Okasian: I started liking hip hop since high school and when I entered college, I wrote rap lyrics for fun and somehow I ended up recording as well, realizing how fun it was later on. What started as a hobby for fun became something I spent more time in writing rap lyrics for, and so it made its way naturally.
Okasian: The nickname is OK combined with Asian. If you read it, it sounds like the word “occasion.” It can mean that in any occasion, I’m OK with it and am able to be accepting of everything in working harder.
Okasian: Cohort. The members of the crew are Okasian, Reddy, O$CAR, JayAllDay, $WIDEA, Cokejazz, and Kangkook. The name of the crew was made by O$CAR & Kangkook, and the amount of members increased with meeting more people and getting to know them. There isn’t some bombastic motive we have as a crew, but we’re just friends who like the same things and hang around together. Unlike other crews however, we’re not all musicians. We’re really just a crew, clique, gang. We’re currently designing our own clothing so we’re thinking about starting up a business for the future that’s not too far ahead of us from now.
Okasian: “You’re the One,” “All In,” and “Goodnight.”
Okasian: I think the human Kim Jiyong behaves in the manner of chasing after being happy at the moments when it’s possible. That’s also why I pursue in music. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a job, as it can be girls or money but as a musician, my actions are to make good music. Good music varies by the person but for me, I like music that’s fun and honest, something that can make others dance and think.
Okasian: To be honest, in the meaning of respect, I don’t necessarily respect a lot of people so if I do respect someone, it’s by a lot and for others, I have respect for them.
From now on
Okasian: I’m working on putting out an EP album by the end of this year and it’s titled “Boarding Procedures.”
Okasian: All the people in Hi-Lite and Cohort are awesome people so we guarantee that the time spent in putting your attentions on us won’t go to waste. Also, if there’s a chance, I hope that everyone will live in having as much fun as they can. Everyone!
Takeone: The reason why I began liking hip hop was because of MC Sniper. Whenever I went to karaoke with my family members when I was in elementary school, I was really tired of them either singing ballads or trot all the time. I never had a huge interest in music overall up until I listened to the song “Korean” by MC Sniper on a TV commercial one day. I was honestly really shocked then after listening to it. I had listened to Eminem and Jay-Z before and maybe it was because they were foreigners that I couldn’t correlate it as rap but after listening to “Korean,” I felt what rap really was and that this was Korean hip hop. I think the song was more meaningful since I listened to it right on the day I was leaving to study abroad. And that led to me listening to all of MC Sniper’s albums, allowing me to know about Baechigi, Drunken Tiger, Dynamic Duo, Epik High, Movement, and Soul Company. I think from then onwards, I listened to whatever I saw in Korean hip hop. When I started rapping however, it was in middle school. My mom said that if I got 100 points on my midterm, she’d buy me whatever I wanted. I studied for nights on end and I ended up scoring a 95. For my efforts on studying hard, I ended up getting a PSP. Little did I know that the device was able to playback videos so I started looking around for hip hop videos on the internet to put into my PSP, coincidentally coming across the café site Jungle Radio. I was downloading music videos from there and the video I really felt a trigger from was Miller (Way)’s freestyle rap battle in which I believe Sool J had won. After watching this video, this was the first time I realized that any average person can rap. Afterwards, I went to the freeboard and for the first time, I was seeing uploaded music by other people. I thought they were all official artists at first because they seemed awesome, but I later found out that it was all self-recorded songs. I wanted to try it for myself so I went out to buy a microphone and recorded my written lyrics. I never dreamed big of what I wanted to do but after my first recording session, I found out my goals and dreams.
Takeone: My rapper nickname was originally Babo. It didn’t have much meaning to it since my gamer ID was always “baboz*” so it naturally became Babo when I’d upload my self-recorded tracks as well. But when I came to Korea and met other people pursuing in music, I began to get a grasp of how to make music and the details that come out of creating an album…after having knowledge of the system, I found out that what I was doing was on the same level as doing it for a hobby. In wanting to be serious about music, I ended up changing my rapper nickname. I also thought it’d be funny if I put out future albums under the name Babo as well. Anyway, I could only think of my real name, which is Kim Taekyun, and there were already others with the same name, like the comedian or the baseball player. The only thing I could think of is Taekwen. In my passport, my name is written as Tae Kwen Kim so it was hard for friends abroad to call me by my name and they’d always end up pronouncing it as “Takewon, Takewon,” which led me to change it up a little and thus Takeone was born. There’s no big meaning behind it but if I had to choose one, it would be that most film directing have cuts and start off with “Take 1” or “Take 2” for each scene. Just like that, the meaning of Takeone is a start, attempt, and going through the process. There’s the saying of “the start is always the hardest and the beginning is half of everything.” You can relate it to my actions.
Takeone: I’m under a lot of crews. If I list them all out, they are Chatterbox Group, BBK, Cookiz, BuckWilds, and Do’Main. One of the first people I worked with musically was Giriboy at the time when he lived in Nowon and with the other hyungs who did music with him, they formed the crew Chatterbox Group. I didn’t live in Nowon at the time but after working on music together and getting to know one another, I became a part of their crew. There are people in the crew now who either quit music or haven't kept in contact as well as haven't been promoting but I never related the term "crew" for promotional purposes. I always thought it meant to be a group of people who are close so I still consistently give them shout outs. As for BBK, these people called Kim Combi were making raps through Voiceware and I realized that these people were people I knew through music and having been bored and mischievous at the time, I ended up working together with them. That's how I ended up joining BBK but rather than starting something seriously, I think I joined them because it was fun. As of right now, Kim Combi quit Voiceware so I don't think anything will be released under BBK.
As for Cookiz, I was still rapping under the name Babo via the internet and Rimi nuna along with Gamja hyung had come across my track called “New York” through DC Tribe where it spread. Since then, we worked together and when I came back to Korea, I was introduced to Warmman hyung and joined the crew called Cookiz. At the time, they had the motive of recruiting rookies and creating a YoungMoney feel when forming the crew but as I had mentioned before, I didn’t like music promotions as a crew so I even dropped out of working on the compilation album also. Warmman hyung ended up setting up a music label afterwards and Cookiz started to drift apart but we’re still Cookiz to this day. For Buckwilds, Jtong hyung just liked me and told me, “Be a part of Buckwilds.” For Do’Main, it’s a crew made with friends who’ve been doing music with me since the beginning. When I started living abroad, Andup at the time was very against it so I didn’t join but did so when I came back to Korea. Do’Main is also rooted more as a group of friends while doing music rather than promoting. If we get along, we naturally become Do’Main. A lot of people are iffy about me being a part of so many crews but to rebuke against their words, crews to me are no different than my classmates from elementary school, middle school, and high school. Even if we don’t know each other that well, we’re all friendly and there are also those who like me just the same. I don’t know why this fact is so embarrassing to others to be honest.
Takeone: I think my representing track is “The Tae Kwen” from my mixtape that I released this year titled “Takeone For the Team.” Although it’s been a while since time passed by, the emotions, situation, location, and reflection over myself at the time of producing the track represents me very well. It’s a song I still perform often and I like the instrumental in general. I also like music with this kind of feel to it.
Takeone: There’s popular phrases in hip hop music and those are “Show and prove” and “Keep it real.” I think the most critical criteria for these two phrases is behavior. Whether it’s lyrics, words, or actions, I think that in life and as a rapper, those who act opposite of those words seem to lose their coolness. For example, I’ve seen so many instances where people who have no production work of their own and can’t even rap that well put out multiple albums and speak about quite famous rappers as if they’re just average and can’t seem to compare to themselves. They probably don’t even think that way…but the actions I mentioned just now are not only different from the definition of “Show and prove,” but it’s different for “Keep it real” as well. I think it has to do with the fact that you haven’t proven yourself and aren’t confident in who you are, so it makes you seem less cool. But from what I’ve seen in rappers who have that mindset down, I’ve never seen them act that way. They’re cool. I think the actions I need to carry out from now and onward are these set of actions.
Takeone: For me, respect is also one type of action. I don’t believe that idolizing another artist is respect. What I think of respect is that it counts people, music, genre, lyrics, words, and actions altogether. Respect itself doesn’t discriminate and is open; the action of being able to lower one’s self is respect. I think a few people clash the ideas of idolizing with respect for rappers but for me, I respect the Korean hip hop artists who have the same mentality of respect as me. Of course, props are a given to their achievements.
Takeone: First off, I don’t have an exact role model for a rapper. Rather than thinking about who I should rap like, I think I gain inspirations from famous international rappers I tend to listen to, Jay-Z, Nas, The Game, T.I, Kanye, and Eminem to name a few. They seem to be like my role models considering I don’t have a lot of underground rappers for my foreign hip hop playlist, but never did I ever think that I wanted to become like them. What I mean by this is that I want to become famous and make money with the music I want to do.
From now on
Takeone: My goal is definitely to achieve them from now on. If I go into detail about my official works, I don’t think I’ll be working on a mixtape for a while so I’m preparing for an official work, in which my goal for now is an official album. It’s something I have to discuss with the company so it could be a mini album or an EP, as nothing is set in stone. Anyway, as I did so with my mixtape release, my goal is to not put out embarrassing works to myself in the future.
Takeone: I feel like my interview was hella long…sorry. Don’t trust the media as it is. And fuck the system…sea pearl.
Ugly Duck: I don’t think I started by saying, “I’m going to do hip hop!!” When I was younger, it was easier to access hip hop through broadcasts so I think it was given for me to sing along to it like any other song. When I started digging deeper while listening, I thought, “Wow! There’s a different culture like this one” and that’s when I started falling into it. I first started writing lyrics when I entered high school…even then, it was just something I was “trying.” I randomly went to the place that they did cyphers at and tried freestyles also, which naturally led me to recording and posting them online as well as performing in front others…also, this may be really unfitting with my image, but I played for the school band and learned how to play the clarinet. Thanks to that, whether it’s breathing or vocalizing, it helped me improve a lot in rapping. Time passed by instantly and soon enough, I already graduated high school? People think once in a while, “What did I do well?” I thought it was rap so I started officially with a determined mentality.
Ugly Duck: It has a lot of meanings. If you translate it literally, well, it means an ugly duck. Of course, it relates somewhat to my appearance as well. Despite the word “ugly” connoting something negative, I wanted to twist that into giving off the ambience of “I’m still better than you even if I’m ugly.” This is also why I wrote down the lyrics, “I don’t care about being a swan. I like being like this.” But the biggest reason behind this name is that I wanted to rap “ugly.” There’s the phrase, “Ugly truth” and if you reverse it, it becomes “Truth is ugly” meaning I’m the truth! I guess I just felt compelled to the word “ugly” and thought of it as cool. Of course, I still think it’s cool to this day. I like it because it feels like hip hop. I started going by this…well, I had another penname before this one but at the time, I didn’t really have the determination to dive into rapping but once I did, I went by this (Ugly Duck) name.
Ugly Duck: Right now, I’m under Do’Main and Buckwilds. For Do’Main, it’s a crew with friends who I first met when I started rapping. Everyone is unique and good…when we meet up, it’s fun. Without any explanation, it’s just the best. For Buckwilds, many people know it as Jtong’s crew and it was a crew formed in Busan. I’m from Gwangju though…but when I was in my third year of high school, I followed my friend Gganmo to a Busan performance and that’s when I first met our captain Jtong. At the time, Jtong hyung told me, “You join Buckwilds too!” but I was scared and said I wouldn’t….after I turned 20, I showed him my rap to listen to via an online messenger and he asked me again, “Do you want to be a part of Buckwilds? Or no?” But that’s when I had seen him often and gotten to know him so without any hesitation, I told him “Sure.” But to be honest, both crews to me are the same. The duration of how long I’ve known the people are nearly the same…well, pretty much the same really. “Jtong recruited the members of Do’Main.” Anyway, I like it. I don’t think there’s a crew out there like them. We just gathered up the weird ones!
Ugly Duck: The work I put out under my name to the world are just a few featurings and a few mixtapes, but…hrm. I think it’d have to be “Ugly Boy,” the track I perform the most, the track I like the most, and it was in my mixtape which was remixed from the original single track “Bad Boys” from “Basick x B-Free,” produced by Vasco. I knew I had to do something but I didn’t know a producer so I thought, “Why not rap on top of an instrumental from Korean hip hop?” which is how I began preparing for my mixtape. So I started gathering up instrumentals of Korean hip hop songs that were released and out of them all, I think this one truly portrayed my rap the “ugliest.”
Ugly Duck: Going outside of hip hop, I think one needs to have a mindset of always learning and studying to improve in anything they do. Despite the word being “study,” it’s not the study that we associate to what society knows it by. By studying, I mean in getting to know something…it still has the basis of what studying is but rather than learning the concepts, it’s the concept that we realize after feeling it and thinking about it on our own. Whether it's music or games, if you don't know the fruit of labor, then you don't know shit. You'll probably just be sitting there staring off into space unable to do anything. And the Korean hip hop artists we know who crossed this path didn't choose it by college or was hired like other jobs may consider; it's completely different. I think we need to carry ourselves with responsibility and this applies for me as well.
Ugly Duck: I think the term “respect” needs to be embedded in an artist's mind. It's not that hard to respect one another. But that doesn't mean that if you can't understand it, that you should pretend you do. In a situation like that where you're pretending to understand it, then you're no different from a scammer. No respect.
Ugly Duck: Goals...role model...I don't really have a designated one. I know this sounds very vague, but I just want to be better than I am right now and that's applied in all aspects of what I do. There's a lot of awesome people out there and I have so much to learn from them. To me, they're all my role models and my goals to become like them. If I think about stuff like this, there's no end to it...I just want to become a completed person...ah, I don't know...this is too difficult.
From now on
Ugly Duck: Whether my title will be a LP, EP, or a mixtape, nothing is set in stone but I will come out with something official within this year no matter what. Because I don't have a company I'm housed under, it changes a lot by my greed as well...but knowing my will to do so, I'm sure it'll happen and that ugly tracks will be released.
Ugly Duck: I'll do well.