or my actions. I want to hear people say, “He’s a kid who should be doing this stuff.”
Interviewer: Whether it’s being given or received, respect is bound to have specific objects. Is there a specific person you definitely want to be acknowledged by?
BOBBY: The people I’m not associated with. Specifically, the people who can see me objectively.
Interviewer: You already seem like a veteran on stage. Rather than doing something pre-planned, you have a natural impression. Do you go up with a plan on how you’re going to move?
BOBBY: I don’t like being confined, so I don’t prepare before going on stage. I need to move in the ways I want so that it can be natural. I think that can be a strength for me.
Interviewer: <MIX & MATCH> ended a few days ago. On that show, we saw your ability to enliven your team’s vocals. Like a rejoinder? [*Seems to be referring to Bobby’s ability to rap in harmony/conjunction with the vocals.]
BOBBY: I studied that as well. All we can do is recognize that Korean hip-hop still has a long way to go in comparison to American hip-hop. I researched a lot about the naturalness that African-Americans have, because their lives are hip-hop. Their words, actions, lifestyles, all of it.
Interviewer: Does your experience of growing up in the US help you?
BOBBY: Not exactly. I learned a lot through being with the iKON members. Before I came to YG, I didn’t even know that Eminem was white. I rapped myself, but I didn’t study it much. I think it’s extremely important to have companions who share the same goals and interests.
Interviewer: Does that mean it took 3 years to create the Bobby of today?
BOBBY: That’s right. For example, when my members tell me that something isn’t very good, or what’s cool, etc.
Interviewer: However, <Show Me The Money 3> was where we witnessed Bobby’s dramatic growth. When you had to fight alone without the team members whom you are always with. I guess you could say it’s the first time you became alone.
BOBBY: It was really tough, but it was also fun. The feeling was like, “this is my world, I can do the music I want.” Through competing, I became really selfish/strong-willed. Because I really love rap, and since I was alone, I had a huge desire to show people what my hip-hop was like.
Interviewer: It was also a hard time to promise the future. Because you don’t know when your solo album will come out.
BOBBY: During my last stage on <Show Me The Money 3>, I thought that it could be my last solo stage. So on that day, I couldn’t rap because I was too busy looking into the eyes of the audience. Even so, it felt so great. Even if it’s just one time, I want to try doing music that I made myself.
Interviewer: Like filling up the whole stage yourself?
BOBBY: It’s like that huge stage is my living room, and as the stage gets bigger, my living room gets bigger. When performing as a team, I can’t move out of my lane because it ruins the look; you have no choice but to abstain. But when I’m performing alone, there is no need to abstain. Well, I mean, to a certain extent you may need to. Like if I’m trying to create a specific pathway, but I can do that based on my own feel.
Interviewer: On <Show Me The Money 3> it seemed like you weren’t restricting yourself at all, so you were even more interesting. You really carried that through.
BOBBY: It didn’t turn out how I wanted, but I did restrict myself. I didn’t want to show everything. It scared me a little to think about what I would have left to show after it all.
Interviewer: Even before your official debut, you’ve been on three survival shows. These shows risked your debut, caused you to fight prejudice, and take care of your teammates. What are your thoughts on that?
BOBBY: I think survival is the optimal setting to strengthen your skills. You rip each other apart and hurt each other, you learn your own flaws, it’s extremely hard and you go through a lot emotionally, but when it’s all over, you’ve definitely grown/improved.
Interviewer: I’m sure you’ve experienced competition even as a trainee. Do you think the reason survival programs get you so alert is that you’re being observed by random people/audiences?
BOBBY: I actually don’t get bothered by that. If you’re going to look at me, then look. I’m going to do my thing. I like showing who I am.
Interviewer: Still, does the weight of an official debut feel somewhat different?
BOBBY: It’s entirely different. A solo debut is its own thing, but now I have to do it with my iKON brothers. I think it’s going to be really fun with them. Our music is going to get bigger and bigger, and as a result, I’ll be able to show more of the things I want to say. I’m excited.
Interviewer: Sometimes your relationship with leader B.I reminds us of GD and Taeyang.
BOBBY: I’m super close with Hanbin. And we’re huge rivals, like Seo Taewoong and Kang Baekho from <Slam Dunk>.
Interviewer: I guess the high-spirited Bobby will have to be Kang Baekho?
BOBBY: Is that so? I guess it depends on the situation, B.I can be Kang Baekho, too. But I don’t think we’re like GD and Taeyang, we’re just me and B.I. There are definitely things we’re inferior in, and from a certain standpoint, I think we can have our own merits, too. To be honest, I’m not sure how the outside world views us since we’re alone so much of the time.
Interviewer: I had expected a lot of talk about GD and Taeyang during the interview. But you didn’t even mention it once.
BOBBY: I guess so. I respect them greatly and have learned a lot. But even above GD hyung, there is the universe. I always want to look ahead.
Interviewer: Being a trainee is a position you ultimately just have to endure. Were there any outside temptations?
BOBBY: Not at all. I love this work so much, and I firmly believe that I absolutely have to do this. I think the biggest temptation was wanting to eat a hamburger late at night because I was hungry from practice.
Interviewer: Why did you join YG even though you didn’t particularly love hip-hop while living in the US?
BOBBY: It was by chance. There were few opportunities for auditions in the US, and I was just an average student who rapped. But my hyung friend told me that YG Entertainment was holding auditions in the US. I applied because I wanted to see how good my skills were, and I passed.
Interviewer: Which rapper’s song did you choose for your audition?
BOBBY: A rap I wrote.
Interviewer: Don’t people usually try to perform other people’s songs well? A self-composed song could be dangerous.
BOBBY: At that time, I enjoyed writing rap more than actually rapping. And honestly, I had auditioned for fun, so I wanted to take on the challenge in a fun way.
Interviewer: Lyrics often come from experience, especially rap lyrics. Is there anything you really want to do right now?
BOBBY: I just want to try getting really big. I want to make a lot of money, have lots of sad experiences.. If I had to pick something, I want to experience something heartbreaking. Not even from a lover, but being left by a friend I loved, or something. On <Show Me The Money 3> I said that I wanted to crush the prejudices against idols. That was all from the heart, and that’s why it was so easy/natural to write.
Interviewer: On <Show Me The Money 3>, those lyrics matched well with the heavy trap music, and you won with that as well. What can we expect in the future?
BOBBY: I originally didn’t really like trap beats, but after trying it out, it was fun. It definitely is explosive when performed live, so now I want to try making some relaxing tracks. Something that’s rough but you can still listen to while going to sleep.
Interviewer: Wouldn’t you need a somewhat different voice to do that kind of rap? Right now it’s a quite rough texture; I guess you could say it’s thick?
BOBBY: I used to be really quiet, but I think I discovered that wild voice while doing shows/broadcasts.
Interviewer: On the other hand, the choruses for ‘BOUNCE’ and 'GO’ have a lot of humming. You could say it’s the success secret for rappers like 50 Cent.
BOBBY: I would just turn on the track and work with whatever melody came first. First impression is important, the first thing that comes to mind when you first hear it. Choruses that come about like that are the easiest and coolest.
Interviewer: How do you feel about criticisms that it’s hard to hear your lyrics, or that all the content is too similar? BOBBY: I think people say it’s the same content because I haven’t had the opportunity to show different sides of myself. So that’s okay, because I’ve only done powerful hip-hop. But improving my lyrical pronunciation is currently my biggest assignment. I want to hear people saying, “Oh? I can hear Bobby’s rap clearly.” I am taking such criticism sweetly.
Interviewer: From <Show Me The Money 3> to your featuring in ‘Born Hater,’ you consistently talk about haters.
BOBBY: When people like a star from a young age and that star grows, they always say that he or she has changed. But I think that change is necessary. You need weight to gain respect and become charismatic. There are people who say, “they’ve changed in ways I don’t want to see,” or “he wasn’t originally like that.” It’s criticizing those people, telling them not to be jealous.
Interviewer: Do you think you’ve gained some importance/weight this year?
BOBBY: I hope so. I think I’m still a bit lacking.
Interviewer: In your opinion, what is a cool man?
BOBBY: A man without embellishment. Being raw.
Interviewer: Are you a manly person?
BOBBY: I’m working on it. My personality isn’t the type to like embellishment. Being superficial and such.
Interviewer: On <Show Me The Money 3> you said that you seriously wanted to beat Vasco, rapper of 14 years. Eventually you did. Have you ever thought about rapper Bobby in 14 years?
BOBBY: Human beings themselves are weak. There will be many battles for the next 14 years. If I am able to win all those battles, I think I can gain acknowledgment from everyone. People will say that I’m a really cool and respectable kid… But if I can’t get through even one thing within those 14 years, won’t I become defeated?
The Hip-Hop Fellow is a 78 minute documentary following Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard University as he teaches ‘The Standards of Hip-Hop’ course, conducts research for his thesis and explores hip-hop’s history, culture and role in academia. The film centers on the emerging significance of incorporating hip-hop studies into the academy and spotlights the scholars and musicians at the forefront of preserving 40 years of hip-hop culture.
Interviewees include Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Kendrick Lamar, Young Guru, Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, Phonte, Dr. Marcyliena Morgan, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Ab-Soul, Rapper Big Pooh & DJ Premier.