|Producer and rapper Gray. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)|
This is the 18th article in a series on producers, MCs, DJs and artists working in the Korean underground hip-hop scene. ― Ed.
Producer and rapper Gray said the only concept for his first EP as a performing artist was getting his name out there and introducing himself to the public.
“Call Me Gray” was the first album released under AOMG, the hip-hop and R&B label recently started by former idol star Park Jae-beom.
The two met when they both appeared on a KBS music show. They contacted each other after the show and when Park planned to start his own label, he asked if Gray would work with him.
“I always had been interested in what Jae-beom was doing. I got numerous calls from different labels asking me to join them. But I felt that Jae-beom, AOMG, would be more fitting for me,” Gray said.
“So out of all those different labels or agencies, I picked this one.”
Park even featured on the title track, “Dangerous,” which showcases Gray’s smooth rap style and laid-back groove. The two appear to have a close working relationship, as evidenced by Gray correcting himself when he called Park by his first name rather than referring to him as the boss.
While the EP released last month marks Gray’s debut as a professional rapper and performer, Gray had made a name for himself before as a producer, working with big names in the industry such as Zion T and Swings.
“I started out as a producer under the name Gray and I wrote songs, but my voice, my rapping, wouldn’t appear on the tracks,” he said.
“But I have experience rapping in high school and I was practicing my vocal skills throughout. That’s why I wanted to put my rapping in a song I wrote myself.”
However, he admits that making the switch from a producer to a producer and rapper has its moments of fear.
“When I was preparing to put out my album, everything was just really fun. But now that it’s out and more of the public can approach my songs, half of me is scared because I don’t know if people are going to like it or criticize. Most of the public feedback seems to be on the positive side, so that’s good.”
Gray gets inspiration from a lot of different artists when it comes to music, but with lyrics, he turns to everyday life, something he said attracted him to hip-hop. He said in Korea the music industry is very idol-oriented, so when listening to rappers talk about their life through their lyrics, he felt they were more honest.
Aside from music, Gray is interested in drawing as well, and it wasn’t until high school that he decided to pursue music.
The most difficult part of his career as an artist was convincing his parents to let him go into the entertainment industry. He said like most Korean parents, they wanted him to study and get a nice job.
“At first it was very difficult to reassure my parents of my choice to become an artist. But after that, because I’m doing what I love to do, the fact that I started out as a rookie isn’t really difficult for me,” he said.
Now with his EP out he said he is working on more songs. He’s not sure if it’s going to be a full album or if it’s going to be an EP. He’s also had a lot of requests to collaborate and produce songs. He enjoys writing his own beats and then giving them to others.
In the future, he wants to keep doing what he is doing and gain support from the public.
“I want to let my name be known,” he said. “And I want to succeed. I don’t know how, but I want to be able to do music continually into the future. Whether it is in a different field, I still want to be in music.”
By Emma Kalka (firstname.lastname@example.org)