Rapper J’Kyun who showed witty music on Mnet’s “Show Me The Money 2”. Since his underground activities days, he’s been called “the hip-hop prince” because of his good looks and outstanding rapping skills. He was in “Show Me The Money” and his performances conveyed his sincerity through music with songs like “Heaven” dedicated to his mother, “Bad Boy” which expressed his own emotions and he surprised once again the viewers. He said this made him aware of the “J’Kyun’s music” the audience wants from him, how it would clearly influence his future. Cuvism met J’Kyun. Let’s hear about his feelings and his future goals.
“Hip-hop Prince” J’Kyun
Hello. Please introduce yourself.
Hello. As you probably know, this is the prince of the hip-hop world (laughs), I’m J’Kyun. Nice to meet you.
“Show Me The Money 2” ended recently. How have you been?
I’ve been a bit busy since the end of the show. I shot Mnet “Beatles Code”. I performed at a live show called Just Jam that Swings organized. And I’m working on a single.
I think you became even more popular after “SMTM 2”. Do you feel it?
Definitely. I can see how powerful medias can be. I’ve been doing music for a long time, but I had never experienced something like this. I think a lot of people recognize me now.
I’m curious to hear about how you ended up filming “Show Me The Money”.
The show producers had approached me for season 1, but I had rejected their offer. Still, considering how they contacted me because it’s interesting for them to bring talented people, I thought to myself that if I did it, I’d have a lot to lose. However, I needed a stage, so I decided to do it once and get myself known. Underground rappers around me asked if it wasn’t because I was too desperate to make it. To be honest, it’s also true. I don’t deny it.
You said you refused to join season 1, so what made you decide to join season 2?
I was about at a crossroad because I was about to release an album at that time. Honestly, I always kept their offer in the back of my mind. That’s why I thought I should definitely do Season 2 if it were to happen.
You left a big impression as someone overflowing with confidence the first time. What were you inspiring to at that time?
I was really joking. I was immature. That’s because I was thinking “still, aren’t I the best anyway?”. However, when I actually did it, I wasn’t the best. That’s why I was really embarrassed. I think this aspect was higlighted during broadcast. I was charactarized as J’Kyun, the flirty guy, the guy who jokes around and doesn’t take this seriously.
You seemed close to EXID’s LE. Did you already know her?
Yes. We became close in the past while doing activities on the underground scene. We did a lot of concerts.
When you first appeared, the title “hip-hop prince” was attached to your name. When did this start?
When I was releasing a single as a project, I wrote my self-introduction as well as the song presentation, and I wrote “J’Kyun, the hip-hop prince” as a joke. It was really meant to be funny. (laughs) It made no sense, but some people actually took it seriously and thought it was fun. That’s why I kept using it.
What do you think of the fact the “hip-hop prince” nickame was used during the broadcast.
I don’t know. I think more than 50% of the viewers probably kept it in mind as something lame. (laughs) Still, since they remembered it, I’m thankful this nickname got stuck in people’s minds. Like for Mad Clown, it was “the Son Suk Hee of hip-hop”. (laughs)
You dedicated “Heaven”, your song for the first round, to your mother. You said you definitely wanted to sing this song during the show. What was going on in your mind before you get on stage?
It’s something that belongs to the way I behave. It’s something I thought since my mom was gone for nothing. I thought to myself “me too, I don’t know if I’ll die or if I’ll stay alive tomorrow”. It’s something very common to say. “Live as if today were your last”. Honestly, it’s hard to live like this, but since I experienced it, it’s engraved in my mind. I think I went on stage thinking that this is what I wanted do as if it would be the last time ever as I was telling myself “when will I be able to go back on stage?”.
You won first place with this song. It might have been because you conveyed your sincerity. How did you feel?
It was really truly unexpected. I still don’t know how I managed to rank first. Especially after seeing Baechigi’s stage. I thought I’d be eliminated.
What did you think once the performance was over?
I thought “ah, good job!”. I did what I had dreamed of. Singing on stage for my mom, having people seeing this and telling them “don’t forget about my/your mother”. It was a mother’s song I wanted to send to people. “I’m living my dream, being in the picture I drew”. I think many feelings overlapped. In the meantime, Qwala got eliminated, that was really heavy on my heart. I think I cried a lot when I thought about him because I was very sorry.
After the 1st round, you were accepted into the D.O crew. Before that, Lee Hyun Do had said about you “J’Kyun is just not my style”. How did you two get along?
I think Hyun Do-hyung is a really cool guy. When he likes you, his passion is burning. If he doesn’t like you, he will say “he isn’t my style?”. From the moment I joined the D.O crew, he welcomed me with open arms. That’s why I was surprised. He even gave me the matching t-shirt to celebrate the fact I joined the team. His style is completely different from Meta-hyung
Your comment about how “Show Me The Money” made you experience everything you could have experience was memorable. What were you feeling at that time?
It was because I had really experienced everything. Ranking first place, being eliminated, being scolded, being criticized.
So that might have been the reason, but you were very different, starting from your gaze, during your “Bad Boy” performance during the 4th round. Whad did this performance represent for you?
To be honest, I was quite surprised by the reactions I got after this performance. It was also the case when I ranked first with “Heaven” during the 1st round, but I think I couldn’t really grasp the feel going on. It was really unexpected that “Bad Boy” got good reactions. I was very thankful that people enjoyed this image of me. I think this performance can be a bit more of a guide line for me about the blueprint I want to design in the future.
You poured your heart into the lyrics of “Bad Boy”. How was the working process?
I worried a lot. Rappers usually write their own lyrics, so it’s exactly like writing a text. Because I must be in a lyricist mindset, I really thought about the sentences and about the context.
It was also available for free download afterward.
I was afraid selling it would give people the “I must make money” impression. I let people get it for free.
“Bad Boy” is a BIGBANG song. Why did you choose to use this song?
One of the basic rules of “Show Me The Money” is to reinterpret a song. It often happens that you don’t really know a song because it’s not popular. I thought this song was a good match. I like BIGBANG’s outlook on the world and their style.
A video was broadcast during your performance. Where did you get this idea?
I want to use memories I had created. Anyone has their photo albums. I wanted to have something similar.
Recently, we talked with Mad Clown. He said he liked your rapping style. So I’m curious to hear which rapping style you like.
I like the rapping style like Swings has. He has a sense of groove that I can’t follow.
What do you think of your own rapping style?
I like rapping with witty lyrics. Instead of being serious, I’d rather joke around. When you look at US shows, their jokes don’t match the Korean taste. I’m always trying to add wittiness into what I do.
What’s your working style?
I write a lot of memos. I look for stories in a word, or I think about the emotions I feel. When I write my diary, if I think “I don’t know why this made me mad like this”, I use this emotion as a theme. I think it comes through a natural process.
It seems that you mostly get inspired by your daily life.
Yes. Sometimes, there are some misunderstandings. People say “J’Kyun is a plyayboy, he’s always with girls”. (smiles) I actually understand why when I listen to my songs. However, it mostly comes from my imagination. To be honest, I wouldn’t be able to do things like this. I can’t even speak to women I like when I walk down the street. My songs are just what I imagine in my head. That’s why it became a character.
The one you are in your daily life is quite different from the artist you are.
Very different. That’s why it can be burdensome. Sometimes, I wonder if this image is harmful, but to be honest, I’m quite a boring guy. (smiles)
This image might have been emphasized as you became more famous. What do you think about this?
I really see it in a positive way. Because I’m an entertainer, so there’s no problem for me. To be honest, there’s a lot of talk about the evil editing of “Show Me The Money”. And this is true. They did edit some scenes to make it a bit more extreme, but I thought it was fun to see me like this because they gave me some spotlight. I like satirizing myself too. That’s why they brought to light the “hip-hop prince” character. It was awkward to see they put so much thoughts into this. (laughs)
Do you meticulously monitor yourself?
Yes. I always do.
Which stage was the most memorable for you?
I think “Scratch” is the one I remember the most. I rapped on a beat created by Hyun Do-hyung. I went to the D.O crew and it turned into a complete reversal. That’s why I remember it the most.
You uploaded a handwritten letter on your SNS after the end of the show. How did you end up writing this?
Because I’m the type to speak a lot and express every single word. The fact that people sent me messages meanwhile, stuff like this was really beautiful. There were many things I wanted to talk about, every thing I was feeling in my heart, so I decided to write it down. It’s not a big deal. (laughs)
I thought it was nice seeing you transcend yourself through your music.
This was what I was planning to do. It was all in “Bad Boy”. (laughs)
How do you feel now that “Show Me The Money” is over?
I let out many things, so the speed I’m in is kind of slow. When you’re in too deep, it’s hard to escape. To be honest, when the show was over, it was really hard for me to leave the “Show Me The Money” world in the beginning. I had a big sense of loss. Right now, I’m in the phase of stepping out and finding my own world again.
I think it will be a clear influence on you in the future.
Indeed. I’m still not sure that this is the path I should follow. I easily get distracted, so I think about many things here and there. I must organize my thoughts and move forward.
You recently finished your solo concert at Seonghwangri. How do you feel?
Of course, it was a performance that got me thinking “it went well like I hoped”. I thought hard before the concert because of the people who genuinely came to see me. Like I wondered “should I prepare cookies according to the number of persons attending my performance and write them a letter?”. However, my agency told me not to. They told me to just do a good performance, so I focused even more on my stage. (laughs)
I heard you prepared a special stage for this concert.
I prepared a song that I hadn’t been heard live before. I’m preparing a team called Stupidz [t/n: ? 스투피즈]. It’s the project I wanted to do the most and I showed a lot of things through this team. In “Stupidz”, there’s Rex.D, and just like our team name says, he’s a fool. (laugh) It’s the kind of fool that makes you think “these oppas are fun?”.
Do you have plans for another concert?
This solo concert was an unofficial performance, so it was like a thank you performance. I’m planning a big concert to be held around October. I think I will do a lot of PR when the time comes. I think I will be able to do much more performances.
You said you’re really greedy when it comes to music, so I’m curious to hear about your goal as a rapper.
The thing I want to do the most is rap music, to be an entertainer that is worth being called “a rap star”. Until now, underground rappers have been stubborn about this and think there’s no one worth being called a true rap star. I want to reach the level that will even convince the stubborn listeners. I don’t want to be just J’Kyun who raps. I want to become an icon.
The life style of Positive attitude icon J’Kyun
How do you usually spend your days?
I’m a true housewife. (laughs) When I wake up in the morning, I feed my cats, I clean the room, I wash the dishes, I fold the blankets (smiles). Then I listen to some music. When I don’t feel good, I ride the bus on my own, I go to Samchung-dong and I clear my head. And once I reach a certain level of preparation, I start working on my music.
What kind of music do you usually listen to?
I like music with a feel. Korean music, jazz music, trot music. I like when the feels come. Sometimes, I listen to foreign music or very deep music.
Which song you heard recently gave you such feeling?
Wait a second. There’s one in my cell phone… I’ve been liking the team called Jesse Boykins these days. Ah I just remembered, there’s this white band called Fun. Their song “We Are Young” gives me hope.
I checked your SNS. One of your fans gave you a J’Kyun shaped-like handwritten letter.
Right! That was awesome. It was even taller than me. I was so thankful. When I see things like this, it makes me emotional. Because it’s something given to someone uninteresting like me. I feel the same way. I want to give back in the exact same way, but what I can give them is music. Be it through videos, through performances, through picutres, I want them to hear my music. That’s why I’m planning something right now, but I don’t know how it will turn out. Besides, what I wanted to do is to fill an album with the voices of my fans. Recording them chanting “J’Kyun! J’Kyun!” and putting it into an album. I think it’d be meaningful for them and for me too.
What was in the letter?
It was from a junior in high school. She didn’t say things like “oppa, you’re the best! I really like you”, she said “it’s really nice to see you living brightly”. She said that she had looked at idols all this time, but she hadn’t liked anyone so much and she had given me her heart. I think it’s because she likes the image I have. I worried a lot that people would only look at appearances and have delusions about me.
You always wear New Era hats. Where do you usually go shopping?
I do two kinds of shopping. Buying when I’m just shopping around, buying because I’ve been having my eye on an item for a long time.
Which shop do you often go to?
When I shop offline, I often go to Garosugil. It’s not that I absolutely have to buy something. If I find something I like, I buy it. I really like Korean brands. There’s a simple brand called “xeroxero” that I really like. I also like the brand Critic.
I know you turn 30 this year.
Not yet. (laughs) I was born early in the year, so my friends are already 30. I will be the last one to turn 30.
So, you’re in the last year of your 20’s. (smiles) You really have a baby face. Do you have a secret?
Mad Clown has more of a baby face than me. He calls me hyung, but I’m only two months older than him. This is a baby face. (laughs)
What’s your personal dream and not your dream as a musician?
My little sister is my only family left. My dream is for her to make her dreams come true. I don’t know, but if my mom is watching over us from heaven, wouldn’t that make her happy? Because I’ll give her what my mom couldn’t give her. This is my dream.
What does the word “family” mean to you?
Family? Family… it’s hard to define. I have never thought about it. It’s just something I want to have? There’s something sad about the word, I think that’s the most accurate way to describe my feelings. It’s not that I didn’t have it, but I still want to have it?
Please say a few words to our Cuvism readers.
I really enjoyed doing this interview with Cuvism because I don’t really get occasions to speak about stuff like this for an hour, so I really liked this interview. To be honest, I can be J’Kyun because you guys are here to call me J’ Kyun. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. That’s why I really wanted to do this interview. Every time I can say “I’m here!”, then I know I exist. This was really a warm moment for me today. Thank you!
Original article: cuvism
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com