It is the moment Korean hip-hop fans have been waiting for! Season 4 of Show Me The Money, ‘SMTM4’. How did a year practically fly by so fast!? If you are not familiar with the show, really quick, it’s a reality show where rappers, mostly amateurs and underground rappers, though idols and veterans join in too, compete against one another, for a chance to win about $100,000 and the opportunity to create an album. They are judged by teams made up of veteran Korean hip-hop rappers and producers. The winner of SMTM3, under team Illionaire was Bobby of YG entertainment.
A judge from last year, YDG couldn’t have put it any better when he said, “to be part of SMTM is to be part of Korean Hip-hop history.” The judges this year are Palo Alto and Zico for Team HiLite, Tablo and the members of Jinusean for Team YG, San E and Verbal Jint for Team Brand New Music, and then Loco and Jay Park making up Team AOMG. Loco won SMTM1.
The way the show is setup, the pressure isn’t on the contestants alone. The judging teams also are competing for bragging rights. They have to correctly select the contestants that will eventually join their team, and then groom those contestants where one eventually will win it all.
So in general, what do the judges look out for? Aside from flow, content seems to be important. Also, in K-hiphop intensity is always appreciated.
Because of Bobby’s amazing success in SMTM3, many idol rappers have jumped into the fray to compete in SMTM4. They include Ravi from Vixx, Joo Hun of Monsta X, Seventeen’s Vernon, and the most famous is Winner’s Song Mino.
So how did they perform? Loco passed Ravi. Although he brought the intensity, Ravi did seem have left the flow and rhyming behind. His performance was average and even Loco’s “okay” didn’t seem utterly convincing.
Some say Vernon from 17 didn’t deserve it. Possibly. Let’s just say his idol status made up for anything his rapping lacked. He wasn’t amazing, and he wasn’t horrible. I’d say he has room to improve. And, that’ probably why San E passed him.
Mino’s performance was postponed to next week’s broadcast. I wonder why they didn’t show it. Did he fail?!
The veteran “ringer” last year was Vasco, who went pretty far into the show, and came third. So, experience doesn’t necessarily give a contestant an unfair advantage, or mean they will win it all. It does help in the early rounds.
Among the contestants were some notable veterans, of whom the most famous is P-Type.
P-Type is currently signed to Brand New Music, and has already released at least 3 albums. He also taught CL and Minzy of YG how to rap. P-Type, who’s been around for about 15 years, considers himself a traditionalist in the hip-hop game. He came up with the “Do The Right Rap” series and beat that many idol rappers including Akor’s Kemi used as the beat of their diss tracks.
“Now give me that necklace.” were the words P-Type used to end his amazing rap. Fact is, it was perfect. The flow, ebbing and rising in his signature husky voice, the lyrics, the delivery… here really was a master at work. He rapped out about being told not to come out, and how the young contestants may be looking at him pitifully. But explained he was here to build a golden statue.
Tablo didn’t look too pleased, though. He either felt intimidated, or he thought it wasn’t fair on the other contestants.
Other veterans included a hip-hop duo called “Rhythm Power”. They debuted in 2012 with Amoeba Culture, but apparently they left the label due to lack of success. For them they felt they had something to prove.
The first member to compete, Geegooin, rapped about his broken pride dealing with Dynamic Duo. And, although his start was weak and his voice rather high-pitched, he picked it up in the middle and improved his flow as well as delivery. Tablo did the right thing in passing him.
The second member, Hang Zoo, was standing nearby as he watched his buddy pass. When his turn came, with Tablo, his flow was way too flat and his delivery never really took off. No surprise, he didn’t pass.
Among the 7000 contestants, where some comebacks, individuals who competed in SMTM3 and had returned.
Well, Owen is back! With a neck tattoo. Owen rarely got any screen time during STM3, and frankly Tablo did him wrong in SMTM3. When Tablo bent the rules to save B.I., it required a match up of Owen and the baby-faced Olltii. Using the judging standards, there should have been a rematch. And in earnest, the two people who should have advanced from that extra round, were Ollttii and Owen. But, since Owen wasn’t in Tablo’s eyesight, he was sent home. Nice to see Palo alto do the right thing, by giving him the necklace. But, the road is still long.
Owen, as well as Ollttii have been releasing music since their appearance in SMTM3.
Guess who else is back from SMTM3? Jung Sang Soo! He was a pretty good rapper who carved his own unique path during that season. But sometimes uniqueness has a price: lack of discipline. And, that hurt him. He went pretty far in SMTM3, but missed a crucial rehearsal.
His performance here was amazing. Full of energy, his rhyming was spot on, with great musical flow. San E got caught in the vibe, too. But then hesitated to give him the necklace. Sang Soo is a special someone. Some bird’s feathers are too bright to be in cages. You can’t have the same expectations of him that you’d have of people like idol rappers, who happily exist in their cages. Either way, Sang Soo does need to learn when to control himself and when to let it loose. Let it loose on stage and at home, but otherwise keep it under wraps.
After extracting a promise from Sang Soo to behave himself this time around, Sane E gave him the chain and compared him to Gucci Mane.
Others to Look out for
Black Nut from Just Music, Vasco and Giriboy’s label, went on the offensive against Zico. I don’t know if it was planned or not, but him grabbing Zico’s note-board and flinging across the floor was a way to mentally take control of the situation and put himself over Zico. Zico took it like a good sport. And to cap it all off, he dropped his pants at the end, to show the world he really “has balls.”
A notable amateur that made an impression included a kid with grills and face piercings who wasn’t identified. “I wear a space uniform and I’m in outer space” the kid rapped. He had a sweet and steady flow, and Jay Park let him finish. When he was done, Jay Park couldn’t hide his admiration when he uttered “oooo”. It was a well-deserved necklace.
Others to look out for are Seo Chul Goo, who completely dominated with his freestyle, which was his choice when he asked San E to give him a word to use. San E chose “Diet”.
Next round is in the chamber with all the judges sitting and watching, while the contestant has 60 seconds to prove his mettle.