The following is Hiphopplaya’s commentary interview with Chamane, the 20 year old rapper who entered the Korean hip hop scene via Show me the Money Season 3. Since then, Chamane has established his own label, ‘GVOY’, and released his first official album: .
Hiphopplaya (hereafter HP): Please introduce yourself.
Chamane (hereafter C): I’m Chamane. It’s nice to meet you.
HP: You established GVOY with Jay Moon. What was the inspiration behind the bold move?
C: Jay Moon, Primeboi, an older female who managed practicalities, and I created the label– there were a lot of people who thought was a bold move. While participating on Show me the Money, I quickly learned that I needed people for myself. Of course, even before I went on the show, I had wanted my own environment. Those thoughts merely became solidified as I participated on the show.
HP: Are there only three musicians in GVOY then?
C: Currently Jay Moon, Primeboi, and I are the only members of GVOY. We are in contact with other people, and if we meet eye to eye, we are thinking of working together with them.
HP: We heard that Chamane is the head of the label. Did you suggest making the label?
C: No. There was nobody who had first thought of making a label. We all had the same thoughts. At the time, I was looking for people to connect with– Show me the Money allowed me to extend my network, and I met people who had alike thoughts. We started with the mentality of “Let’s try this, there’s nothing we can’t do!” I’m proud to say that I think we’ve made great systematic progress.
HP: Is that Chamane’s skill? (laughter)
C: I have to say that rather than my skills, it was the efforts of the older female and Primeboi who work together with me. Primeboi has the knack for great visions and the older female is really good with processing the work.
HP: Before we talk about Show me the Money, we’re curious about Chamane’s activity before the show.
C: There’s not much that I can say about my previous activity. It all started in my first year of middle school when I made fun of a friend who had come from America for not being able to use chopsticks (laughter). We became close friends since then, and after listening to the music he did, I fell in love with hip hop.
HP: Isn’t it an important time for you in terms of career choice? Did you face any disapproval? Hearing “Through the Window,” I could sense your concerns.
C: When I made the choice to pursue music, of course there was a lot of objection. Since I was in my third year of high school, my parents were against it. I momentarily thought about giving it up, but I think Show me the Money has become a significant starting point for me. Before I went on Show me the Money, my grandmother thought I wanted to be a vocalist, since I was always muttering behind my closed door (laughter).
HP: What made you audition for Show me the Money?
C: Honestly, I didn’t have any intentions to participate in the show even through the morning of auditions. However, there were members of the crew I was at the time active in, who said they were going on Show me the Money. I lightheartedly went to show my support. I then thought that I might as well sign up since I was there. I rapped, and I had unexpectedly passed.
HP: You should be thankful to them (laughter)
C: I should be thankful to those older male members of the crew, and I am thankful to The Quiett.
HP: In your case, you seemed to have gained a lot through Show me the Money. What’s it like looking back on the experience?
C: I have only gained things through the show. It wasn’t even like I was tied down somewhere at the time. I really just made an impulsive decision to audition and unexpectedly passed. I guess it’s because I started without much that I have only gained things from being on the show.
HP: Did you have any complaints while participating in Show me the Money Season 3?
C: If anything, it was that we were called to film too early? I’m still a student, yet I was called at 7AM and was allowed to leave 6AM the next day. I was always late to school.
HP: What was the best part about Show me the Money?
C: I liked that I got to know people, and I feel that I have achieved the dream I had since I was younger. I longed to make my own label. The label would have me, a personal composer, an A&R team, and a person who would be responsible for the artwork. I had dreamed of that kind of environment since I was younger, and I think that dream has been satisfied through the broadcast.
HP: (laughter) The moment you were eliminated, you shed tears while looking at Dok2…
C: We worked hard together for two months and have become fond of each other. If you look at it one way, they both prepared everything for me. I was very upset and sorry that I wasn’t able to achieve good results, so when I looked at them, my eyes just reacted (laughter).
HP: I would think that a lot has changed after the broadcast.
C: I go to Hongdae for group practice, and there are people who recognize and greet me while I’m walking through the streets. I was very flustered and awkward at first (laughter).
HP: Looking at Primeboi’s album notes, it seems your album was already completed earlier this year. Is there a reason for giving up the prime time to release your album after Show me the Money?
C: There is no specific reason. As I’ve written in my album notes, I had completed all the tracks between January and March earlier this year. But after completing everything, I felt that I could do better, and wanted to perfect it. So for the remaining 7 months, I worked with Primeboi to create better music. We crazily focused on arrangements and honed the rap. Ultimately, the album went from 7-8 tracks originally, to 12 tracks. I was also able to get better people to feature in my songs.
HP: Did a lot change from the original direction the album was taking?
C: It has changed a lot. Whether it’s the beats or the rap. Primeboi’s skills were always good, but I think he grew a lot through that time to the point that it’s actually scary.
HP: What kind of a producer is Primeboi in the eyes of Chamane?
C: Primeboi is a producer who absorbs things very quickly. He’s working with other popular musicians now, but when we went to have The Quiett listen to my album, The Quiett said that he liked Primeboi’s beats. Primeboi even worked with The Quiett afterwards. He’s currently working with famous people not just affiliated with hip hop. I think he will be able to release surprising works either this winter or the beginning of next year. Primeboi is, of course, good news for us.
HP: Seeing your response, I can sense your loyalty to Illionaire. I can also sense the influence of Illionaire in some of the songs on your album. What kind of influence did you receive from them, and how was it like working with them?
C: They are the best. I never had the chance to meet other MCs until I participated on the show. After meeting many rappers in person, my fantasy regarding them had been shattered.
Before, I had listened to the music of many people. When I actually met the musicians behind the music, I ended up limiting what I listened to. There were many people who were very contradictory. Even if not everyone was like this, many musicians have shattered my imaginations. However, Illionaire members remain uniquely within my fantasy.
HP: The Illionaire mindset must have naturally permeated through you. For example, your 2nd track ‘Money On My Mind’ seemed to be too desolate for a young man who just turned 20 years old (laughter).
C: That can’t be helped (laughter) because I don’t listen to much Korean music outside of Illionaire.
Although I can’t deny the influence of Illionaire on that song, I think it was my environment that made me desolate. I had received that kind of negative energy since I was a child. I had thoughts like “Why is our family not rich?” Although those may be unfitting thoughts for my age, I merely showed what I already had. This album just shows my story. For ‘Money On My Mind’, my parents were against my pursuit of music not because it wouldn’t be financially rewarding, but because they couldn’t support me financially. They wanted me to pursue a career within the means of their assistance, and I thought all of that was about money. However, everything has changed after meeting Illionaire. I can proudly say that I am the positivist king (laughter).
HP: Just seeing the name GVOY, I can sense the label’s motto.
C: GVOY stands for ‘Good Vibe on You’. Just as they (Illionaire) have given us good vibes, we want to give off positive energy to our current and future fans.
HP: It’s said that you don’t listen to music besides that of Illionaire’s. Do you not listen to Korean hip hop?
C: I used to listen to Korean hip hop a lot, but right now I don’t think I even listen to 10 artists. I can even name all of the artists I listen to. Illionaire, Giriboy, Crucial Star, Jay Moon, and Verbal Jint– I listen to the music of these artists the most. Even in regards to overseas hip hop, I only listen to what I like. I like the comfortable vibes that Fabolus, Jay-Z, The Game, Wale, and Rick Ross give off. Just like the most recent album from The Quiett. For that album, I set an alarm for the release date. As soon as it was released at 12 am, I listened to it.
HP: On one hand, having well-known artists feature like Illionaire may undermine Chamane’s capability.
C: I don’t concern myself with that (laughter). Everyone worked hard on this album’s tracks– I don’t think who did well and who didn’t is that important. It’s more important that we worked together to make good music.
HP: There were two songs in your album about a breakup with a girlfriend. Did you have a significant experience?
C: Whether or not it’s significant, I write lyrics if something inspires me. Also, when I send the lyrics to my colleagues and they say that it stinks, I throw them away. If the response is good, I keep writing. That’s what happened with those two songs. I like those songs too, but others like it particularly more (laughter).
HP: Do you have a favorite track?
C: ‘Money on my Mind’, and ‘Small Giant’. For the ‘Small Giant’, I came home after working and after seeing my sleeping parents, I wrote lyrics following that vibe.
HP: Just by looking at your album notes, it’s obvious that you worked closely with Primeboi for your album. What was it like working on 1mc 1prod?
C: It was obviously great to have a producer for myself (laughter). Completing the album was really a smooth process. I think we’ll continue to work like this in the future as well. Jay Moon’s official album is scheduled to be released in the first half of next year. There are many tracks within that album that Primeboi worked on. There’s something about Jay Moon and Primeboi. Jay Moon in particular, is special musically.
HP: I know that Chamane is already working on his next album. The amount of work must be tremendous.
C: I’m not the type of person to prepare a plan and act on it. It’s part of my daily life to work and sleep, then work again. I just release an album when I have enough tracks.
HP: What about work?
C: I’ve been consistently doing construction work. This album was funded by the money I earned through part time work. It’s a great job because my health improved and my schedule was flexible. I honestly recommend this work to all rappers.
HP: (Laughter) It’s amazing that you are still able to produce such works.
C: Since I don’t have much else to do… I’m not the kind of person to keep a lot of friends, and the people I work with become my friends… For me, I have fun when I am communicating with my workmates at work.
HP: Do you have any planned activities regarding your album? Like a showcase?
C: I will showcase my songs live for the first time at a concert on November 21st.
HP: Lastly, is there anybody you want to work with for your next album?
C: There are many people. Right now, I really want to work with Verbal Jint since I am heavily influenced by him. I also would like to work with Bumkey, Crush, DEAN, etc…
HP: We will look forward to your next album as well. Thank you for accepting the interview (laughter).
Interview by HIPHOPPLAYA