Check out our exclusive interview with Korean-born, New Zealand based rapper Microdot, where he talks about his music, his experience with Show Me the Money 4, and his personal ambitions and future direction.
Let’s start from the beginning. Can you introduce yourself to your fans from overseas?
My name is Microdot from New Zealand. I used to be a part of ALL BLACK with Dok2. This time it’s different – this time around I’m doing this in God’s way. Because if I do, it’s impossible to fail, you know? Whatever happens at Show Me the Money 4, it’s all planned. It’s one of the reasons why I got no fear of starting this again. It’s hard to start again when you’re once well known and then you disappear for a while. I feel real privileged and blessed that I know all these people. I got a very good support team: my brother Sanchez, he’s a good dude… my long time close brothers like Bumkey and Dok2… and my girlfriend – she’s probably my best and critical supporter. But it’s hard because she’s over there [in New Zealand] and I’m here, you know?
For those that got to know you through Show Me the Money 4, they may not know your past, such as [Microdot EP] (2013). Can you tell us about the mixtape?
I started working on the mixtape when I visited Korea about 3-4 years ago. It was a free release – I wanted to show that I am still doing music. My visit to Korea was inspiring and motivated me to do music again. But I gotta graduate [from University] and have other important things to focus on at that time. The tracks on the mixtape are an expression of my feelings and experience in life – the way I see the industry… how my name used to be known, but not anymore. It was me trying to help listeners relate to my life experiences – good and bad, and helping them get through the bad ones. It was never started as a money making project.
The tracks you released in the mixtape has a lot of well known producers and artists, such as Bumkey and Phantom (Sanchez and Kiggen). I also noticed that American producer Just Blaze produced a track too… how did that come about?
The beat was available for free online. I listened to the beat and was hooked onto it immediately. I used it for my track ‘Growing Up’ which is a track about my life in New Zealand. The struggles, how I got along with my family, coming to a new country… I think the track was real good for the Gyopo (교포) people. I get a lot of messages from Korean Americans that really feel the song because they can relate to the struggles. It takes a while before you become one with the city that you live in.
Going back to the people that didn’t know you before Show Me the Money 4, if you could choose one of your tracks as an introductory to yourself, which one would you recommend?
‘Twenty.’ It’s a remix of a Drake track. This is one of my favourite tracks because the lyrics I used on it was what people can relate to at the time and age I was at when I wrote it… “sick of saying in the morning what happened last night / don’t recall but it was the best night, that’s right” and “I’m turning twenty soon, they say I should live my age, / saying… If I don’t live now, regret will cave in, / but I’m living in stages, tryina lift my wage.”
It’s hard because, the time and age I was in, my dream and faith was so strong. I wanted to become such a bigger rapper but it was so difficult. The lyrics was about introducing myself to the adulthood. I talked about how I got the best girl to support me in whatever I do.. that’s one of the biggest blessings you could ever get from God. To have someone who is by your side going through everything you do. The track talks about how nineteen and twenty year olds act. I used to party a lot before starting my University career which made me realize I had to take things more seriously, you know? So many fans who are in University and College told me that they can relate to this song which pushes them even harder to work. Twenty is definitely my favourite.
Can you tell us about Downbad.?
Downbad. is a movement that started from my hometown Auckland, New Zealand. A person feels “Downbad.” just before they are about to do something they know they shouldn’t be doing. For example, if a guy who has a girlfriend goes a club and is about to get a number from another girl, he is being “Downbad.” In other words, “if you feel Downbad., don’t do it.” The movement is a way to spread positivity. I wanted to make it into something people can physically feel a part of, so the slogan became a clothing line and street wear. It’s definitely not merchandizing off Microdot. It’s more like Microdot is sponsored by Downbad.
During the music video shoot for my track ‘For The Road To Riches’ I printed a Downbad. crew neck jersey, and my friends were hitting me up later asking where they could get one. From one person, to second, to thousands… it all started from the bottom *laughs*
Does Downbad. ship internationally?
Of course. Wherever you are, email us and we’ll ship our merchandize to your country.
One of the main topics fans want to hear is your involvement with Show Me the Money 4. How did it all come about? Was it all planned?
Nah man, I didn’t even know what Show Me the Money 4 was until three weeks before the competition started. My brother Sanchez called me up and encouraged me to sign up for the competition. He knew my ambition to make music, and he thought this was a way to kickstart that dream. It was a very hard decision. It meant I had to leave everything I was comfortable with… my job, my family, my girlfriend and friends. I’ve done that before [during the ALL BLACK era] and I didn’t want to go through all that again.
I was actually visiting Korea earlier this year to shoot a music video, and it turns out Show Me the Money 4 was happening at the same time. I had no intentions for Show Me the Money 4, but when I arrived in Korea, I applied for the show not thinking too much about it.
The first round of Show Me the Money 4 came, and I passed onto the next round. I thought, “What? This is weird but pretty cool” but I really had no intentions to make it further than the first two rounds. Week after week, I didn’t have time to prepare like other rappers… I prepared for my verse one week before the first round of the show. Second round I prepared and memorized two verses in one week. Third round, three verses in one week. It was constant and really stressful. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was doing, just like when I started ALL BLACK in 2005. My path in Show Me the Money 4 was turning out to be like my path with ALL BLACK ten years ago. But I kept pushing and going up.
The best part about my experience with Show Me the Money 4 so far was meeting BewhY. During the first round, I remember praying to God, “Is this the right thing I’m doing? If so, please show me something, some kind of message.” Soon afterwards, I met BewhY. It turned out he was very Christian too. We talked about God, His grace, and our personal experiences. And then Owen Ovadoz came over and joined the conversation. I realized that I’m in an MNET show, in a worldly situation with music and fame and materialism, and here we are talking about God in this situation. At that moment, I knew that this could be start of something good. Something that I could do… God using me as his messenger. And it all rolled out from there. It was incredible.
With the new friendships made through the show, do you plan on collaborating with BewhY and Owen Ovadoz?
With Owen, definitely. With BewhY I’m already hitting hit him up about my new project, you know? When someone gives you a positive vibe, and it returns in a give and take relationship, collaborating is something you gotta do. Some things happen for a reason. I’m definitely going to collaborate with BewhY.
During the second round, BewhY and I were the only ones that didn’t fight each other. As soon as our friendship grew, I told him, “Let’s empty our greed and show these judges and make them really have a hard time deciding who moves up to the next round. Let’s not diss each other. Let’s show them a performance people would be willing to pay to watch.” And that’s exactly what we did.
A lot of people hate on MNET, but they work hard. They’re just like us, you know? Most of them are underneath people, so they just follow the rules. There’s nothing they can do. They really, really work hard. And plus, when you know that MNET is a company known for the Devil’s Cut (악마의 편집) , don’t do the stuff that they can portray you poorly! It’s simple as that.
So you don’t have any concerns that MNET is going to twist your words and portray you poorly on the show?
Nah man. Nothing. And I never acted either on the show. I never put myself trying to make myself someone I’m not. What you see on the show is the true me.
A few years ago in an interview article I found, you mentioned that during your visit to Korea you asked Dok2 for a collaboration, but I don’t think that fell through.
Nope. No collaboration. *laughs* He said he’d help me out, but truthfully I didn’t expect anything because I returned to New Zealand shortly afterwards. At that time, I was young and naive. Looking back, I understand the place he was in. Every step he made was calculated so that every step was solid. He’s very smart… probably one of the smartest in the music industry that could ever do what he has done.
Back then the collaboration didn’t go through, but now that I’m in Korea, we are definitely going to be collaborating in the near future.
Any other Korean artists you would like to collaborate with?
Not in particularly. I’ve already collaborated with my brother Sanchez. If I could choose five, it would be BewhY, Bumkey, 1LLIONAIRE, Hyukoh and Choice37. But I’m always down for new music and collaborations, as long as it suits me.
What do you look for in a collaboration?
For me, the message of the track is definitely a strongpoint when considering a collaboration.
How about international collaboration?
There’s a lot. I want to tour North America… I would collaborate with pretty much anybody, everybody. Big Sean, Kanye, DJ Mustard, Young Chop, Jay-Z, J.Cole, Kendrick… anyone… Taylor Swift. *laughs* I’m a big fan of her music. Her album  is crazy! I would list that album in my top 5 albums in the last two years.
Other favourite albums on your list?
- J.Cole – [Forest Hills Drive] (2014)
- Big Sean – [Dark Sky Paradise] (2015)
- Dok2 – [MULTILLIONAIRE] (2015)
- San E – [The Boy Who Cried Wolf (양치기소년)] (2015)
- Drake – [If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late] (2015)
Let’s talk about your hobbies. I read somewhere that you are really into fishing?
Definitely! I actually have a fishing brand… it’s called Fishing Experience NZ (New Zealand). I have a lot of experience in fishing, so I provide fishing tips with photos of my catches and the products I use. I actually meet up with the people in the product line so in that sense, I know the products inside out which allows me to provide these tips online.
How did that come about? Did you start fishing with your family?
My dad taught me how to fish when I was real young… like five or so, and I built up from there. When I was in high school, my mates and I would go fishing with our parents. As soon as we hit sixteen, we took the boat out ourselves. Fishing has always been and will be something I love doing. When you go out on a boat on the water and all you see is water around you, you feel like there’s absolutely no problem. All that problem goes away, because the only thing you concentrate on is when the fish is going to bite, which is all the time because I know where to go. *laughs*
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
In 3 years? Hopefully I’ll be married. I want to have a kid. I want to tour the world with my family and do what we love. I want to crack the North American scene, because my english rap is way tighter than my Korean, any day of the week. *laughs*
I would love the opportunity to jump on North America, but it’s all in God’s time. One thing Dok2 has taught me is that every single person will get there time. It might be ten years’ time, it might be a week. But that’s something you just cannot rush… because you’ll regret it. Just wait for your time. That wisdom comes straight from Dok2‘s personal experience. He also taught me that “if you drop out of Show Me the Money, don’t cry.” *laughs*
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 agree with that completely. As artists in the industry—underground or over—I think jealousy results in harsh comments toward other rappers. Idols could be dope ass rappers, but they could be restrained by their company. No artists work harder than idols in this industry. Mad respect for them and the things they go through. If they’re dope at rapping, it’s going to show one day. That being said, if they don’t love what they do, then they shouldn’t do it, you know? I mean, why make your image so solid to the point of being something you’re not? Bottom line is, if you want to be an idol, be an idol. If you want to be a rapper, then be a rapper. Be happy about it.
Do you have any closing remarks for your fans from overseas?
Everything I do, I just hope [the fans] respect it and appreciate my music. Feel free to reach out to me online, you know? I’m easy to contact. To me, there’s so much more to life than the materialistic stuff like money and fame… these don’t come close to what really matters to me. This is just a part of the package that unfortunately comes with my dream.
Never put your head down, because life is short. Make the right choices, don’t regret, have an open mind, have faith, and trust in God or whatever you believe in, you know?