Considered one of the most prominent underground rappers in the country, the rapper-producer’s pride rested on showing off “real” hip-hop that you cannot see on TV.
|Deepflow (Vismajor Company)|
But Deepflow has overcome his disdain for the mass media, introducing his crew Vismajor to the general public.
“Back when I made the album “Yanghwa” (in 2015), I wrote the lyrics (about not appearing on TV) just as an artist. Now as a CEO, I feel that I have to try something new,” he said during an interview with The Korea Herald.
Appearing on Mnet’s audition show “High School Rapper,” in which he was a mentor for Jon Won-woo, was one such attempt. Jon finished third in the competition.
“I thought about it a lot, because our stance has always been not to appear on TV,” he said. As the CEO of Vismajor Company which he established in 2013, Deepflow sees limitations of an independent record label.
While he has logged nearly 14 years as a rapper, Deepflow is a relative newcomer as a producer and head of a company.
Working at club Cocoon in Hongdae as host MC in the early 2010s, he began hanging out with other MCs and DJs. Among them was rapper Wutan, who became one of the first members of Vismajor Company.
“Our first meeting was a little bit odd. He came up to me and I jokingly said, ‘rap for me.’ I obviously didn’t think he’d actually do it.
“Was he any good? I don’t know. I was so embarrassed that someone was actually rapping for me in the middle of a restaurant.”
Thus began the Vismajor Company, the most well-known group of underground hip-hop artists in Korea that, over time, came to represent rappers Don Mills, Brasco and Row Digga, among others.
Deepflow’s pride in his company is well-demonstrated in the 2016 single “Prime Time.”
“When you look at the lineup for hip-hop concerts, most of them are artists who appear on TV. Except us. Our crew was growing, and I felt good because it felt like it was our time,” he said. “If there’s one thing I can be proud about as the leader of Vismajor Company, it‘s that I managed to support all my members to release at least one studio album and a have solo concert.”
He said putting music first without media appearance has not been easy.
The Korean hip-hop scene has certainly changed since Deepflow first started spitting fire in 2003. Mnet’s “Show me the Money” and “Unpretty Rapstar” are just some of the hip-hop-theme TV shows to hit the small screens recently.
“Ten years ago, many Koreans’ perception of a rap song was ‘just a bunch of mumbling.’ Now your girlfriend‘s father can tell what is and isn’t a good rap song,” he said.
With growing popularity of the genre, many rappers are now becoming more obsessed with fame rather than music, Deepflow pointed out.
“Before, we used to worry more about what kind of music we wanted to make. Now, artists worry about what TV show they appear will appear in,” he said.
While still putting music first, Deepflow said he wanted to work more toward showing his crews’ music to the general public. This includes plans to perform outside of Korea, although no specific plan has been set yet.
Deepflow said he wished the mass public would see that hip-hop is more than just rap battles. “If there’s one complaint about the current TV shows, it’s that they’re all about ranking the performances,” he said.
What is hip-hop, then? The rapper said it is more of a lifestyle that you enjoy.
“Even if you don’t rap or dance, if you like the music and things related to it, you could say you are into hip-hop,” he said.
With the future of his young company still hobbling forward, his biggest wish now is to make Vismajor Company a long-lasting label.
“I think of hip-hop as a young culture. I want to keep supporting the young artists, and work with them when they’re ready,” Deepflow said.
He continues his work as an artist as well, with a new studio album due later in the year.
“I want to keep going until I run out of ideas. My goal is to keep at it as long as I want.”
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org)