Rapper E-Sens is back with the single album “I’m Good”. The single was released on March 27th and we met with E-Sens afterward in a café in Nonhyun-dong. After the fire that spread on the hip-hop scene last year, it was the first time that E-Sens talked to the media.
[t/n: My intention was to translate just the answers, but it turns out that it meant translating 98% of the interview anyway. But I have summarized non-answers here and there.]
“When Jinbo-hyung came to me with the beat the first time, I thought “I must definitely do this one”. I worked for 3 weeks, I wrote the lyrics over and over again many times because if I wanted the lyrics to match “I’m Good”, I really had to be in a “good” state of mind and that wasn’t the case. There were many people worrying about me. And of course, there were those who said things like “what can this lazy guy do? like how many featurings?”. My heart wasn’t at ease because of these things. However, there was a day when I was working and I felt like I was suffocating, so I went outside and I enjoyed the cool air before going back inside and I was in a really good mood. “Before, the thing I wanted to do the most for a job was to be working just like this in my studio. And this is what I’m doing right now.” This is the realization I had. And that’s when I completed the lyrics. This happened the day before the recording. To be honest, six songs could have been made if you look just at the amount of lyrics I wrote. It’s my first time taking so much time to write a song (laugh). I had “I’m Good” spinning 1600 times while I was working on it. “
A lot of things happen to E-Sens last year. He left Amoeba Culture, Supreme Team officially disbanded. He also stood in the middle of the “diss fever” that shook the hip-hop scene. [omitted part] “To be honest, if people know me, even if it’s just a little, they wouldn’t have thought I’d use this way to release a song. And I hated that (laugh). It seemed very obvious. Of course, I felt burdened. People seemed to expect my ideal. Music isn’t a game. You can’t approach it only with the “I must meet the public’s expectations” mindset. You also have to burn your condensed emotion.”
“Beasts and Natives”, a new culture in the making
E-Sens released his new single through the website “Beasts and Natives”. Hip-hop fans were as curious about his song as they were curious about this website with this crude/strange name. Some people even assumed that it was a label created by E-Sens. “Beasts and Natives isn’t the name of a label like you think it is. It’s a bit greasy for a name, but I think you can call it a culture agency. It’s a movement creating a new culture. Artists from different fields get together and they experiment. Regardless of the fact that it could be someone who raps, who paints/draws, who writes, who makes videos, their intention is to bring together various artists.”
Beats and Natives was born from the idea of the need to resolve the deprivation of culture as in “even if people want to enjoy it, there’s nothing for them to enjoy”. “I hate the word “healing”. I hate the nuance of “soothing” those who studied late at night all the time when they were young, then they went college, desperately built a spectrum, struggled to get a job and live as they pay back their loan. Making something to bring happiness to people isn’t that much of a big deal. It’s enough if we can create things people can be interested in and enjoy. I hope Beats and Natives could play this role. If you’re interested, contact them (laugh)”.
E-Sens got interested in “Beasts and Natives” because he doesn’t care only about rap, but he’s also interested in humanity and art. “I want to change the sacred aspect of the word “art” because art is definitely not something disconnected from reality. Each form of art understands what being human is, its purpose is to restore the human nature. You know how when someone is in an empty place, this person has this feeling of absence. This is exactly how I feel. When I make music, I don’t hide my loner/nerd personality. I want it to be recognized and I want to understand what others are lacking. I think people can relate to things this way.”
E-Sens talked about his image the media shed light on when he was doing TV activities at his best, an image he was unfamiliar with. “It seemed that people who listened to my song and watched my stage thought of me in a better way than my real image. After “Poison” was released, this awareness reached its peak. I realized that I had become the “true rapper” who hated money and only pursued his dream. However, this isn’t who I am. I like money, I like drinking alcohol, I want to own a nice car. I don’t want hide this kind of desire. If I had wanted to use this image, I could have. However, I think that worrying about the expectations the public may have isn’t what underground is about. Looking at people thinking “they will buy my song” isn’t the way to go. I have this story I must tell and if I run with it in the way it should be done, this is exactly the underground spirit. Turning your back to the media and rejecting the established order isn’t being underground. Accordig to this definition, I am underground (laugh)”.
His plan for his first full-length album “The Anecdote”
E-Sens plans to release his first full album by the end of the year. It will be an album that tell his own stories. The album’s title is already decided. It’s “The Anecdote”. “Anecdote is the project for my first full album. If people who don’t know me listen to this album from the first track to the last one, they will be able to know who I am. It’s an album about stories about my life from when I was 1 year-old up to two years ago. It’s like a long diary, like a spirit ball (laugh). Of course, I will keep releasing singles before the album. As just one song, “I’m Good” isn’t perfect. I want to release singles about the things I feel every now and then. I’m thinking of releasing a song for free in a month. There will be other songs after that one. Of course, those songs have nothing to do with “Anecdote”. “I’m Good” won’t be a part of the album “Anecdote”. There will be absolutely no info about “Anecdote” until its release. But speaking like this will probably create much expectation for you, so I feel like I put myself into a trap (laugh).”
[The final part is more about him and what’s going on in his life.]
– What is hip-hop to you?
I lost my father when I was in my 4th year of elementary school. I was always looking for “that grown-up man’s experience” and hip-hop filled that void. I fell for hip-hop in my first year of high school. I had my earphones on and I wrote lyrics every day. It was the first time of my life that I enjoyed doing something. I left high school then I went back because of hip-hop. I thought that if I wanted to talk about Korea through my rap, I should study and learn about our country and about the lives of other people.”
– When people talk about E-Sens, they praise your flow for being so unique that many people would remember it.
I’m thankful. This kind of feedback is my driving force. To be honest, the thing I needed the most was people’s feedback. As you know, I wasn’t able to have it for two years. And there was the song “Poison”. I realized that there would be no lyrics if there was no feedback. I know for sure I have my own territory. But I don’t think this territory is an impenetrable fortress.
– What’s your take on the critics saying you don’t care about rhymes.
I can’t acknowledge that. To those who are good at writing lyrics with rhyme, please read carefully my lyrics, see if there are parts with no rhyme. I’m pretty sure there won’t be that many people who revise their lyrics as much as I do when I’m writing. I can change the exact same lyrics more than ten times, just because I want it to be good when you listen to it.
– It seems that you studied a lot in order to write your lyrics. Did you read many books?
When you write lyrics, there are moments when you’re short of words. In moments like this, I randomly pick five or six books. Then, I open them anywhere and I just read at random as if to eat the words. This is brainstorming. I’m like a [word] omnivore (laugh).
– Is there a possibility of a reunion with Simon D?
We talked, but I don’t think it will happen. I told him “let’s not think about you or me as people achieving something”. Right now, I have no intention to think about Supreme Team. However, I’ve known Kiseok-hyung for more than ten years. I’m pretty sure we’ll become the uncles of each other’s sons.
Original article: topclass