Some time ago it was announced that Mnet would launch a new show called Show Me The Money. It is Mnet’s first hiphop centered show for a decade and on international k-pop blogs it was touted as “the rapper version of I Am A Singer“.
Being found of the original I Am A Singer format and having planned to get back into Korean hiphop again for many years, I figured it could be fun to check out on occasion. And since I learned that others would be watching too, and it’s so much fun to do the Top Band 2 and I Am A Singer 2 commentaries I figured we might as well add another one to the site. So now we’ve got a Show Me The Money commentary panel consisting of Ranya of K-Underground Sweden, Sangha of strangeseasons and myself. Only Ranya really knows anything about Korean hiphop though, so if you think we’re all wrong and/or would like to add your thoughts we might have a spot open…
Anna: So Eun Ji Won will be the MC of this show? I always had difficulties taking him seriously as a rapper with his SechsKies background, but I have a feeling I will come off as ignorant and/or very old many times while watching this. Which is also why I’ve been looking forward to it so much… As a quick background, I got into Korean hip hop with 1999 대한민국 and Drunken Tiger’s Year of the Tiger, but already after their The Great Rebirth I stopped keeping up. The only hiphop album I’ve really listened to since was itta’s outstanding Re:POPS!
Ranya: Quick background for me, got introduced to Korean music in ‘04/05 with Rain, but only really got into K-hiphop at first. Drunken Tiger was also the first I heard from that scene, which made me find other rappers within the Movement and then it all just went from there.
Sangha: I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t really know much about Korean hip-hop, other than bits and pieces I’ve heard here and there! I’ve been trying to read up on it though to prep myself for this show, so hopefully I won’t be too lost. As for me, Epik High was one of the very first Korean groups that I really liked, and from there I continued to casually listen to other hip-hop acts, but it was never something I seriously got into.
Anna: I never actually listened to Garion, so I only really know MC Meta from what little I’ve heard of MC Meta & DJ Wreckx.
Ranya: The last I heard from Garion was actually a link Anna sent me the other week! They did pretty well with rapping alongside some heavy rock. MC Meta has really good flow, it’ll be fun to see how they do here!
Anna: Oh yeah! The one with HarryBigButton! That was awesome, though for some reason I failed to remember that it was Garion there. Collaborations with ‘my’ usual artists is usually how I come to listen to any sort of rap nowadays.
Sangha: I’ve heard about Garion before but I’ve never actually listened to them. I do know that they’re known for rapping mostly (if not all?) in Korean, so I’m interested to see what they do on the show.
Introducing Double K
Ranya: It’s lovely to see Movement rappers on here, what I’ve heard from Double K are mostly things where other artist have been featured, like Tablo, Dok2 etc.
Anna: I’ve seen his name around a number of times, primarily collaborating with others as suggested by Ranya, but am unsure what to expect of him.
Sangha: Same here, I’ve only ever listened to his featurings. But damn that boy is mighty fine. I approve of this casting.
Anna: I never knew she used to be in Honey Family! Seems like that was after my time. Brown Eyed Girls has been one of my favorite idol groups (though I’m still waiting for the next “어쩌다”) and I liked what she was trying to do with her solo EP, so I’ll be looking forward to whatever she has lined up.
Ranya: Not ashamed to say that Miryo was the reason I wanted to watch this. When I got into Korean music, I never really fell in love with a girl group until I managed to find Brown Eyed Girls. Their older stuff is a lot more soulful and R&B than their more pop-y releases like Sound G, so it wasn’t a very hard transition for me (although I do recommend checking out her older collabs where she really does get to shine). It’s not hard to completely fall in love with Miryo, just look at this amazing freestyle with Lee Han. Enjoyed the tiny clip of 19-year old Miryo at the freestyle battle with Honey Family, so cute!
Sangha: I really like Brown Eyed Girls but I was never a huge fan of Miryo. Maybe I just haven’t heard enough from her though, because I know that the general consensus is that she is super talented. I wasn’t a huge fan of her recent single, either. I’m looking forward to her performances on the show to really win me over this time.
Introducing Verbal Jint
Anna: Verbal Jint is the whole reason why I thought we could put this commentary series on Korean Indie. I know him best from his collaborations with big Hongdae names, and I’ve seen him pull off more of a typical café singer-songwriter style on YouTube. I’m very curious to what he’ll do on this show and am hoping it’ll allow for him to bring more of his non-rapper friends on stage.
Ranya: Verbal Jint is becoming a more famous name lately thanks to artists like G.Na. I was so happy to see that he was going to be on here, he’s just got great flow and heaps of talent. His type of style is also a lot more laid back, so he’s the kind of rapper that easily hits it home with the indie crowd.
Sangha: Verbal Jint! Someone that I know a bit about, haha. I’d actually say that Verbal Jint was pretty famous even before his collab with G.Na… I know that he’s gotten a lot of media coverage / exposure since earlier thanks to his (academic) background. He is also famous for his voice and he’s done tons of voiceovers in popular CFs. I’m pumped that he’s on the show… he seems like an interesting individual and I’ve always wanted to see how he interacts with other rappers since he is also notorious for his disses. I like his style as well.
Anna: This is one of those names I know I really should have listened to so it’ll be great to actually get to know them through this show.
Sangha: Same here. Haven’t heard anything from them, hopefully I’ll get to know them more through the show.
Introducing MC Sniper
Ranya: MC Sniper had a comeback about a month ago so if you’ve been watching Mnet’s M! Countdown, you might have catched a glimpse of him and the song “Push it”. He’s also an adorable shortie.
Anna: I never really listened to MC Sniper and perhaps for that reason have thought of him more as a K-pop idol than a rapper.
Sangha: I haven’t heard anything from MC Sniper after his single “마법의 성” because it was such a big turn-off, I hated that song with a passion. I feel like he’s always playing it safe, which is another reason why I’m not the biggest fan of him. Curious to see how he will play it out on the show with the contestants.
Ranya: …I might have a vague memory of “Pop ‘n Drop”.
Sangha: this name is awfully familiar to me but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything he’s done…
Introducing Hoony Hoon
Anna: I might not keep in touch with Korean hiphop, but even so I thought I had a fairly decent idea of who’s who. This beatboxer I’d never even heard of before the show.
Ranya: See, I saw his name being mentioned on my tumblr feed, but I am just as lost as you Anna.
Survival Show Details
For this survival style show some of Korea’s best rappers will collaborate with rookies. Performances will be ranked by the audience and in the end one team will be eliminated.
Ranya: We know the show is called “Show me the money”, but please, no need to get so literal about it by actually throwing around fake bills in the air. Also wow that’s a sparkly microphone, very gangsta.
Sangha: The blinged mics got me, too! I don’t know what to think of this.
A large amount of people has gathered outside the place of audition. Lining up inside their skills are examined by one of the main rappers of the show and those that move on to the next stage get a sticker.
Anna: Ooh! I didn’t realize there would be auditions for this! When I heard the main rappers on the show would team up with rookies I had thought they would’ve somehow handpick their own favorites from the underground scene, but it seems auditions were open to anyone.
Ranya: Oh, I am into this concept of collaborations between rookie rappers/beatboxers and established ones and that anyone got to audition really seemed to open up a lot more opportunities for the young rappers in Korea that may not have been so fortunate to know anyone in the industry.
Sangha: I’m super excited to see the interactions and all the drama between the established rappers and the contestants! I’m finding the first round audition format really questionable though… only two judges see you and determine whether you make it or not, after listening to you rap for a couple of lines?
Anna: Looks like TakeOne is auditioning too! Like with most of the ‘real’ rappers on the show I haven’t really listened to him, but at least I recognize the name. American Toy Brown is in Korea trying out for a lot of audition shows and also audition for the big labels. She seems very determined to make it somewhere. Could definitely be fun to see more of her, even though this is probably the most low profile out of all she’s got her mind set on. The 36-year old ajusshi rapper was cute too. Some of those auditions were just too embarrassing though….
Ranya: I never thought breaking out in a Pitbull song would help you get chosen. The highlight of these auditions are definitely watching the other applicants faces as the ones next to them are making fools of themselves. Is that Kim Kyung Jin? I see Verbal is very hard to impress and that swearing is not appreciated with the rapper Sunbae’s.
Around 120 people made it through the first stage and they’re now being cut down to just 40, seemingly without any additional auditions. For the second stage the auditioning rappers team up in pairs to perform a routine in front of all the main rappers on the show.
Sangha: the speed at which this show is progressing is amazing.. I remember for Top Band 2 they spent 4-5 episodes alone on the first stage, I believe? And here, only 20 minutes into the first episode and already moving onto the second stage! Mnet’s really mastering the audition program format, aren’t they?
* rapper moved on to the next stage
Kim Jung Hoon* + Choi Won Suk*
Ranya: Awwh, poor Kim Jung Hoon got off to a rocky start, but once he got going he wasn’t bad at all! I think the judges were comparing him to E-Sens? My Korean is a bit rocky. Both seem to really impress the judges, nice work guys!
Anna: I think I heard the same thing. Indeed, nice work from both of them.
Sangha: Kim Jung Hoon is already my favourite contestant so far! He’s kinda adorable in an awkward way. And E-Sens is my favourite Korean rapper and I really like styles like theirs. He seemed really nervous though and I hope he gets more confident in the future because I absolutely love his style. They called him a “drunk and dirtier” version of E-Sens, which is so fitting and funny! And Choi Won Suk was impressive too.
Kim Yong Han* + Son Seok Joo
Anna: In the freestyle battle they got to do after their I found it funny how Kim Yong Han is dissing the other guy’s fashion, especially with how the camera illustrated it. But then that’s about the only thing I could grasp on my own..
Ranya: I liked how they managed to come up with a hook that even had the judges singing along with it. Something about Yong Han bothered me? Maybe it was the slightly douchey aura he radiated…
Sangha: Such a catchy hook! Not sure if I like Kim Yong Han though, his rap is sort of generic and I feel like he’s really reliant on his visuals. And wow, what an ego.
Moon Chang Yeol + An Se Hee
Anna: It seems they didn’t collaborate well before stage, and even I could tell they didn’t collaborate well on stage. Moon Chang Yeol receives some critique for standing very still throughout the performance.
Ranya: Miryo’s face during the girl’s shaky rapping said it all. Priceless.
Sangha: this was so cringeworthy to watch. And my god, hearing what Moon Chang Yeol went through (I think he said he witnessed his tutor sexually assault someone when he was young…) I feel kinda sorry for him.
Choi Dae Young + Kim Jung Eun
Anna: Choi Dae Young seems to be selling out his partner. Not very nice. I could tell she maybe wasn’t super good, but he wasn’t either so that kind of behavior only served to make him look worse.
Ranya: None of them were on top, but that behaviour won’t really help you get farther boy. She looked ready to hit him!
Sangha: Rude. He wasn’t even all that good, either.
Lee Hoon Il (Silryuk)* + ?
Anna: Apparently Silryuk has made a name for himself already. Or at least he used to be a pretty big deal in the underground some 5-6 years ago, says my husband that suddenly came to see what I was watching. Looks like he’s already shared a stage with Joosuc too. This is the kind of rapper I had expected to see join the big names on the show, but with a public audition like this there is always the subject of pride.
Ranya: Watching from his audition they apparently censor korean curse words, but not english ones? The judges faces of recognition when he walked in was mildly amusing, he didn’t really do it for me, the beginning was a bit choppy and it might have improved by the end…I’m “meh”.
Sangha: Favoritism at play? I was really hoping that they would judge fairly but this pick was full of favoritism. He made a huge mistake during the first round, and if it was an amateur rapper he’d probably not even make it to second round.
One Hundred + ?
Anna: One Hundred seem like a lot of fun. Are they comedians or rappers first, I wonder?
Ranya: If any of you have watched Korean television or the occasional K-Pop MV, you will recognize the guy from One Hundred with the long hair, Kim Kyung Jin. He appears in so many. music videos. like. how. I felt sorry for the other guy who had to disappear in the shadow of these gag-men, but thank you for not letting them pass further, I would not have taken them seriously at all.
Sangha: One Hundred proved to be a much appreciated comic relief. I feel like they’re getting a lot of beef from hip-hop fans but as a huge fan of Kim Kyung Jin I’m not complaining, hah. But thank god they didn’t make it, or I’d been questioning the show’s credibility.
Song Song Min* + Lee Byoung Ryong*
Anna: Lee Byoung Ryong used to be a member of 45RPM? 45RPM look very embarrassed at him being there. I wish I knew more Korean (or hiphop history) to tell why he’s no longer a part of the group.
Ranya: One, can I be the first one to point out what is exactly the point of having a random giant bodyguard looking man in the background for? Are they expecting fights to break out? Moving on. I wish I knew the story behind them too, 45RPM were quickly hiding their faces and explained that he was an old friend of theirs? Maybe the fallout happened before they got signed onto YG, because I’ve only ever heard of the two…
Song Song Min was a delight to watch! I was glad both of them got picked! (awh don’t cry~) Even though the “we hate got no shit” part made no sense.
Sangha: I like this Song Rapper guy a lot! And ah, typical audition program sobstories. I don’t understand why 45RPM acted (?) so embarrassed though, it seemed too exaggerated… It sounds like they had a bit of a fight (one member hit Lee Byong Ryong, Lee Byong Ryong decided to leave) and Lee Byoung Ryong left them really soon in their career as 45RPM.
Toy Brown* + ?
Anna: Both Korean and English, she’s doing it very well. The panel challenges her to rap some more in Korean and they all seem fairly impressed.
Ranya: Wow, I’m taking it that Korean is not her first language? She surely impressed with her skills to rap in it though, something that’s hard even for some native speakers. She initially came off as wanting to be more of a singer so I was worried her rapping would be a bit lackluster.
Sangha: Toy Brown was impressive! Her Korean is so good. I want to hear her sing some time, too.
Kim Tae Kyoon (TakeOne)* + ?
Anna: I was vaguely familiar with his name before this, so of course the judges recognize him too. He seem to deserve his good reputation.
Ranya: TakeOne is signed with Grandline, isn’t he? I’ve seen him perform with Geeks and Giriboy, and I’m pretty sure I have his mixtape floating around somewhere on my harddrive. He looks genuinely happy for this opportunity.
Edit: Yup, as I thought! He was even one of the rappers on the track “Grandline Cypher” with Geeks and Crucial Star. Check him out!
Sangha: First time listening to TakeOne and I liked his rap a lot!
Ko Young Bin* + ?
Anna: Those are some crazy beatboxing skills from Ko Young Bin! Double K points out that it’s a rap audition, but he seemed to handle the rap fairly well to me anyway.
Sangha: that was some insane beatboxing, wow. His rapping, on the other hand, was lackluster, not sure how far he’ll go with that.
Ranya: Those were some skills! I think it would be fun to have a beatboxer on the show, even though this is about rappers.
Bluechan + ?
Anna: I wasn’t familiar with Bluechan from before, but it’s clear that just because you’ve released a single or two it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got what it takes to make it anywhere. He seems very disappointed though.
Ranya: Did the guy who was with Bluechan pass? They showed him rapping after and I liked him better.
Seo Young Ho* + Kim Min Ha*
Sangha: two contestants who were edited out. Mnet and its editing. Brutal. I hope they showed a bit of their performance too since they both made it, but I guess we’ll be seeing them again so it’s okay.
Ranya: Looks like he did make it! yay.
Lee Min Young + Lee Haeri
Anna: So apparently Lee Min Young is a gugak singer whereas Lee Haeri is the leader of rookie girl group MaskOT. I paused to read up on Lee Haeri and it turns out she’s quite the talent. MaskOT released their first single in February this year and have been slated to become the next top idol group, but for some reason they have yet to make their “official” debut. Lee Haeri apparently was one of the top 2% high school students in New Zealand, entered university at age 16 and has been active both as a model and musical actress. As if that wasn’t enough she also used to be the vocalist of some rock band, and entered the MBC Campus Song Festival with a song of her own though I failed to find out any details. And she’s still only 18 (turning 19 next month). Lee Min Young was shown rushing off in tears, but I couldn’t see what happened to Lee Haeri. I suspect she didn’t make it either, but I really would’ve wanted to see more of her.
Sangha: this stage was so cute with the skit and all! Their raps were shaky though. Lee Haeri sounded like such a typical idol rapper.
Ranya: Poor Lee Min Young looked like she really wanted this, work harder and keep going girl! The judges’ slightly uncomfortable faces during that number were hilarious, even though the opening skit was cute, it was a bit…gimmicky and ninth grade gag-show-y.
Park Sun Hee + ?
Anna: Park Sun Hee appears to have received voice coaching from her friend Ji Se Hee, that made it to the top 4 in Voice Korea? I find it a bit weird that they only showed her singing though. Did she not rap at all?
Sangha: I think they said that she’s originally a vocal trainer. Ji Se Hee said that she was a better rapper than a singer but it didn’t seem like the case. (they did show a bit of her rapping before the Ji Se Hee scene!)
Anna: Ah, there you go! I wonder if it’s just me or if the editing could’ve used some more work. Hopefully things will improve when it gets started for real..
Ranya: She had a nice voice, but like Double K probably said, this isn’t a singing show.
Kim Gi Chul (Gamja)* + Kim Eun Young (Cheeta)*
Anna: Gamja appears to also be a name already familiar to the judges through Rimi & Gamja. Did that girl just say “I’m a killer like Hitler”? The on screen lyrics say “I’m a killer um like a hitter” but that’s not what I’m hearing..
Sangha: Another more well-known name? Gamja was awesome. I also really like this Cheeta girl, so much swagger.
Ranya: Another Grandline rapper! I absolutely adore Rimi and I wouldn’t have minded seeing her on this show (it could use more badass females!), Now Rimi & Gamja’s songs are usually a bit…special (as evidenced by the short clip of their MV that they showed). It’s such a delight to watch these two together! Cheeta has great flow, style and a really unique voice. Miryo looked absolutely delighted by her presence, they both deserved to advance, really.
Seo Sung Jo (Illtong)* & Kwon Hyuk Woo*
Anna: It looks like Illtong is a friend of Double K. Seeing him cry in the cut before the two got to show their skills I had assumed that he’d be eliminated. There seems to be some sort of sad story involved, and after Illtong is told he moves on Kwon Hyuk Woo asked to share his sad story too.
Sangha: wow these personal stories are on a whole different level from the usual sobstories I’m used to on audition programs. Illtong used to work for a loan shark office (Miryo even called him a “real gangster”) and he promised his girlfriend that he’d quit and try to pursue hip-hop again. That’s so intense. Kwon Hyun Woo’s story was the saddest for me though, and I really liked his rap too, so I’m hoping that he gets far.
Ranya: I feel like I’ve heard the name Illtong before? Maybe I should do some research. Wow, both of them seemed to have gone through a lot, I wonder what Kwon Hyun Woo’s story was about?
Freestyle Rap Battle
Anna: Four guys were called back and had to engage in a freestyle battle. Seems like they’d been waiting for a long time, but I didn’t catch that was an option while people were getting told they made it or had to get out. Looks like Bluechan had to find himself eliminated again.
Sangha: Not happy that Choi Dae Young made it, I don’t like him at all. And I really liked Park Jong Su’s rap when he was dissing Bluechan, I wish he’d made it instead!
Ranya: The only one making an impression on me from these four was the guy that went up against Bluechan, I liked his confidence and style. Looks like he passed too.
Anna: I realized I’d gotten the premises of the show wrong, expecting things to start out I Am A Singer style right away with the rookie rappers already picked. I would’ve actually preferred for the show to get started right away, but that may be because I’m a bit impatient when it comes to hiphop. And I found that the editing made it a bit difficult to follow, but maybe it was as simple as whoever didn’t get a “you’re out” or “you’re in” shown on screen is out? They could’ve done a better job showing who’s who between cuts, but perhaps this was done to save embarrassment for those that didn’t make it.
Ranya: I, too thought that the stages would start right away, judging from the promo clips that were released of this show. The format of having an ep with auditions didn’t bother me though, I found it all very entertaining, but at the same time I’m relieved They wouldn’t drag it out for several episodes. The idea of putting rookie rappers also adds a whole new dimension to this show, because now I’m not only taking in the performances from Hiphop artists I’m familiar with, I’m also getting to judge a whole new set of talent. I think that as a hiphop fan, I’ll be able to enjoy this show, I hope they bring in other well known rappers into it too. I also love that all the rappers they brought in differs in style, so it’s not only one direction of the genre that we’re hearing.
Anna: I also realized that it’s nowhere near as easy to judge hiphop as other kinds of music without really knowing Korean, since it’s so much more than just having a good flow and making an entertaining delivery. This make me wonder if there really is any point in me trying to get into Korean hiphop again. I had this idea that I stopped listening to Korean hiphop same time as I took a hiatus in all of my Korean music listening, but considering that I haven’t really been listening to any hiphop at all since, maybe it was just a teenage phase for me? I still love those old albums though. Maybe I should just wait and see. With a bit of luck I’ll feel differently once the show gets started for real.
Sangha: I can see where you’re coming from, Anna. I think that also explains why Korean hip-hop hasn’t been as popular as Korean indie to international fans, while it’s definitely more popular in Korea than the indie scene (until few years ago, anyway). As someone who doesn’t feel so strongly about hip-hop, it was an enjoyable watch for me as I had nothing to be really pissed off about. I guess as an outsider to the culture and the music scene it’s a lot easier for me to just sit back and enjoy the show for what it is, as opposed to hip-hop fans who might find the show disappointing. I quite like the overall atmosphere of the show, too. I’m glad they didn’t spend so much time with the first two rounds, because I really want to see what the artists do with the performances, and which rapper picks which contestants.