Hip-hop is enjoying its highest glory days in the current music world. On broadcast days of shows like “Show Me The Money”, “Unpretty Rapstar”, hip-hop singers sweep off the portal sites keyword rankings and their names stay high on the music charts. As the number of artists turning naturally to hip-hop is growing, a fast reversal in quality that is growing bigger is happening. As we can talk about a “Korean hip-hop renaissance”, the “Meeting Hip-hop” corner will present you various musicians that lead the over and underground scene.
t/n: this is an on-going series.
Rapper Outsider is a loner. I’m not talking about the “Loner”, his representative song. In real life too, because of his outstanding flow in the fast rap category, there’s no loner who can be compared in the past and in the present. And this path of his created his own “Pride” and others’ “Prejudice”. It is not a coincidence that his album released after 4 years and 4 months is titled “Pride and Prejudice.”
About “pride”, Outsider explained first that “it’s because the thought “there’s no one else” can carry two extreme feelings: “I’m alone. I’m a loner” and “I’m the best”. I combined these two feelings. While I was making this album, I thought that if there’s any prejudice about me, I must get rid of it, if the thought “I’m alone” is there, I must get rid of it too, but I can develop my music as I keep doing activities.” Then he added, “I wanted to get rid of my pride and be strong to create the music I wanted with other people. I didn’t want to fall into mannerism or have so much pride that it would make me forget the emotion about the people I’m with. Rap, hip-hop, music, they’re about reflecting on your own life, so I think music can grow through the respect and the admiration you have for people. Just by releasing this album, I felt that I wasn’t alone, despite the fact I used to think I was a loner. I wanted to reflect how grateful I am for the people by my side.” So the meaning of pride here was the realization that he wasn’t all by himself despite what he used to think.
It was the same for “prejudice”. It was about “people”. In the past 4 years and 4 months (nearly since his debut until now), Outsider revealed that he went through rough times. “Meanwhile, I had to deal with lawsuits and a diss battle. After I went to “Show Me The Money 2”, I received 200,000 won for my final stage and I got eliminated because I ranked the lowest. I think it turned out this way because I was in an unexpected position and environment, I couldn’t adapt to life changes and I was in a state of confusion.” He then added, “I think this maladjustment showed in my music and my performance on stage. And the pain and trauma it gave me grew bigger as this confusion lasted longer. There was also the lawsuit and I often wanted to hide and I couldn’t show properly what I wanted to show because of this limited environment. It was about taking risks again about the music I had been doing for more than 10 years. In the midst of carrying such trauma that wasn’t resolved, I realized the gaze people had on me had changed and they had prejudice against me.”
Although he’s smiling while telling his story, Outsider confessed the stress he felt at that time. “For ten years, I had really been free of bad comments. However, after “SMTM” and the lawsuit, I sometimes wondered if I had really committed a crime. To be honest, I wanted to explain, but I thought it would make me look very lame and if I made only good music, there would be no need for me to. The reactions of a minority grew bigger and I got the certainty that it formed the public opinion. When I saw this, I thought to myself “I must definitely change this prejudice no matter what. I didn’t commit any crime. I must live at least a life where I’m simply judged in a positive or a negative way only through my music. If I hadn’t confronted this trauma and didn’t get heal, I wouldn’t have been able to make music. I felt like my music would have been meaningless otherwise.”
The track that reflects the most the resolution of this trauma is “20”. Here, the 20 symbolizes the 200,000 won Outsider received for his final performance on “SMTM2”. ” ’20’ is the most important track of this album. It’s not that I’m trying to justify myself or proving myself. I wanted to be evaluate on my style in the proper way. And I worked while worrying about various things. While I was working on “20”, I wrote the lyrics all over again 9 times. The first time, it really felt like I was justifying myself, the second time, it’s felt like I was trying to prove myself, then it felt like I was pleading my cause to get sympathy, so I wrote the lyrics all over again… Eventually, I managed to create “20”. This 20 became more and more familiar. That’s when I knew. That the pain and the trauma tied me down even more to the point I wanted to hide, that I could overcome and face them,” he said about the now resolved pain and trauma he experienced.
We also heard an interesting story while he was telling us about “20”. Outsider confessed his honest feeling and personal comment about the “heartburn” he got from this “SMTM2” performance that hurt him so deeply. “Of course, I wasn’t satisfied about my performance. And I was in confusion. I started filming right after being discharged from the army, and it started airing while I was in the middle of a lawsuit. Even worse, the first offer I had was to a part of the jury at first. As they suddenly changed the system and put me in the competition too, I was finding myself in a situation where I had to bring it on because it would be humiliating to lose if I were put against other contestants. However, I overlooked the past 2 years. The attitude of the people accepting hip-hop had changed. The music style was changing too. I was determined to show a lot of things with my own style. I think I showed performances and the image of a mainstream singer more than being a rapper. Managing to create something good by mixing several things, it’s innovation. If not, there’s no in between. Theses were risky performances,” he said. “What’s weird is that it was definitely not my day. A back dancer got hurt after the rehearsal, my necklace snapped 5 times. I just had a bad feeling about the whole thing, and this was how it turned out. I don’t know why it happened. I think I felt this way because I learned taekwondo when I was a kid. The day’s theme was “overcoming the trauma that tortured me”, but this is actually what became my trauma,” he said, smiling.
With an album filled with “pride” and “prejudice”, there are 14 tracks, instrumentals included. “I definitely wanted to release a full album. When a musician releases a full album, the details and the impact turn out big. And I couldn’t talk about pride and prejudice separately,” he revealed.
It is rare to see a 14-track full album in the current dying music market these days, but the pressure is inevitable because he’s Outsider. His lyrics are nearly twice the amount of others. About that, Outsider revealed that the importance of lyrics wasn’t a problem because “Until my third full album, I felt like I had to fill the songs with no intermission. However, I filled this album with what I wanted to say, so everything came together naturally.”
The downside of rapping fast is the lack of identified rhymes and flow. “Some people say that indeed, and it’s true that it’s my weakness,” he said, frankly acknowledging it. “Of course, it’s not that I don’t care about the rhymes or my flow, but I used to think that my speed or my rapping skills would cover that, so it seemed that I was relatively lacking in these areas. However, once I came back from the army, this scene had many good rappers. I even thought that I was too complacent. What I want to say is that I was the first fast rapper to become popular in Korea, so my name became a byword, but I’m not the peak or the limit of fast rapping. When you listen to the rappers overseas being able to rap fast and bring out emotions while matching the rhymes and flow, you can feel how this field has potential to grow even more. And this is what I want to show,” he said with determination.
Facing directly his “pride and prejudice” and overcoming his trauma, Outsider is ambitious. And it’s not only about making music. Performances, a tour, writing his own book of essays and novel, he’s planning activities in various fields.
“Tymee is doing well, so I’m planning a tour and I’m planning to be prolific this year. I want to show the various sides of a rapper. The book of essays I have been working on will be released on April 17th and I will release a novel next. I will make you hear words that I couldn’t say just through lyrics and music,” he explained about his hectic plans.
As a conclusion, “Like a rookie singer, I want to start my new musician life through many activities. I want to be free from the gaze the world has on me. This album isn’t about justifying myself or proving myself. It is filled with music I want to hear from myself, the music I want to listen to. I wanted this album to express my life and my attitude. As for the public response, even if it can’t be said it was crazy before, I’ll be happy if people say things like “he’s an artist whose prime days aren’t gone and he just keeps going”,” he said about the beginning of his new life.
(Additionally, Outside is as eloquent as his rap flow is fast. Various topics were discussed during the interview, so taking their importance into consideration, the interview was mostly about the core of Outsider’s current situation. So because of that, there were some things that weren’t that much clarified. For instance: what he thinks of Tymee who is a singer of his agency, his current relation with MC Sniper, the marriage story with his wife, why he always has women doing featurings on his songs… We hope you will take this aspect into consideration.)
Donga via Nate
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com