From the popular track ‘Bad Boy (문제아)’ to the famous phrase ‘That’s No No’, HIPHOPPLAYA sits down with Masta Wu for a chat. In this interview, Masta Wu discusses the time he dropped his free track ‘Come Here (이리 와봐)’ and the various behind the scenes story about his singles and music videos.
HIPHOPPLAYA (HPP): Ever since you released your tracks on Soundcloud, we haven’t heard much from you. How have you been?
Masta Wu (Wu): Over the past year I have been busy working on various projects. Despite the number of tracks completed at the studio, I felt that none met my standards. Looking back, although I was busy, I didn’t push myself. In the end, instead of throwing away the tracks, I decided to release them on my Soundcloud channel.
HPP: Does that mean ‘Come Here (이리 와봐)’ is an old track that remained in dust before it was released on Soundcloud?
Wu: Ah, ‘Come Here’ was actually one of the newest tracks from that collection.
HPP: You were a member of YG Entertainment at its infancy. Do you play any other roles in the label outside of a musician?
Wu: I write lyrics. I produce for a YG artist. I’m much better at writing lyrics than composition so I find myself doing more of the former. There’s no spot for me as a composer since there are so many talented friends in YG. That being said, I continue to write composition.
HPP: To be honest, I was quite surprised to hear that your comeback was through ‘Show Me the Money’. How did you get yourself into the show?
Wu: Truthfully I didn’t expect it either. (laughs) The invitation to the show was first given to my friend Tablo. After he accepted the offer, the invitation came to me. I was comforted by the fact that Tablo was in the show because he is such a natural on TV shows. In addition, I was happy about the team. Some might think Tablo and I have an awkward relationship, but it’s quite the opposite. Back when I dissed the Movement Crew, the diss was towards Tiger JK, not the other crew members such as Tablo. That’s why I can get along with Dynamic Duo and friends just fine. After the diss, Tiger JK and I settled our beefs and no longer have anything against each other.
HPP: Many [artists] have benefited from ‘Show Me the Money’ due to its popularity.
Wu: Agreed. One season of Show Me the Money had more influence than my 10 years of music career, which is why I recently dropped a new single, with a new album which is currently in the works.
HPP: Are you currently working on your album? How far along are you?
Wu: It’s hard to say what my progress is with the album, but I do have quite a few tracks. It’s still in the planning stage.
HPP: The phrase “That’s No No” has jumped from a viral phrase to a cliche in lyrics. What are your thoughts?
Wu: I think it’s great. But, I’m an artist — I should be making famous tracks, not famous phrases. (laughs) But to be clear, it wasn’t my intention to make it viral just for the sake of making it viral. In that aspect, I learned that a successful track is produced not from vigorous planning, but through your emotions.
HPP: Among the tracks you released on Soundcloud, ‘Come Here (이리 와봐)’ was quite popular. This track returned in your new single. How did you go about this?
Wu: I really enjoyed the original track when it was released on Soundcloud. I am very thankful to Teddy [producer]. It was one of the most listened tracks from my discography. I wasn’t keen on the idea of re-releasing the original track…
HPP: Because you grew tired of it? (laughs)
Wu: No, not because of that, but because it lacked the freshness and energy to be considered a comeback single. That being said, I loved the concept of ‘Come Here’ which is why a remix was made.
HPP: I personally loved the vibe of the original version. But as you mentioned, the track was re-released with an entirely different taste. Do you have any regrets when comparing it to the original version?
Wu: Not at all. The new single should not be compared with the original version as they are two different tracks. My tracks are generally mid-tempo with steady flow, so it refreshing to create this single that is powerful and fun. Moreover, the track was enhanced by the help of Choice37, Dok2 and Bobby.
HPP: The music video is also very YG-like with many featured artists. In addition to The Quiett and Beenzino, members from the Cohort (Okasian, Keith Ape, Jay Allday) were featured as well.
Wu: Jay Allday is a old friend of mine. Although Okasian is a lot younger than I am, we treat each other more like close friends rather than as hyung and dongsaeng. Through our friendship I learned that he is really follows his passion without worrying about what others think of him. One day we will work together. Since they are good friends I thought I would invite them to the music video shoot.
HPP: How did you go about featuring Dok2 and Bobby in the new track?
Wu: Dok2 and I have always stayed in touch. Whenever I tell Dok2, “Yo, use me in your new tracks”, he would respond with, “Anytime hyung”. Back when I was preparing my previous album, Dok2 rapped in one of the tracks. When I think about the concept of the track ‘Come Here (이리 와봐)’, there was no one but Dok2. Bobby was chosen because of his incomparable and youthful energy. With his strong image following his victory on ‘Show Me the Money’, he was the right person to feature on my new single.
HPP: Is there an explicit version of ‘Come Here’?
Wu: [no]. Dok2’s verse reminded me of my style, because I rap like that. Instead of writing before rapping, you would write down what you’re saying and the phrases you enjoy phonically.. It’s my favourite style. In contrast to my positive response, the rest of YG weren’t so hot with Dok2’s verse. Because of this I carefully asked Dok2 to change a few things. He agreed to change it, “No Problem, I Got it..” but ended up leaving it unchanged (laughs). Come to think of it, I think he purposely left it unchanged. Anyway, he’s a great artist and I am thankful.
HPP: What about Bobby?
Wu: I personally don’t enjoy swearing. [Korean] curse words don’t sound pleasant. But the same phrases in English sound better and cool. You feel what I’m saying? (laughs) That’s why I try not to swear in Korean. That’s why I asked Bobby to keep the swearing to a minimum to which he responded with ‘Of course!’ I’m sure he had to revise a lot of his lyrics [to remove the swearing]. In the original version, Bobby’s verse seemed like a diss toward an individual, but he consciously revised his verse over time. Bobby added a lot of passion into this track.
HPP: What about your verse?
Wu: My verse is towards my haters. It’s easier to swear on the web than in real life. For example, I enjoy getting out of the studio and walking around in places like Hongdae. Many hip-hop friends who spot me would come say hello and act nice to me even if they don’t like me.
HPP: Has the YMGA Project come to a full halt?
Wu: Yes, a complete stop. It was meant to create a duo team, but due to the lack of success it lost it’s purpose.
HPP: Can we expect your new album to drop next year?
Wu: Of course, because if not next year then who knows when it will drop (laughs)
HPP: Thank you for your time and we look forward to your new album!