Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tiger JK leaves Jungle Entertainment

For the fans who follow Tiger JK on Twitter, this may be news 22 hours too late. But for those of you who don't, this may be news that I can slap onto my blog to pass as new.

The title of this post is self explanatory - Tiger JK left Jungle Entertainment. Tracking back to his Twitter, he tweeted, "Leaving jungle Ent … free agent !!!" as a means of declaring his freedom from the label he's been under for so long.

Half of me is thinking, "It's finally time he's moved out of Jungle" and the other half is thinking, "So...is he going back to the underground scene?" 

Starting with the first half, I somehow saw this coming. I mean, look at Jungle Entertainment. The only thing that's still keeping them as a running contender is the fact that they have Leessang, in which they're just using Jungle as a safety net for when things go wrong with their actual label, Leessang Company. In other words, Jungle is dead weight trying to drag the "hip hop concept" across the dirt one last time for M.I.B before they realize that no one knows who they are.

Then I start thinking about the other half. Although Tiger JK has built credibility over the years as one of the first rappers from the first generation of Korean hip hop, times have definitely changed. Despite being a "super senior" into the game, the scene is filled with rappers in their 10s and 20s, the ones in their 30s having started in their early 20s. Hip hop has become a trend in our society where sticking your finger up under your nose while you rap with your snapback worn backwards is what makes you half the rapper that you are. The message, deliverance, image, and sound has changed overall and it makes me wonder how he'll step back foot into the scene, if he even will.

Or then I begin to think, will he continue to go mainstream? Then what will happen to MFBTY? And what about his wife Yoon Mirae, who's still under Jungle? Bizzy?

So many questions that won't be answered anytime soon since he tweeted soon after his declaration of independence that he has family stuff to work on, to which still makes me cock my head to the side a little considering he's barely done any form of music promotion (MFBTY barely even counts because no one knew he was back) for the last couple of years.

So...I guess congratulations to him for doing something with himself in lifting off the dead weight, but good luck to your unclear future? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

[Editorial] Hip hop rappers reporting for duty!

(Comedian Sam Hammington, a fixed cast member of the MBC show 'Real Men')

"Hip hop rappers reporting for duty!"

Wait, if you're reporting for duty, why are you dressed in your almost-there skinny jeans and holding a microphone on stage? And why are you putting out albums? Hold up, let's rewind this back a little.

Should we start off with what happened barely a week ago when news of The Quiett performing on the side while being in public service hit the fan? Or should we fast forward a little and talk about what happened last night when Crucial Star got busted for doing public service also? 

I guess I'll rewind way back into the history of the Korean army and their service policies before I unravel each story one by one. 

As many of you might know, in South Korea, it's mandatory for all men to serve in the military. Usually, men start their service as soon as they graduate from high school at the age of 19. So how come you see Korean pop stars enlisting at the age of 28, a nearly 10 year gap? There are various ways to delay your enlistment through reasons like school or work, but eventually you'll still receive a letter with your enlistment date stamped right on it. There have also been cases where certain celebrities like MC Mong and actor Song Seung Hun who have tried evading enlistment, only to end up either exiled from the industry or being forced to enlist after creating much havoc with the press. And then we have our rare – very rare – cases of celebrities having to re-enlist due to exceeding the amount of public events performed while serving in the military, as demonstrated by Mr. Gangnam Style himself, Psy

And what happened a few days ago with The Quiett was that he performed at shows and put out albums and songs that were available for purchase on online music sites. So what's the big deal? I mean, he is an artist, right?

Wrong. According to Korean military laws, you're not supposed to perform any commercial activity unless it's at military/government events. Although the government does pay you, it's very little and considering that these celebrities have made much more through commercial activity or performing at events, they obviously want to take the route they've been cruising along for so long.

"But The Quiett is doing public service, no? Then shouldn't he be exempt?" 

Just because you're a public figure doesn't mean you're exempt from this rule. If anything, it's much more enforced because you are a public figure. Public service is an easy way out for celebrities because they're public figures. You're free to live at home and do office work in the military if you're a public soldier while if you're an active soldier, you remain in the military base. 

Whether you're a hip hop rapper, a KPOP singer, or an actor, going down the public service route is looked down upon because the majority of Korean men are forced down the active duty route and have to suffer while celebrities live in the comfort of their own home and work in the office for a few hours. 

So how did Crucial Star get tied into this?

Apparently, two days ago according to Korean time (15th), someone on DC Hip Hop Gallery posted, "Isn't Crucial Star in public service also?" No one really cared for it until people who crossed the post began to think about it and attacked Crucial Star on Twitter. I mean, he's 24 years old when most men would have either served or is serving in the military but considering he made his debut early under the duo Libra Twins, quickly to be picked up by Soul Company, it made every sense for people to question if he was serving, had served, or is planning to serve. 

And then this happened.

"First off, I want to apologize to the many fans who have watched me for a long while with much interest, which is why I'm writing up this post. With the news of my much-admired musician and senior The Quiett hyung, my heart continued to feel heavy and the reason is because I also am currently doing public service. With not much time left until I'm discharged from the military, I thought about hiding it till then but not wanting to bring bigger disappointment to my fans, I have made up my mind to apologize officially. Although in result I did perform commercial activity, I didn't want to stop music. I was also scared that I'd be forgotten. Everything was a result of my greed and I realize now that these methods were wrong. I'm taking responsibility as a person who grows from the love of their fans and I truly apologize for this. While reflecting on my actions, I will efficiently finish up the rest of my service."

And then this came up, an official statement from Crucial Star's label, Grandline Entertainment:

"We as Grandline Entertainment realize we take great responsibility for the position Crucial Star is currently in right now. We deeply apologize to the many who listen to Crucial Star and Grandline's music. 

As a company, we hold responsibility for needing to direct their artists better and to halt any form of music activities. Because it can hurt the artist, we hope that in this situation you hold back your slanders towards Crucial Star and take it out on us as we, Grandline Entertainment, is at wrong in this situation.

It makes us think back to what music means for these musicians in the indie/hip hop scene without anything to live by as they dive straight in. And during his service, Crucial Star has efficiently done his deed while serving and has maintained a good relationship with his coworkers at the office he is stationed at. We find that it's impossible to have done both – serving in the military whilst working on his music – without efficiency and his passion for music. In result, we're disappointed at ourselves that the damage was done to an artist based off of our wrong decision. 

From now on, we decided to stop all music services of Crucial Star's that was released under Grandline Entertainment and to cancel any upcoming schedules. We as Grandline Entertainment will accept all criticisms in regard to this issue and we apologize once again for what has happened."

But the post by Grandline Entertainment was quickly taken down when the slanders got out of control, saying how passion for music is a mere excuse for trying to make profit when he should be focusing on his service. The label deleted all of their recent tweets regarding to the issue and Crucial Star deactivated his Twitter. 

So, what now? 

Well, the Crucial Star search on Twitter is a mess right now, fangirls crying for oppa to come back, fangirls being patient and waiting for oppa, fangirls crying in anger about oppa betraying them, and last but not least, the angry men who have either served or already served in active duty that are pissed about another celebrity soldier going through public service and getting caught for it. 

There's no guarantee how much damage this has done to his career so far and can only determined from the response of the public when he puts out an album after his service is done and his reflection period is over. As for Grandline Entertainment, they'll probably have to slave Geeks some more to make up for losing one of the two biggest players on their team. 

Meanwhile, for The Quiett, he's penalized to serve an extra 5 days in his service but that doesn't amount to the disappointment in him. Although Crucial Star is quite popular himself, The Quiett has a larger fan base for a) being in the industry much longer b) building his name for being one of the most talented producers of the Korean hip hop industry and c) working with mainstream artists, adding up to all the more disappointment in him. 

In a sense, I understand why underground artists are more desperate in wanting to perform, not just for money sakes, but the fact that they're below a rookie mainstream artist for simply working underground and that 22 months is a long time for an artist to be away and a short time for an artist to be forgotten. However, there's no valid reason for them to have gone down the public service route. 

All in all, this is just an informative post of the two top hip hop rappers in the scene right now and could foreshadow a train of other artists, whether they're more popular or lesser known than these two, to follow their footsteps. Let's just hope no one goes Gangnam Style into the military twice!

Monday, May 13, 2013

[Hiphopplaya] Joosuc Mini Interview - The Establishment of Finest Records

HHP: Hello, can you introduce yourself to the readers of Hiphopplaya. 

Joosuc: Hello, this is Joosuc. It’s been a while since I’ve greeted you all.

HHP: How have you been doing since your last 5.5 mini album concert?

Joosuc: I’ve spent a lot of time setting up my label. I felt like I was going back to my original feel after a few years so I’ve set aside some time setting up plans here and there, considering that this is a very important time in my life.

HHP: I suppose you can consider March 1st of 2013 as Finest Records’ official date for the label being renewed and we’re curious about the reason for this renewal. 

Joosuc: Finest Records was original established in 2005 and our plans were to promote as an independent label despite being under an agency but due to various reasons, those plans were cancelled. It’s always been on my mind to set up the label again and to do music promotions so once my contract had ended with my agency, I went straight into officially announcing the recreation of my label. Also, in wanting to hold meaning to setting up an independent label, I chose March 1st as the official date of the renewal.
[*T/N: March 1st is Korean Independence Day]

HHP: Please give an introduction of your artists Jindo Dog and Mayson the Soul who joined Finest Records.

Joosuc: As many of you may know, Jindo Dog was a friend I met through the program ‘Show Me the Money’ from Mnet of last year. During that time, we were able to spend a lot of time together and I think we ended up on the same boat due to the reason that we simply had a lot of stage performances together. From the start, he didn’t know anything about me, whether it being my music or my image so he didn’t have much thoughts of me. It was through being on the program that we were able to hold some truthful conversations that we saw how alike our personalities and our ways of thinking are as well as seeing similarities in our actions towards music, so we decided to join forces. In the second round of auditions, I already was in awe of Jindo Dog’s rap style and in result, he agreed with my values which made him firm on his decision in joining me. Seeing him made me see myself when I was younger and  I liked that he was sure on his thoughts towards music and set music as his core over promoting on broadcasts or in the entertainment industry.
With Mayson the Soul on the other hand, he joined as a peculiar case. There was a point in time when Triump, a rapper from Incheon, was in and out of our studio for a few months and it was through him that I got to know Mayson; we also found out that he took part in Jindo Dog’s first mixtape, “My Life.” The track he took part in wasn’t really my style so I didn’t have great interest in him at first, but I found the musical talent that Mayson held when he walked into my studio with a sample of his mixtape he was preparing at the time, which was when I asked him to join me right then and there. Mayson worked part time at a live pub performing with a guitar or piano while singing and had auditioned for ‘Superstar K’ in the past, as that was his only experience. I can say that in looking at Mayson, his merit is his rare vocals. His music spectrum is fairly broad so beats he makes himself are considered unique and hard to find in Korea as well as his vocals being hard to find in typical R&B tracks, so I consider these as his biggest charming points. The music he claims to strive towards is blue-eyed-soul so you can get a different feel from just straight American music.

HHP: You released your single “One Way Ticket.” What kind of track is it?

Joosuc: “One Way Ticket” is single that’s an introductory track to our label. Like the ticket, there’s no returning ticket and holds the meaning of us going towards our one and only goal. It’s the first track that we’re releasing under the label so after much deliberation, we decided to go for a vacation concept to start things off.

HHP: We heard that you filmed as well as edited the music video for the single yourself. Were there any difficulties?

Joosuc: I had wanted to direct music videos before and with this single having meaning to it, I decided to challenge myself. Having started filming and editing with no prior knowledge and being in various music videos for over ten years, there weren’t any difficulties with camera work as ideas naturally flowed. However, in order to express my ideas into a video, I needed to know the fundamentals of editing programs but due to a time constraint, it was very difficult. This was why we decided to use an outdoors location from the start so that we won’t need to use a lot of video effects. With consideration of low budgeting, outdoor filming and light works, and having not a lot of knowledge in editing, there’s a lot of disappointment in terms of quality and ideas not being properly expressed in the video. Other difficulties included explaining to another musician on the camera angles for filming my part. However, the benefit to it was that the out budget was used for only food and gas. As a producer, I’m proud of how the video turned out, considering it was entry-level and I’ll take this as a practice round for upcoming videos in the future by getting the helps of proper equipment and staff to capture the true qualities. 

HHP: We’re curious about Finest Records’ goals for the future.

Joosuc: In June of 2013, Mayson the Soul will release a mini album and around August or September, Joosuc will release an official 6th album. Meanwhile, for Jindo Dog, he’ll release a mini album or an official debut album around October or November. Before the release of each artist’s respective albums, we plan on releasing about one or two singles beforehand.

HHP: Tell us your plans as a musician for the future, Joosuc.

Joosuc: In signing with an agency, I had taken a long hiatus unknowingly so I spent my time in disappointment but now, I’m ready to unveil the second round of the musical aspect in my life, starting with the establishment of Finest Records. Although it’ll be difficult seeing me on broadcasts due to being an independent label, but I’m planning on pursuing the music I want and as the head of the label, I have no need to succumb to pressure of others when making an album and I feel as if I had gone back to the old Joosuc.

HHP: Do you have any words to the fans of hip hop?

Joosuc: Finest Records! We Finest! Anticipate us a lot. 

Source: Hiphopplaya
Translated by: Uncharted Sound