Jinusean! A comeback after 11 years! And we’re doing an interview! Is this a windfall?
션 Are you the generation that grew up listening to Jinusean?
Of course. I also enjoy wearing your clothing brand MF.
Jinu It was the same with the music director of “Tell Me One More Time”. While preparing this comeback, we got many opportunities to work with people who grew up listening to Jinusean’s music, so the first time we met, they were all “oh my god, what to do!”. It was really fun. (smile)
Was “ToToGa”, Infinite Challenge special episode, this comeback trigger?
Sean Personally, I had been preparing for the past ten years because I wanted to do music. However, I was thinking “it’s time to let go of Jinusean”. It was right before “ToToGa”. That’s why when “Infinite Challenge” offered me to be a part of it, I/they didn’t ask Jinu and I did it on my own. However, the issue with people who were planning to do it but withdrew in the end came up and the show couldn’t go on, so the producers asked me for a retake and they said it would be nice if the two of us were here. Since I wanted to do it, I’m the one who convinced Jinu.
Jinu After our 4th album, I started doing company work, but not going back on stage was something I couldn’t imagine. Since BIGBANG debuted, I also worked on music videos, I handled the overseas work like the YG Japan setting. I was actually quite happy to work for my hoobaes and see the overall picture. Although I wasn’t on stage, I was the one who helped making things like this happen and I was satisfied. However, I thought at some point that it’d be fun. I was sorry for Sean and I thought we’d get to do things properly if it was with “Infinite Challenge”. Sometimes, when Sean and I went to a concert, I thought to myself “if it had been me here, I would have done something better”. “ToToGa” was the opportunity to make a comeback, but since we debuted in 1997, there are many things to establish to make Jinusean’s music known.
I wondered if “ToToGa” wasn’t a temporary thing.
Jinu Going back on stage after being so caught up into my working life was exciting and refreshing and made me feel nervous too. I felt multiple emotions at the same time. Like wow, I want to do more, it gave me this kind of feeling.
Sean After that, we did a few more performances and I don’t know if it was because my mind was free, but our performances became better than our performances from the past. The’re a big possibility that we’ll be done with music when we no longer enjoy it. Right now, we’re back in the “enjoy” mode.
11 years ago, your 4th full album “Norabose” was about partying and having fun. It’s still the same thing today.
Jinu We want our music to be analyzed and enjoyed as entertainment. I’m talking about the positive aspect of music.
Is it a prejudice to think that hip-hop must be somehow a negative or critical voice?
Sean I think there can be a prejudice indeed. For Black people, hip-hop was about their lives, so it was about the ghetto life or the social irregularities. Our lives are different. So, singing about things of our own lives is hip-hop too. Of course, it can be about rebelling or resisting, but I think it’s not the only thing hip-hop is about.
Jinu The strong point about hip-hop is that there’s no mold. You can’t say that our song “Phone Number” isn’t hip-hop because it’s about seducing a woman.
When you released your 4th full album, you said “doing hip-hop in our 30’s isn’t common”. You’re now hip-hop musicians around their 40’s, so I’m anticipating to hear what you’ll talk about, what you’ll bring on.
Sean Clearly, there are things we have to worry about. When we were in our 20’s, songs like “No More” were a way for us to frown at our society irregularities. Back then, it was as if we were denouncing things like this and we were trying to fix them. However, I realized as time went by that acting like this fixed nothing. I think the world can change little by little if I change myself first.
Jinu Still, for our digital single “Tell Me One More Time”, Tablo wrote the lyrics and PK arranged the melody. It’s the “new disco” genre. It’s a song to let people know in a bit more mainstream way rather than a hip-hop way that Jinusean is back. It’s a song that anyone can listen to, nod their head to and sing along.
Was the popular/mainstream feeling your priority?
Sean There are times when something that wasn’t meticulously planned still goes smoothly. This was the case here. From working on the song, recording it, filming the music video, it was the fastest project ever done in all YG history.
The YG famous for being complicated?
Jinu YG isn’t a company that moves according to an album release date set in advance. Quality is the priority. They were surprised by how fast we worked. We’re also thankful and surprised that so many of our colleagues like Yoo Jae Suk, Kim Hyun Jung, Yang Dong Geun accepted to make a cameo in our music video.
Sean Without thinking “we must make it mainstream”, the song came out and it was really great. For our 5th album, I think we must draw an overall picture while thinking things over a little bit more.
The Jinusean best-selling album was sold at 700,000 copies.
Sean Probably something like that. It was when we released our 1st album. It was the hip-hop album that got the biggest sales.
Aren’t you uncomfortable with the current digital market?
Jinu The good thing is that someone can find and listen easily to the music they enjoy, but I think the downside is that the charts can be turned over way too easily. Back in the day, being number 1 for a quarter of a day made no sense.
How did your entourage react to Jinusean’s comeback?
Sean When the decision to make our album was made, Epik High told us “we’re very thankful that you release something”. They’re in their mid-30’s, so it seems that they have worries like “until when will we be able to make music?”. They said that us starting doing activities again meant that our hoobaes music life got extended by 10 years and they were thankful for that.
Is your fate to carry on the duty of being a “life extension icon” as well as being hip-hop pioneers?
Sean Listening to them, I thought to myself “so this is also our share”. Should we open the way of being able to do activities a little bit longer?
Jinu Where do you see 40-year old people on the hip-hop scene? It makes no sense. Come to think of it, I think I told myself that I was really old after we released our 4th full album. That’s probably why I felt a sense of rejection towards music activities sometimes.
The concept of today’s photo shoot was “youth”. Do you still think of yourself as young?
Sean Of course. I’m in the middle of my youth. That’s what I believe (smile).
Is youth proportional to one’s age?
Sean No. I think it’s proportional to how passionate you are. If you have no passion despite being a young age, it will be hard to express youth. If you take on challenges and live passionately despite being over 60, isn’t it what youth is about?
Jinu Mindset is important. A mindset with freedom, energy and to take on challenges without being conventional! Always looking for something new and… how to say it? Rejecting to turn into an “old geezer”?
Even if you feel young in your head, all things yield to stamina.
Sean Hm… To be honest, I’m an athlete (smile). I run 10km every day, I also participate to triathlon competitions. I can even run 20 marathons a year, so I’m confident that I don’t fall behind when it comes to stamina.
Jinu For two years, I played golf even more than a pro player. However, I was in the golf cart a lot, so it didn’t help my stamina at all (smiles). I’m just kidding. I’m not too bad.
Sean That’s why I stride around the stage a little bit more. I want people to see the overall picture and think “Jinusean still looks good”.
Jinusean’s music is…
Jinu When you watch a movie, there’s a soundtrack, right? I hope our music will be a life’s soundtrack. Our mission is a success if our music becomes a support that makes life a little bit more exciting and enjoyable.
Sean The music that you hear when you enjoy a movie is Jinusean’s music.
t/n: if you want to find out more about Sean and how he was one of Korea hip-hop pioneers with Yang Hyun Suk, you can check the early entries of Choi Seung Min’s dance history.
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com