The first guy of the night and subsequently on the chopping block was “New Champ,” who failed to receive any passes (you need only one pass to advance to the next round). His flow was really bad, and somewhat incoherent. His stage presence gave off the opposite of a rapper’s appearance, which is be cool and show a certain level of fluidity. As the judge “Dok 2” said of his style “it’s too distinct”, or as a matter of translation, too boxed in.
Bobby, the infamous YG trainee of the losing Team B from the Winners competition, is what you call an impetuous character. His performance started slow and gritty, but with sixty seconds to impress the judges, YDG failed him just 10 seconds in. With that he picked up the pace, improving his flow, and injecting a little more energy. “The Quiett” put his hand to ear for clarity, but “Swings” who likes to make faces, tapped his partner judge, “San E” and made a face to fail him. With two judging teams left and the seconds rapidly winding down, Bobby jumped off the stage platform to get closer to the judges, and upped it a notch with some fast and motor-mouth rapping, causing Dok 2 to lean in closer. As if figuratively wiping the sweat from his brow, Bobby let out a hoot at the end of his sixty seconds. Tablo’s judging team and Illonaire’s judging team with Dok2 and The Quiett both gave him passes. Unimpressive, but enough to proceed.
One of the best performance of the episode came from a young man with a laugh like Joker’s from Batman. Sung Janggoon is straight out of the boondocks, from a village known as the end of the world in South Korea. It is the southern most point in the country. With supreme confidence he burst into the judging chamber with a yell, causing Dok 2 to squirm a little. Ultimately, his flow, lyrical content, and vibe, wrapped up in an infectious energy, got him all passes from the judges. He had them bopping their heads and doing the wave. If he keeps this up, he may very well win it all. His potential weakness though, may be his rather high-pitched voice
YDG got a lot of flack for his judging from the other judges. Sticking out like a sore thumb, he failed-to-fail several contestants the other judges failed without hesitation. Defending himself after a particular lack-luster contestant, he said “I have peculiar tastes and I think he is unique. It was strange somehow and I found it fun.” Some of his passes, indeed needed to go home, but it does seem that most of the judges prefer a more aggressive and mainstream style of rapping. Someone with a rapping style similar to that of the rapper “Common” will have a hard time passing.
It was during one of these YDG moments, that the most far-out performance occurred. Jung Sangsoo from Busan, who had no hesitation throwing out the n-word, gave a rather peculiar but nonetheless vibrant performance. Frankly speaking, his energy levels looked similarly to someone laced on something… hope he didn’t drive home.
Earlier, a female rapper, Yook Jidam had gotten an all pass from the judging teams, and was complemented by Tablo’s judging partner as “tough”. While Dok2’s Illionaire team called her rapping “quite aggressive.” Rap and hip-hop with its origins in urban-America, has at times required a level of aggression to get “respect”. However, when it comes to female rappers, it’s actually not a bad idea to drop the aggression, as Biggie Smalls reportedly told the aspiring Lil Kim. That was way back, of course. But, the most successful female rappers like Missy Elliot have more of a mellow and chill flow, compared with the less successful female rappers like MC Lyte. Even today, female rappers like Nicki Minaj, only occasional unleash their aggressive side.
Which all leads to the young girl, Kisum, who only managed to make it through to the next round because of Swings. The other judges did not appreciate that. Kisum had a totally chill vibe to her delivery and stage presence. In a sense she stood out for almost not “trying too hard”. It was different. She was cool and overall just let it all vibe. She was not at all hurried, placing more emphasis on self-expression than judge-impression. She showcased another style and another way, and deserved to make it through. However, she needs to pick her head up more on stage and be just a little more extroverted.
Then there’s Vasco, who introduced himself as a 35 year old who’s been rapping for 14 years. Most of the contestants of SMTM 3 are young, and are in their late teens and early twenties. Unlike in American society, Korean society is cruel sometimes in that you have to figure it out early. Those who are late bloomers aren’t giving much of a chance or choice. Now having said that, American society has it’s own ways of class-cruelty. Veteran that he is, what stood out about Vasco’s performance was his consistency, he really had his flow tight compared to the other newbie contestants, as he should have.
[ Editor’s note: An interesting sight during the broadcast, after Vasco’s performance was a girl in the waiting room sitting in the front row… with braids and a little darker hue than the other contestants. The camera moved too quickly to ascertain her identity. She was seated right next to Bobby. Could it be another Lee Michelle in the making?! Her name is Toy]
Oh, and Bobby being an impetuous character? The next round will have contestants battling each other, and Bobby was the first to pick his opponent. When asked why he chose Kim Sunghee, his reasoning was that the guy had said something a little derogatory towards k-pop idols, and put the judges on the spot with a one-off question at the end of his performance. Well, Bobby… you’re neither an idol nor do the judges care that much about you – that’s not your fight, hommie.