Hit K-pop songwriter Bang Si-hyuk, the sharp-tongued judge in “MBC Star Audition,” has introduced his first self-produced idol band BTS with the hopes of bringing back Korea’s golden era of hip-hop.
BTS, short for the Korean name “Bangtan Sonyundan” which means a bulletproof boy scout, presented themselves at their debut showcase with first single album “2 COOL 4 SKOOL,” at the Ilchi Art Hall in Seoul on Wednesday.
With a DJ set in the background, seven boys donning black T-shirts and golden accessories, showed their talents in their very first public performance of their title track “No More Dream.”
Under the theme of serving as spokesmen for teenagers, who will probably be their main listeners and fans, BTS impressed the media with their powerful vocals and rap skills that were matched with their well knitted dance moves.
For their performance of track “We are bulletproof PT.2,” BTS proved their true value on stage with eye-catching dance skills in the song that each member’s distinctive voice exposed itself while in harmony.
Then with their hands shaking from nervousness and excitement, BTS members Rap Monster, Jimin, j-hope, V, Jin, SUGA and Jung Kook went on to introduce themselves to the world.
Q. What is the meaning of your team’s name?
j-hope (19, rapper/vocalist): Our generation is going through a lot of hardships in life, as well as facing a lot of prejudice and suppression. So it means we want to protect our generation’s thoughts and values from the prejudice that pours down on us like bullets.
Q. Tell us about your title track “No More Dream.”
Rap Monster (18, leader/rapper): We restructured a genre called gangsta rap, one of the hit genres in 1990s, to fit people’s sensitivity today. It might feel similar to Dr. Dre’s song “Deep Cover” to some people.
j-hope: It’s about the concerns people our age have over our dreams and future. We’re always just studying so much that we don’t even have the chance to think about what we want to do. So we sang about the anxiety that comes from the vague realities we face and that we should try to overcome such anxieties.
Q. I heard that you guys wrote the lyrics for “No More Dream.”
SUGA (20, rapper): Yes, we did. And Rap Monster and I re-wrote the words for “No More Dream” more than 20 times because it was the title track… until we were able to get exactly where we wanted to with the song.
V (17, vocalist): I loved the song the moment I listened to it. I didn’t know how hard of a time they had writing it at first, but after I found out, I felt very grateful to them.
Q. Were there any incidents on the set of filming the music video for “No More Dream”?
Rap Monster: Since we’re a hip-hop group, there was a scene where we break everything with lumber. But mine had a nail sticking out of it and I accidentally grabbed it. We had to halt shooting for a bit, I got a shot for tetanus, and we continued shooting. I’m perfectly fine now.
SUGA: We’ve all been on a diet but on the day of filming the music video, we were allowed to have a normal meal from the meal truck. The staff said they thought we might swallow the meal truck (laughs).
Q. Tell us about other tracks.
Rap Monster: “We are bulletproof PT.2” is the sequel to the first song we revealed in 2010. It’s not that different from the original except for the fact that we put in three years’ worth of hard work into writing the lyrics. There’s a part that goes, ‘Throw a stone if you ever tried as hard as I, we go hard.’ You’ll be able to feel that we really worked hard.
j-hope: A song named “Like It” is about a guy clicking on ‘Like’ on his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook posting, pretending to be cool about it when he’s actually not. I’m sure a lot of people’s conscience will be pricked by the song (laughs).
Jin (20, vocalist): You can expect to see our sweet side through that song, one that’s different from “No More Dream.”
Q. Hip-hop could be a difficult genre for an idol group.
Rap Monster: Although hip-hop could be considered a less-attractive genre to the public, I think it is also the genre that all people can enjoy if a hip-hop artist makes his music easy for the public. And that’s what we’re aiming at.
Q. What is a charm that you would say is distinctive of you?
Rap Monster: Every member of our group participated in not only writing and composing the songs to our album, but also contributed to the sounds. And the individual dance breaks to “We are bulletproof PT.2” were made by Jimin, Jung Kook and j-hope so I think those are what make us a genuine hip-hop team.
Q. You guys have a blog which contains a lot of information.
Rap Monster: Yes, we’ve been running a blog even before making our debut and we put up our self-composed songs, freestyle rap lyrics, mix tapes, and working diaries. We haven’t been posting on it recently because we had to prepare for our debut but we’re going to continue to communicate with our fans more through the blog.
Jimin (17, vocalist): We once produced a mix tape named “Trainees’ Christmas” last year and demanded our producer Bang Si-hyuk buy us a company dinner (laughs).
Q. Did you feel pressured by the fact that you’re the first idol group by producer Bang Si-hyuk?
Rap Monster: Quite a lot because he’s famous and his nickname is also ’Hitman Bang.’ But he believes in us and we believe in ourselves. So we’re going to try to feel as confident as we can.
Q. Which team do you consider your rival?
Rap Monster: There’s no team we’d like to beat. We just hope to take our first step well. I’d like for us to become the group that people will think of when it comes to hip-hop groups.
j-hope: They say it’s hard for new idol groups to survive in the K-pop scene these days but we’ll make sure we do.
Q. One last comment?
Jung Kook (15, vocalist): It has finally hit me, after giving our first performance and finishing our showcase. Please keep an eye on us.
SUGA: When you type in BTS on Naver (Korean web portal), you’ll also see the related search word ‘when in the world will BTS debut? It’s so annoying’ (laughs). We’ve finally made our debut so we promise not to forget the determination we have right now and stay in the K-pop scene for along time.
Rap Monster: Since we’re a hip-hop team, we’d like to be a team that loves, enjoys, and excels at hip-hop.
Reporter. Lee Hye Ji firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor. Jessica Kim
Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment