Check out our exclusive interview with Korean-born, Hawaii based rapper B-Free of HI-LITE Records. In this interview, we discuss about the Green Club Project, his upcoming solo album, HI-LITE compilation album #2 and much more. Check out the full interview below!
Can you tell us about your upcoming track ‘Yoga Flame’?
‘Yoga Flame’ (featuring Okasian) comes out early August. It was supposed to come out sooner but we’re gonna release it with the music video for ‘Kawasaki‘ which was delayed but is now almost complete. ‘Kawasaki‘ is part of my collaboration with Sway’D for our project album called [Green Club]. The track ‘Yoga Flame‘ will be part of my upcoming solo album.
Note: B-Free’s ‘Kawasaki (ft. Play$tar and Sway’D)‘ MV along with ‘Yoga Flame‘ is now available. Check them out below:
What can you tell us about your upcoming solo album?
It’s going to be a while before I drop the album. I’ve been making a lot of beats everyday, but only some of them will make it into the album. I might even get some beats from other people in the future… because making beats for the whole album is harder than I expected.
How many tracks total?
I consider myself old-school, and the old-school albums are usually long and goes up to twenty tracks. Nowadays though, not a lot of rappers in Korea put out that many songs in an album, and I’m thinking kind of the same way right now. If the album is good with 10-11 tracks, I’ll finish it up and drop it. Back then, I would have 10-11 tracks and I would think “No, that’s not good enough… I need more” and the album would take more time and end up getting delayed. If I have a decent amount of tracks, I’ll just put it out.
Your previous albums [Hope] (2012) and [Korean Dream] (2014) had a lot of positive messages such as overcoming hard times and achieving your dream. Will this be a common theme for your upcoming album?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this after [Korean Dream]… I was kind of tired doing that, you know? I started to feel like I was becoming a nagging big-bro type of image. I sounded like I was always telling people what to do. That’s why I started working on the Green Club album, because I wanted to get away from that image and try something fresh. That being said, I still feel like the album is gotta have some kind of story. The album will have a story with a message, but likely won’t be as deep and personal as before.
Can you tell us about the HI-LITE Records compilation album #2?
Everybody at HI-LITE Records feels that each of us need to grow as an individual artist. We all agreed that we would pursue compilation album #2 when the time is right… and I think that time is now. We actually have some very exciting news: we are bringing in new artists very soon. New artists mean new energy. We will see… we will work on new stuff and if everyone feel like making the album, then we’ll just do it.
I saw that HILITE will be performing a show in Tokyo next month. Any plans for touring elsewhere internationally?
We are also in talks with Macao to perform a show there. And I did a feature with a Taiwanese artist, so maybe if he invites us, we’ll go there too. If anyone invites us, we’re willing to go.
Recently you posted a photo on Instagram of you competing in a boxing tournament.
Yeah, it’s just my hobby. I’m not trying to be a professional boxer. It’s my form of exercise, you know? I love boxing. Growing up in Hawaii, you need to know how to fight. I feel like boxing is the best exercise for me.
In addition to boxing, you’re married and making music full-time… how do you balance it all?
I’m glad that I’m this busy. I’m glad that I’m working, especially with music. People don’t know, but as soon as I wake up to the moment I sleep, I work on music, whether making beats or writing my lyrics. Even up to the [Hope] album, I was working part-time doing other stuff. I’m always thankful for getting paid for what I am doing right now. I’m happy that I’m busy. I hope I get busier. *laughs*
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
In 3 years time, I see myself continue making music… that’s it. Hopefully I’ll be in a better position so that I can help other artists and produce beats for them. I also want to be a in a position where my label is bigger and respected.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
For my previous albums I used to talk about my past events like my childhood memories. Nowadays, I really get inspired by the up and coming artists in Korea. New artists like Okasian and Sway’D inspire me to do better and make fresh tracks. My biggest inspiration comes from my fans. I gotta give them something new and something better which pushes me to do better.
On Show Me the Money 4, producers Tablo and San E expressed that the status of being an “idol” is irrelevant if they are able to show that they are good rappers.
I think that’s true. It doesn’t matter whether or not the artist is from an idol group. The reason why I didn’t like idol rappers in the past was because back then, it seemed like the companies would force them to become a rapper in the group despite not being able to rap or even like rap for that matter. But now, the quality of rap from idol rappers is much better. They stepped up. They write their own lyrics and they do their thing, so I don’t think being an idol matters anymore.
But it’s not just about the rap. It’s not just about whether or not you can rap good. I think it deals with the culture and the attitude before everything else. There are so many rappers that I respect and want to collaborate, not because they can rap good, but because of their attitude toward the rap culture.
On the topic of Show Me the Money 4, we discussed about the relationship between him and San E. B-Free stated he feels sorry for the nickname he made for San E through his track ‘My Team’ featuring HI-LITE Records.
B-Free: I didn’t know it was going to be such a big deal. The track blew up out of nowhere… everybody started calling him that. At first, I thought it was cool that my verse blew up, but then after a while I realized how harsh it became on San E. I feel sorry for him. I plan to apologize to him in person.
As a Korean hiphop artist, have you ever felt bound or restricted by the Korean culture in your ability to express yourself musically?
Hell no. my music will never be bound by Korean society. Ever since I first started rapping, I was against the Korean government, especially the military. I feel like it is our job as real artists to talk about these issues, so that we can influence the current and next generation to make the changes we want to see.
In closing, is there anything you want to say to your international fans?
I’m very thankful that I have fans overseas who like my music. I’m going to keep working hard so that I can go see them and open a show wherever they are. That’s my goal.