ROKHIPHOP has started this interview series to look for rappers who have released good mixtapes and albums but receive relatively less attention, thus the series is titled ‘SCV’s Mineral Excavation Interview’. This time, the guest is Khundi Panda who has been receiving a lot of attention recently.
SCV: You are already my fourth guest. Please introduce yourself briefly.
Khundi Panda: I am Khundi Panda, I am 19 years old and live in Suwon. My real name is Bok Hyun and when I create artworks I use the name Veni Vidi. Nice to meet you!
Khundi Panda. It sounds cute but is also a nickname with character. How did you make it?
Back in the day, I made myself a fantasy world, and one of the characters living there was Khundi Panda. As it is a character I like a lot, I started using it as my nickname. It is a cool character.
Many people I know say that you’re good at rap. You are still young, when did you start and why?
To be exact, I think I started listening to rap music about five years ago. In second year of middle school while studying abroad, I was being bullied once. In that unhappy time, one of my really few friends sang Epik High’s ‘One’ for me at noraebang. In my difficult situation, those lyrics gave me strength, and from that day on I listened to all of Epik High’s songs and became more and more interested in Korean hiphop. That way, I started writing lyrics too, thought I needed a nickname so I chose one too, and I even made a crew together with friends who like rap and we did activities together. That is how I started [with hiphop].
It is possible that for the reason that you are young, your belief or the depth of your music might be looked down on. Has that ever happened to you?
That has definitely happened a few times. Especially after I uploaded the song to MC Meta on SoundCloud (of course there also were many people who stood by me). A not small number of people left comments like “You’re still wet behind the ears, you have no idea so stop acting up!” At other times, it scarcely happened that people who have never talked to me about music saw me as someone very shallow.
That is quite a possible thing to happen. You must have had many other difficulties with people who were biased against your age. Tell me about some of them.
Like I said just now, when I state my opinion, especially if it is about something that could cause a dispute, people respectlessly play it down on the grounds of “He’s still a kid” before even thinking about it. When that happens, then even though it seems like a perfectly normal conversation, from the other person’s point of view it’s like they are listening to complete nonsense. Even if that conversation ends and we arrive at a conclusion, it is like no conclusion has been reached at all. Even if I tell my opinion as objectively as possible, that person still sees me as immature because they are biased against my age. I have close to no other problems [with biases towards my age] besides this.
You are at an age where you can try many things, did your parents object [to you rapping]?
Actually, my parents are still against it. Nevertheless, I convinced them that I want to make music, so now they say, “Do what you want to do. We won’t bother anymore.” Still, they often tackle me when I’m about to do musical activities. I was contacted by someone who I have really been wanting to work with and there is something we absolutely have to talk about face to face, but they often keep me from going out so I still haven’t been able to meet that person.
“You may only do musical activites within the range of what we allow you to do, then we won’t care. But don’t try to escape that range,” kind of like this? (laughs) It is like they only gave me half-permission.
As you still are a high school student, you must have many time-wise constrictions. Is your school understanding?
At school, they have absolutely no understanding. I have to take the college entrance exam and go to college just like other students, so I always go to class. I even go to cram school. I have considerably less time to work on music. Even after this interview I have to do homework for cram school.
You seem like a tough exam learner … Have you decided to go to college?
Seeing as I don’t have any interest in college at all, I have not been able to decide yet. This has become a bit of a serious problem as I have to make a decision soon, but I don’t think it is a bad idea to decide based on my grades.
How is life at school? Since hiphop has become a trend lately, many of your classmates must be interested in it. Even I don’t remember my own life in high school very well, but if there is any funny episode from your school life, please tell me about it.
School life … to be honest, it is really boring. Since I spend the day at school rather quietly, I have close to never had a conversation amongst a lot of friends. And of course I eat alone too. But it is not that I don’t have friends. A few guys come and ask me about Show Me The Money or a rapper whose song they listened to, but that is … well, it is nothing pleasant for me. They ask me questions like “Is Black Nut good? Is Song Minho good?” about a program I am not interested in and don’t watch. The questions are ridiculous, so I just reply with “They’re all good.”
Also, I have entered my current high school in the second semester of the first year, so everyone had already made friends and probably also because I don’t live in the area, I just ended up by myself. Of course, I don’t try to get along with people of my own accord. I suppose that is because my interest in school has disappeared.
After the release of your last mixtape, I’d call the track ‘Stax Fliight’ your representative track as it has the highest number of plays on SoundCloud. Which other tracks of yours would you recommend?
You haven’t released any albums yet. Are you planning to?
Because I think that I am not well-known enough yet, instead of being pressured by monetary problems that come with making an album, I think that I need to release free music first. After I have become a bit more famous, I’ll probably release an album.
In the credits it says that you mix the songs yourself, how did you learn that?
I actually do the mixing a bit foolishly. I was in a crew called GANG ELLIOT before. The hyungs of that crew were all using the same equalizer settings at the time. They told me about them too, as well as a few tips for basic mixing. Afterwards I read up about mixing on my own. When I mix, I regularly use several external voice samples or other samples. I’m trying things like these especially often lately and strangely find it enjoyable.
You said you personally create artworks, have you ever learned photoshop or something about design?
I have never learned photoshop or anything else art- or design-related, I just thought that an album cover is needed for tracks as well, so I used the cellphone app ‘PicsArt’ to make covers. The more I did that, the greedier I got and read up about it a lot. I am still making album covers with ‘PicsArt’.
It seems like you’re promoting that app. (laughs)
Hahaha. You could see it that way.
You write a lot of verses. Do you tend to spend a lot of time on writing lyrics?
It doesn’t take me that much time. Longest, it takes me two hours.
There is a lot of English in your lyrics, have you studied abroad for a long time?
After the first semester of third grade in a Korean elementary school, I went to Shanghai in China where I studied for about eight years and a half. I also went to New Zealand during that time. I can speak both Chinese and English.
You recently dissed MC Meta. What did you not like about him?
As you can find out from the diss track’s lyrics, the biggest reason was that I first wanted to question MC Meta’s right to diss Show Me The Money. As far as I remember, Meta went on SMTM as producer in season one and two, and I think that he already profited from the program then. Even though the problems with Show Me The Money became more serious after its second season and Meta quit, he was a judge on season three’s successor Unpretty Rapstar and seemed to enjoy two female rappers battling each other on the show. Releasing a track called ‘Show Me The Hiphop’ in that situation looked ambivalent to me.
But MC Meta has contributed a lot to Korean hiphop and many rappers respect him. Therefore, what you did could put you in a bad position. With what kind of feelings did you diss Meta?
As a person who raps in Korea I am contributing to Korean hiphop, although only little, and of course I cannot ignore everything MC Meta has contributed to Korean hiphop. And I too have deeply felt something when listening to Garion’s lyrics before. However, their past acts being right does not justify the mistakes they are committing now. The reason why I think that this has to be addressed even clearlier is that if nobody expresses doubt about that, then all the Korean rappers are doing politics, just like TakeOne said. I wasn’t afraid.
I can imagine that you were criticized a lot after you released the diss track.
As the diss track was posted on quite a lot of Facebook pages, I saw many people’s comments. Those who were against my opinion said so much nonsense. It wasn’t logical and although I clearly wrote in my lyrics why my respect for Meta has disappeared, those people wrote: “Do you know the hiphop mind? Meta has done a lot, do you have the right to put that down? You’re not on that level.” In other words, it was no refutation of my track’s content. It’s not just that I cannot grab every single one of them and convince them, but also that the moment I read their comments I thought, “They will not understand.” They simply have deified Meta and found Khundi Panda, a rookie who came out of nowhere, disgusting. This is a problem I would like to address, you can call it “thoughtless deification of first-generation rappers.” According to them, BLUECHAN is the best and I am at the bottom of the bottom.
I did not decide that I had to express all of this in a diss track because I listened to TakeOne’s ‘Come Back Home’ and was inspired. Meta’s ‘Show Me The Hiphop’ came out a few days before ‘Come Back Home’ and dumbfoundead, I had already been preparing the [diss] track together with friends who also make music. Of course I mentioned TakeOne in the lyrics later because I found his attitude dope, but even without the ‘Come Back Home’ crisis, I would have definitely revealed that track. If someone says that I “took use of this time to diss Meta,” all I can say is that the time coincidentally overlapped [with the release of my diss track]. However, had I really wanted to make use of that crisis, I would have used Seo Taiji’s beat and I wouldn’t have released the track on the same days as Jo Woojin either, to have the spotlight all for myself. Nevertheless, since it is my fault that there even is a possibility of misunderstanding the whole thing, I do not feel too wronged if people do misunderstand.
What kind of music do you normally listen to? Which artist are you into recently?
I think I listen to Stonethrow Records and Brainfeeder’s artists the most. Also, I don’t listen to rap only, I listen to a lot of beat music. Albums I have recently listened to a lot are Jonwayne’s ‘Jonwayne is Retired EP’, Flying Lotus’ ‘1983’, Tokimonsta’s ‘Creature Dreams’. As for a national act, DSEL & Hipincase’s ‘Ready to 20blossom’. This album is really dope.
Which artist has influenced you the most?
It is difficult to choose one person. I like combinations, so as for my rapstyle I took a close look at Basick, Lil Boi, and Gganmo’s rapstyles. Yet, I don’t think that my music itself was influenced by their music. The style of my tracks was influenced a lot by Blu or Earl Sweatshirt’s music … I would like to release an album like Von’s ‘CREAM’ who was part of Salon 01 Crew before. I receive influence from quite a variety of people.
What kind of position will you take up in the scene in the future? I would like to hear your aspirations.
I’d like to make my style of music into a genre of its own later. So that in case someone makes similar music, people who hear it will naturally say, “Hey, this is Khundi music!” This is how big my aspiration is to establish my position with my very own characteristic music style.
Are you part of a team?
I’m part of a crew called Purpura Ethics and the team Dumbrain.
Please introduce each of them.
Purpura Ethics is an art team I’ve founded because I want to represent that characteristic music style I mentioned before. Its members do solo activities and what they want to do, but each work with the crew’s trademark contains Purpura’s very own style. Its members are the two producers Sec Paul and Limmernel, rappers Loathgold and Khundi Panda, and painter Duf Pablo. All are hidden monsters, and each of them has made plans to proof their competences. Do look forward to it.
Dumbrain is a one-producer-one-MC team made up of me and producer Brouharian. We decided to each do our own thing and then get together in 2016. Actually, our musical tendencies are so different at the moment that we don’t know if we will work together at that time, but because we are both convinced of the other’s skills I think that we will get active at exactly that time.
Do you have any plans to perform live?
Since I am preparing for the exam and nobody asks for me, I don’t think I will perform live anytime soon. However, I do like rapping at concerts so I am always inclined to go if anyone asks for me. Do call me.
I’m looking forward to what you will do next. Is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming plans?
I would like to make a mixtape out of the stories from my fantasy world. Of course, it will be stories which you can sufficiently understand even without knowing about it beforehand. The mixtape will probably come out this year around the middle of November or in December.
I also have a few works in the making with some fun hyungs, so look forward to those as well!
Last but not least, please say a few words to ROKHipHop’s readers.
I love you.
Video: Hello, I am Khundi Panda. I am the fourth guest of SCV’s Mineral Excavation Interviews. I believe that many of you might not know me very well, which I think is possible since I only became more famous with releasing that diss track. And this time, now that I have people’s attention with the diss track, is the most dangerous time for me, so please stay on the lookout for my new tracks, I will prove myself with them. Please look forward to them. Also, if you are curious about the rapper Khundi Panda, I think most questions should be answered with this interview, so do read it as it also is my first interview. I will release [another] mixtape later. Since I am preparing for the exam these days, I will probably not have any time for a while, but after the exam I will clearly do my best, so please wait and see. Show ROKHipHop a lot of love too! Thank you.
Interview by SCV
Translator’s note: a big shout-out to SCV for not only allowing me to translate his interviews, but also especially creating the English version of the banner which you see above, and even checking the finished translation! Also many thanks to ROKHIPHOP’s head who made all of this possible.