|Rapper MC Meta of Garion hosts Modu Mic at P-Bro Sound studio. (P-Bro Sound studio)|
For aspiring rappers in a country dominated by K-pop, finding a stage to perform on is a daunting task.
Most hip-hop shows only book established artists and, with the Internet as the main resource, it’s hard to build a big enough fan base to become established.
However, a few established names in the underground scene are giving this elusive opportunity to new rappers.
For first-generation artist MC Meta, one half of group Garion, this takes the form of an open mic.
Every Sunday at the P-Bro Sound studio near Mapoguchong Station he hosts a free event from 7-10 p.m. He said the show, Modu Mic, attracted an average of 80 rappers every week. The open mic is part of a long running tradition he created in 1997 when he performed at hip-hop club Master Plan.
He criticized the way new rappers tend to start out. They try to make a name by being solely active online without performing live, he said, and only perform when they want to promote themselves or tracks.
“I feel that’s backwards, because it should be the other way around. You should learn how to be on stage, how to have your own aura. So that’s why I am trying to make this possible,” he said.
He added that, through the show, he gives artists the opportunity to find their own voice. Too many modern rappers are afraid to tell their own stories and just copy the style of established artists. He hopes that those who come and perform grow and develop originality.
“I want them to have their own story because in the end, that’s what makes them special and stand out from other MCs,” he added.
First generation rapper and producer Onesun also hopes that his show Shining Ground, held every Saturday from 6:30 p.m. at club In2Deep in Hongdae, will get more artists off the Internet and onto the stage.
He said it was easy to release music online nowadays, much different from when he started 15 years ago, but the way to build loyal fans is the same. Through live shows. Shining Ground is audition-based ― aspiring rappers must submit tracks, lyrics and a profile before an audition ― but he started it to give unknown artists a chance to grow.
“I wanted to give merits from a live performance to my SG artists, like developing their ability on the stage, making them realize their merits and demerits, making their loyal fans, making them collaborate with really good ones in SG,” he said.
In its second season, the show has started attracting some foreign artists and spectators ― something Onesun said motivates all the artists, since the foreign crowd is more vocal about what they like.
One former Shining Ground artist, Sool J, now hosts his own freestyle shows. After becoming the Miller Freestyle champion in 2005, Sool J started Freestyle Town and regularly holds three shows ― Boxer in Hongdae, AMPER show in Ulsan and Freestyle Day at Uniquo AX Hall.
Held throughout the year, he invites both amateur and professional artists to perform in order to spread the culture of freestyle and cypher throughout the country.
“These events, because they consist of amateurs and professionals, I believe that they could serve as a development process for these amateurs and for them to get good experience. And it’s not just for MCs, but for beatboxers and dancers,” he said.
Both Modu Mic and Shining Ground can be found on Facebook. The freestyle shows by Sool J in Seoul can also be found on Facebook, though those interested in AMPER show in Ulsan should watch for advertisements before the next show.
By Emma Kalka (firstname.lastname@example.org)