The show is structured around the creation of a compilation rap album including the work of hip-hop’s top producers, under the guidance of MC rapper San-E. Each week, a new producer presents a new track, and the 11 contestants battle each other for the chance to be featured on it.
The 11 rappers span the underground and mainstream rap scenes, and include some members of idol girl groups -- Hyolyn, the lead singer of girl group Sistar, Yezi of Fiestar and Yubin, the rapper for Wonder Girls.
|The lineup of "Unpretty Rapstar 2" (Mnet)|
Although the inclusion of idol stars on “Show Me the Money” and “Unpretty Rapstar” has often spurred a negative reaction, the director of Mnet was unfazed as he spoke Tuesday to press at the Amoris Banquet Hall at Times Square in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul.
“The intent of ‘Show Me the Money’ or ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ is not to discover underground artists and help them gain recognition,” said Han Dong-chul, director of Mnet. He explained that the original goal of the shows was to introduce the genres of hip-hop and rap to the Korean public so that they could enjoy a wider variety of music. “In that vein, there’s no reason for us to discriminate against artists because they’re idols, because they’re underground rappers or anything else,” he said.
Producer Ko Ik-jo said that having members of girl groups in the lineup actually helped to make a different point as well.
“The female rappers that are being overlooked in Korea aren’t just underground; they’re in girl groups, they’re trainees at various companies,” he said. “We wanted to demonstrate that in a compact way through this program.”
He added that the idol stars had so far shown him very different sides to themselves in meetings and during filming.
The idol rappers themselves seemed to agree -- all three commented that this was something they had wanted to do, to be able to demonstrate their rap skills away from the constraints of their groups.
“The Wonder Girls does retro pop music, and a lot of the music has been focused on what the public wants,” said Yubin. “I could show you my raw side, and the influences I’ve had from the hip-hop music I normally like to listen to.”
The other rappers seemed untroubled about the difference in name recognition. Some, like Heize, Kasper, Ash-B, and Kitti B, already have strong followings from the underground scene. Others like An Soo-min, who first caught the public’s eye with her battle against Blacknut on “Show Me the Money 4,” Sua, who is in her sixth year of training at YG Entertainment and Truedy, who has never released a song or participated in a major concert, must step it up on “Unpretty Rapstar” to stand out. Gilme, the rapper for group Clover, which included TV personality Eun Ji-won, is the oldest and has the most experience performing on the air.
According to producer Ko, these disparities in experience will not sway the core of the show.
“Our program is not just about evaluating rap skill,” he said. “It’s about watching the contestants come closer to reaching their dreams.”
The second season of “Unpretty Rapstar” begins on Mnet on Friday at 11 p.m. and will run for 10 episodes. The uncensored versions of the show can be found on Mnet’s official website.
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)