Read about Illionaire’s interview with W Korea magazine (February issue).
Revealing the B-cut pictorial and untold stories of Beenzino, The Quiett, and Dok2; the three artists that comprise Illionaire. 1)The picture and interview was taken directly from the official W Korea website, varies from physical magazine.
From the left :
The Quiett is wearing a black shirt ‘Iceburg’ by Koon, an inside top ‘T’ by Alexander Wang of Tomgrey Hound, leather pants by Juun.J, and Nike sneakers products. The t-shirt, snapback, and accessories are all his own possessions.
Beenzino is wearing the metallic hood jacket of Calvin Klein Platinum and a shirt that is a Rick Owens product. The hood t-shirt and hi-top sneakers are owned by the editor.
Dok2 is wearing leather pants that are Juun J’s product. The fur coat belongs to the editor while the hood t-shirt, shoes, and accessories are his own possessions.
The studio suddenly was stirred up. This was because Beenzino, The Quiett, and Dok2 who were in the middle of filming after coming to the makeup room and the set had now turned on their phones and were taking proof shots. 11:11 pm, the coinciding 1’s are an automatic response as the number ‘1’ has now been habitually solely associated with the members of Illionaire Records; even to the point where they held a special concert on November 11th, for a ticket price of 11,111 won. “We officially started our label on the January 1st, 2011. The first letter of 1llionaire is a ‘I’ and the shape looks similar to a ‘1’ so we changed the logo to a ‘1’, the first song was released on January 11th, we made an 11:11 sign, <11:11> album was released…there are a lot of deep connections.” Like co-CEO The Quiett’s words, the best and sole meaning of the number ‘1’ fits well with Illionaire. This is because of the life they aim for and the pride they have that their skills are pure with no backing. The Quiett who became independent from Soul Company and knew Dok2 for a long time and got along with as a rapper suggested making a label together, through their own respective skills and personalities these two that gained respect and confidence became partners. According to Dok2, “Before we were fellow musicians we were fans (of hip-hop), if we joined mainstream hip-hop companies, and compromised it seemed like we’d destroy our image and hurt ourselves.” And they recruited Beenzino. 6 months after establishing the label, Beenzino joined Dok2 on the stage of his concert and released the news of his recruitment. Beenzino relayed that it was like a spiritual feeling when the two CEOS first suggested Beenzino’s recruitment. “It was an important turning point for me. I was close to completing a contract with a company that was hip-hop but it was mainstream so I felt uncomfortable. At that time, The Quiett-hyeong and Dok2 called and talked to me, they told me ‘If you come to us in the future you’ll be able to change to the good part of the hip-hop stream, up to displaying a big picture.” Four years have passed and now in the present, Beenzino says joining Illionaire was a ‘life decision’.
In the faith that The Quiett and Dok2 show, a close belief is that they proved to be real. After four years of Illionaire’s existence, hip-hop has risen up as a ‘needed factor’ in Korean popular music’s great flow of KPOP. A music specialist who wrote an article foreseeing the music of 2015 mentioned Illionaire as “‘The only team as a hip-hop label that has the power to sell-out every concert”. Skilled members of the underground hip-hop scene, The Quiett and Dok2 both became famous as the original artists of ‘YGGR’ and the ‘Dodeok’ duo producers on the survival audition program <Show Me the Money>. “Other teams seemed competitive but we didn’t really have much interest in winning. When we lost and were asked ‘what are you going to do?’ we answered at interviews that it would be nice to go home and rest. It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose but what’s important is having fun. I made a song in which I yell ‘turn up’ several times but it received a lot of attention so it was interesting.” (Dok2) And these two who had no interest in winning made Bobby the winner. It’s as if they’re saying that ‘hip-hop is the easiest’. (Let’s ask Beenzino if he watched <Show Me the Money> that Dok2 and The Quiett appeared on) “I watched a little bit. It’s like what they did for me, I guess (laughs).” And that’s like how Beenzino’s first solo album that was released last summer reached the top.
“Illionaire’s status in 2015 and 2011 is different. Back then there were a lot of musicians who decided not to work together with us. We also had the confidence and the belief back then that we would do well but to them we didn’t seem to have a reliable position. They didn’t accept the challenge.” Like what Dok2 said, these three people of Illionaire whether it be in the beginning or now have constantly eccentrically had strong confidence in themselves.
936,000. That’s the number of instagram followers the three members of Illionaire records have. They’re not a major company, and it’s impossible for them to get many top hits on major broadcasting stations but they are stars that receive a lot of attention not just through their music but through their lifestyle as well. Some envy and longing is probably tacked onto that interest on instagram that includes pictures of trips to Hawaii, Dubai, etc., cars like Lamborghini and Rolls Royce,, Rolex watches and wide apartments. Gaining everything in life by music, attaining success through hard work like that and showing it off to one’s heart content, they have no hesitation. They also outright mention their material success in their hip-hop rap lyrics, not just on their SNS accounts. “We have a lot of a profit outside of one-dimensional copyright and production royalties. We sell a lot of label merchandise and compared to other musicians we constantly have many events and concerts. To be honest, if you’re just looking at copyright royalties, we aren’t the top producers.” (The Quiett) “Bragging about your success and riches isn’t just a hip-hop thing but it’s common in American music. When looking at real life anyone has that thirst but hip-hop is faithful to the very instinct and is a truthful music. I think that there are alsomany people in Korea who relieve their stress through this type of music.” (Dok2)
Dok2 and The Quiett are inseparable guys who live in the same apartment complex and unimaginably they don’t spend that time drinking alcohol, smoking or exercising. They meet often, travel together and work together. Like Beenzino’s words “The two are like gurus who live in a castle. I get the feeling like I’m playing around in the fields of a castle and if there’s confusion, I can go to the castle and the gurus will give me advice and I can live in the outside world again”, we will focus on the the secret to the success of the ‘Do-deok’ duo, ‘life inside the castle’. Unlike others’ standards, they follow their own convictions, and have everything in life. In that way, Illionaire’s castle has super cars and Nike products, and Versace and Rolex products that glow a golden light bling-bling.
Each one of you has a lot of respect as an artist. What are the individual musical strengths of each one of you?
The Quiett: It’s not hard because we’re the ones who do the best in Korea. In Beenzino’s case, he’s a person that makes hip-hop music that universally all young people like without thinking about it. He’s fresh while making songs with an atmosphere that anyone can relate to. While he doesn’t even remotely follow the trendy style, he uses his own method to gain (fans). It’s subtle and outstanding. In Dok2’s case from the past until now he dominates the position of #1 in strong hip-hop. He’s never changed his style or concepts and doesn’t waver from his path so he’s incredible.
Dok2: It’s clear that the three of us all have our own separate personalities and strong points so isn’t that Illionaire’s power? If you compare it to a game character, the characteristics such as attack, speed, stamina, etc are similar to how characters with the same or similar characteristics gathering together won’t accomplish much so we are all different in the same way. Beenzino-hyeong makes music that anyone can easily listen to while I can’t do that by nature. There’s a difference in our backgrounds like how Zino-hyeong is an elite but I didn’t really go to school. From that you can see that that we each have our own strong points.
Beenzino: The reason I first joined Illionaire is probably because the leaders of hip-hop in our country are these two. I’m not the type to ask a lot of questions but these two are like mentors and I learned a lot from them. In Donggap-hyeong (The Quiett)’s case, he’s like a guru. He’s always available and whenever I’m confused and ask him for help he guides me. I’ve come to know a lot while looking at Dok2’s strong music that causes the hip-hop trends or things like that. He’s an existence that gives me a stimulus to what music I want to do. Overall, because our individual strong points are different it seems like it will be hard for other people to enter (Illionaire).
Like Beenzino said, while not allowing other musicians to join, in this four years you’ve gathered your members as you wished. Are the three people of Illionaire like a sort of trinity?
The Quiett: All three of us have a lot of energy so it seems like it’s unusual for someone who can fit in to the balance. The three of us are like a pyramid that is firm and stable.
Dok2: Aren’t their four sides to a pyramid? Anyways, it’s hard to think that anyone will join now. Even if someone joins, it seems like they’ll need some level of survival tactics. That is if they want to understand this group’s physiology. It seems like they’ll have to go with the tide and carry their own weight while squeezing in (to the group) so they’ll have to survive.
Compared to other hip-hop labels such as AOMG and Just Music, what are the special characteristics of Illionaire?
The Quiett: It’s hard to compare to other labels. They belong to different beliefs.
Dok2: Illionaire was established and results appeared so it seems like our fellow musicians gained courage from that. Nobody tried buying Rolexes and Benz’s before we did.
The Quiett: Dok2 always represents a dream to rappers. That’s because he started doing hip-hop since he was 12 and is a person who succeeded through this path alone.
Dok2: I stopped communications with everyone and started doing music alone. ‘Don’t I just need to succeed through hip-hop then?’ I answer like this to people who said ‘you don’t even attend school, if you can’t earn money through hip-hop in the future what will you do?’
Beenzino: It seems like people don’t bet.2)Meaning they don’t take risks When I was preparing my album and quit school because I felt that I couldn’t continue my school life anymore, everyone said I’ll eventually need a degree. Back then, these two were the only ones who told me to release (the album) at that time. ‘If you quit school, your album will turn out well’.
The Quiett: We have the style of living life with an ‘all in’ attitude, and that type of method is our strength. From that area, we can become the best. We can save time and there’s a difference in concentration. When Zino quit school, we secretly hoped that would happen in our hearts. (Laughs)
Dok2: However we can’t tell you directly. It’s not a school you can easily get into!
Beenzino: From then on after two or three months, my album came out and my life completely changed.
What do you each like outside of music?
The Quiett: I have many hobbies. Furniture, small (action) figures, audio, toys…
Dok2: Traveling, cars, clothes, shoes. These things aren’t far from hip-hop. For a long time since I was 7 years old till now, I’ve lived with the mind of a hip-hop person so anything that is far (from what hip-hop is) is awkward to me. My favorite travel destinations are Hawaii, Las Vegas, and southern France is also nice. When traveling, palm trees are important.
Beenzino: The fundamental field is art so even while striving in music I wanted to integrate art. Starting last year, I’ve been doing a project called ‘IAP’ with my friends. I support my friends’ artwork and it’s fun. There’s not just always only a musical atmosphere in the workplace but an artistic atmosphere is also inspired so I like to try various things. On the hip-hop side, I have Dok2 & The Quiett, on the fine arts side I have my friends, I have acquaintances in the fashion world….without exception I like being inspired by them.
What do you hope to do in 2015?
The Quiett: My biggest goal is for each of us to release a solo album.
Dok2: It’s similar every year. Earn a lot of money and do well.
Beenzino: Releasing a full album is my biggest goal. I also want to have fun doing Iap activities. Up till now, I haven’t lived the same way that other artists have and do well in my own way. Again this year, I want to do activities in a way that is beyond others’ expectations. Through ways such as appearing on TV. I want to become more famous.
[SOURCE: W KOREA]
Translator Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||The picture and interview was taken directly from the official W Korea website, varies from physical magazine.|
|2.||↑||Meaning they don’t take risks|