It’s not every day you stumble across someone half your age (I’m almost 30 in the US and already 30 in South Korea) with twice the talent of most Korean rookie rappers, but G. Nine is that someone. He’s also on equal footing with Korean rookie R&B singers, who are making sure 2017 is their year.
On his Instagram, G. Nine describes himself as a rapper, singer, producer, and student. Yes, student. He’s only 15 years old, but he’s already set foot in the Korean hip hop scene. Like landing on the moon, it’s been one small step for him, one giant leap for Korean hip hop.
He released his first “minitape,” 12:00 (English lyrics), earlier this year, but it’s his R&B and soul single “She Said” (English lyrics) that went viral on YouTube, earning over 750,000 views since it was uploaded by WE LOVE KPOP on April 10, 2017.
He’s in good company. His crew, AF1 (Air Force 1), is home to another up-and-coming 15-year-old Korean rookie rapper and R&B singer, Roman Kayz. AF1 is also home to .pacxday, a 16-year-old rapper who just so happens to be in another crew, DIV_IN, with NO:EL (Jang Yong-joon), a Korean rookie rapper to watch.
NO:EL made a brief appearance on High School Rapper before leaving the show due to unforeseen circumstances, but his first impression was good—so good, in fact, that Swings (CEO of Just Music Entertainment) expressed an interest in signing him on the spot. After leaving the show, he signed with Prima Music Group and hasn’t looked back since.
International Korean hip hop fans can look forward to seeing how far these two crews go, but back to G. Nine, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and reminded us all that the future of Korean hip hop is right here, right now.
The following questions were asked and answered in Korean before being translated from Korean to English by Jin-joo (진주), the founder and author of Slay In Korea, for you.
C Jamm said it best: “Just be a good rapper.” You’re only 15 years old, but you’re already a good rapper. You’re better than good, in fact. Were you born with it, or did you have to work for it?
I can’t lie. I was born with it, but I was only born with a little bit of it. In my opinion, I’m someone who had to work for it.
If you listen to my music from the very beginning of my career, then you can see how much I’ve grown and developed, especially as a rapper. In fact, when I first started rapping I was so bad. I often wondered if I should quit making music. I often wondered if this path [choosing a career path as a musician] was the right one for me.
These days I’m slowly starting to build my fan base. I didn’t have any fans before. I’m also gaining recognition from other hip hop artists around the world.
I’m very happy. I can take pride in my music now. I’m confident about my music now.
When did you start rapping?
I remember releasing a cover song with a friend for the first time after watching season three of Show Me The Money [season three of Show Me The Money aired in 2014]. As the rappers stood on stage, I thought, Wow, I want to be like them.
They were so cool.
Who helped you when you started rapping?
If you’ve listened to my music, then you already know who helped me when I started rapping: my friend and fellow rapper Roman Kayz. I released the cover song with him.
When we started making music together, I learned so many things from him. He was and will probably always be the biggest influence in my life.
What kind of crew is AF1 (Air Force 1)?
AF1 is a hip hop crew made up of rappers and R&B singers. It was formed in 2016. Currently, there are three members: me, Roman Kayz, and .packxday.
The founder and leader of AF1, Roman Kayz, is a 15-year-old rapper and R&B singer while member .pacxday is a 16-year-old rapper. He’s also a member of another crew called DIV_IN with NO:EL.
How did you join AF1?
Roman Kayz and I started making music together in middle school, and he let me join his crew later.
What is your dream?
Right now my dream is to work with and stand on the same stage as the hip hop artists I respect and admire. If that dream comes true, then I’ll learn and benefit from everyone and everything so much. I don’t think I need or want anything else right now.
If you could join any Korean hip hop record label, then which one would you join?
If I could join any Korean hip hop record label, then I would join AOMG. It’s trendy and cool!
Forget about joining a Korean hip hop record label for a second. Do you want to start your own, just like Jay Park of AOMG and H1GHR MUSIC RECORDS and Swings of Just Music Entertainment?
If I’m capable of starting my own Korean hip hop record label and becoming a CEO like them, then, of course, I would.
Between High School Rapper and Show Me The Money, which Korean hip hop competition show is better suited to your skills as a rapper?
Honestly, they are both suitable for my skills as a rapper.
Are you considering competing on either show?
Right now I’m living overseas. Unfortunately, I can’t compete on season six of Show Me The Money, but I am considering competing on season two of High School Rapper.
What do your parents think about hip hop; mainly, you pursuing hip hop as both a passion and a profession?
They aren’t against it, but they want me to focus on studying right now, not making music.
Looking at the current Korean hip hop scene, how do you want it to change for the better in the future?
Uhm, these days the Korean hip hop scene is global. I’m starting to see Korean hip hop artists and record labels try to enter the US market little by little.
In my opinion, it’s great to see them try. If they try, then they can show the world what Korean hip hop is and where it is right now. Just trying to enter the US market will have a big impact on the Korean hip hop scene as well. Whether they [Korean hip hop artists and record labels] are successful in the US or not, they’ll grow and develop. I want more of them to try. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Do you have any plans to leave the Korean hip hop scene like Kieth Ape, who is now headlining hip hop concerts in the US?
Of course. Someday, I’ll leave the Korean hip hop scene and try to enter the US market, too.