High School Rapper Recap: Episode 1

Episode 1 – February 10, 2017

For the past two weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of <Show Me the Money 5> reruns. I got my hopes up that this meant that Season 6 was coming out soon, but instead I guess it was to help promote this new show, <High School Rapper>. Oh well. 

It’s January 6, 2017. The regional preliminaries. 

The show starts with a cold open of the audition stage which looks like it’s taking place in a school auditorium. Haha calls for the next contestant. It’s Mr. Kim Hye-joon of Hyo Myeong High School – Year 1. Kim Hye-joon says she’s a girl, not a boy. Haha apologizes. Kim Hye-joon says she wrote about the stress that many of her peers face about their grades. 

It’s a cool beat, and Kim Hye-joon has a decent flow. The lyrics aren’t bad either. The judges are smiling. People are pressing buttons for what I guess is some kind of audience vote. All of a sudden, Kim Hye-joon chokes and forgets her lyrics. The audience cheers her on and she regains her composure. We then hear the judges talk about how they wanted to see the fresh, innocent charms of high school rappers.

Hm . . . I’m not sure I’m sold on this just yet. I’d rather watch a show based on actual talent than a bunch of cute kids.

The judges talk about how shocked they were at how many people auditioned. It looks like the auditions were divided into six regions. Western Seoul, Eastern Seoul, Western Gyeonggi Province, Eastern Gyeonggi Province, Gwangju & Jeolla Province, and Busan & Gyeongsang Province. 

The hosts Jeong Jun-ha and Haha introduce the show. They’re each standing in a different auditorium in front of a high school audience and panel of judges. The regional preliminaries will be judged according to a combination of audience votes (200 points) and judges scores (100 points). There are 20-25 rappers who’ve made it to the regional preliminaries, and today they will be picking the top nine rappers per region to move up to the next round. 

Episode one will focus on Jeong Jun-ha in Eastern Seoul and Haha in Western Gyeonggi Province. 

The judges for the Eastern Seoul preliminaries are Swings, Mad Clown, Jessi, and Deepflow. 

In Eastern Seoul, the first contestant is Kim Sun-woo from Hanlim Multi Art School – Year 1. This is a super prestigious school that’s famous for having a ton of famous idol graduates, so expectations are high. The audience cheers that he’s good looking. Kim Sun-woo says, “It hasn’t been long since I’ve started rap, but I came here to win.” Swings isn’t happy about that and says to the cameras, “He looks like a celebrity wannabe.” Jessi says to the cameras, “He looks like a trainee, an idol.”

He’s really good though. His flow is interesting, and the lyrics are pretty sophisticated. He’s got swag and even takes a selfie at the end of his rap. Swings says, “I was prejudiced against you, but I think I’ve seen some talent for the first time in a long time.” Jessie says to the cameras, “It’s a huge plus to have your own color. The first contestant had that.”

Kim Sun-woo gets 178 points out of a possible 300. This puts his at first place, which doesn’t mean much yet. Remember, only the top nine move on, but the ranks are going to change as more people audition. 

The next contestant is Bang Jae-min from Hanlim Multi Art School – Year 2. He says he was surprised at Just Music, Illionaire, and started rapping because of them. Bang Jae-min says, “Swings is the best!” He raps about how others are fake and he’s better than everyone else. It’s not terrible, but he sounds too tryhard. The audience likes it though. Jessi says, “I’m really shocked. He had good stage manner.” Mad Clown liked how he tapped on his mic. Bang Jae-min gets 213 points. He’s currently at first place, pushing Kim Sun-woo to second place. 

Next, we get a few clips from the Hongrakhee hip hop club at Sangmoon High School. They claim to be the first hip hop club in Korea. The writer asks if that’s a fact, and they’re like “Uh . . . well maybe it isn’t.” LOL.

The first rapper from the club is Bae Soo-yeol of Sangmoon High School – Year 3. He was the vice president of the 17th year of Hongrakhee. He has a bit of an old school feel, but then forgets his lyrics a few times. He also uses way too many difficult English words that he can’t pronounce properly. He tries to do an acapella rap at the end, but Jessi just sighs in disappointment. His club members are disappointed too.  He gets in fifth place. I’m not sure of the score. Bae Soo-yeol walks out of the auditorium, upset at himself, but he still wants to see how his junior classmates do. 

Next is a montage of more Hongrakhee hiphop club members forgetting their lyrics and messing up. Mad Clown says that a club is just for fun, so he didn’t have high expectations. The last one up from the club is Jo Min-wook of Sangmoon High School – Year 2. He has a good vocal tone. It’s an upbeat song about repping his crew and how he has swag. He’s pretty composed and even does a dance in the middle. Swings says he was very “real.” Deepflow says he gave him a perfect score. He gets 215 points which puts him in first place. 

We then go to Haha in Western Gyeonggi Province. Haha says this was the most competitive region with about 500 out of the approximately 2,000 applicants being from here.  The judges are Jang Dong-geun, Mad Clown, Jessi, and Swings. 

A few people have already done their audition, and we don’t get to see them all. I guess they must not have been very memorable. Kim Kyu-hyun is in first place. I don’t know who he is though, since <High School Rapper> didn’t show us his audition. The next contestant is 19 year old Shin Sang-ik from Ansan City. He has patches on his neck and hands covering up some tattoos. It’s illegal to tattoo minors, so it’s a pretty big deal for him to have them. Jang Dong-geun asks hesitantly, “I’m sorry, but can I ask? Your application says you quit school.” Shin Sang-ik replies, “I thought it’s best to do what you want and succeed in that area, so school isn’t necessary.” He auditioned for <Show Me the Money 5> and passed the first round of preliminaries. 

Shin Sang-ik raps about how he practices 24/7 and keeps going up and up. He kind of reminds me of a weaker version of Myundo. Swings says he was the best today. He seemed like real hip hop, not just rap in general. He gets 220 points which puts him in first place.

Next are four people from the High School Attached to the Educational College of Inha University. (btw I did not make that name up. It’s the official English name of the school.) Swings says he has high expectations because this is the school that BewhY, Cjamm, and Rhythm Power attended. 

The first student from that school, Lee Seung-hoon, says he doesn’t care about BewhY because he’s not trying to be the second BewhY. He’s going to be the second Eminem. Swings asks him to rap an Eminem song. He goes with “Lose Yourself” and sounds a bit childish, but Jessi sings along and makes it sound decent. Lee Seung-hoon is super cocky, but then takes out a piece of paper with his lyrics while he raps. His fellow classmates look down in embarrassment. He gets a score of 60 which means he’s eliminated. The next is Jeong Jin-woo and Lee Seung-kyu who are both pretty bad. Jessi notes that it’s a curse, when one classmate messes up, they all get nervous too.

The final student from that school is Kim Chan-soo. He says he started rapping because of his senior BewhY who came to their school festival last year. At first, everyone laughed at him and told him to stop being delusional about his BewhY dreams. Kim Chan-soo says that people tell him that the teenage years are the “Golden Years” so he should study, but he wants to spend it doing what he wants. The audience claps. Swings is like, “No, the Golden Years are your 30s. You still got a long way to go, you little rascal.” Kim Chan-soo starts his rap. He misses his beat and has to stop. He manages to recover though and raps about how he wants to be like his school seniors. 

It’s only been nine months since he started, so Mad Clown notes that he did well. Kim Chan-soo says he’s a fan of Swings. Swings calls him up on stage and gives him a hug. He gets 170 points which puts him in fourth place. His classmates are proud of him. 

Back to Eastern Seoul. Johnny of Lutheran High School – Grade 10 is up next. He’s from California, and came to Korea just for this show. We can some videos of his friends saying he’s a star, and it seems like he’s uploaded lots of videos on Youtube. Johnny Kwany is dressed in red sweater and red gloves. He says red represents his burning passion. Mad Clown thinks he’s so cute that he wants to carry him around in a pocket. Swings says real men wear red, and with that, Johnny Kwany takes out a red beanie and puts that on too.

He sounds so cute and has a lot of character. Swings is pissed though shaking his head throughout the whole performance, “Johny Kwony, you didn’t have any rhyme.” He gets 192 points. Swings shakes his head again. He’s in third place.  A lot of his peers are unhappy about that score. Jessi says to the camera, “He wasn’t good, and his flow was weird, but I could see his passion for music.”

Next, we have a battle between two girls. Jessi says she kept looking for some girl power. There were too many boys there, so it pissed her off. The two girls are Song Han-hee of Hanlim Arts School – Year 2 and Lee Ji-eun of Korea Art School – Year 1. Song Han-hee actually rapped the logo song for <High School Rapper>. Lee Ji-eun says that Han-hee may be prettier, but she’s a better rapper. Lee Ji-eun looks like Sohee from Wondergirls, while Song Han-hee claims to be Hanlim Art School’s Suzy. She even did a parody of Suzy’s Vita drink CF.

Song Han-hee chokes and forgets her lyrics way too many times. She barely raps any of her song. Lee Ji-eun shades her like, “She must not have practiced. If you practice a lot, you wouldn’t make such a big mistake.”

Mad Clown says, “You threw away almost all of your lines away. That was too much.” He tells the cameras that he’s angry at her for not taking this seriously. 

On the other hand, Lee Ji-eun says that there are a lot of people who dream of being celebrities or rappers, so people tell her she can’t do it, but she says there’s not rule saying she can’t. She raps about how she’s young and high class. She has a decent vocal tone. Jessi really likes her, and compares her to Yook Jidam. She gets third place with 194 points. 

Next up is Jang Yoon-joon of St.Paul Preparatory Seoul – Year 1. In his interview, he says that he doesn’t want to be here, but he needs the fame. He already knows he’s talented, so he doesn’t feel like he needs to prove himself.

He asks the audience, “Are you having fun?” Audience, “Yes!” He responds, “Liars. I don’t think you’re having fun.” He then tells the cameras that it was so boring watching so many people mess up. He then raps about how no one can touch him as he works hard. He’s got a pretty catchy hook with “I don’t do with you.” The girls seem to like him because he’s so good looking.

Swings asks, “How old are you?” Jang Yoon-joon, “I’m 18 years old this year.” Swings says, “You were the most impressive so far. Do you have an agency?” Jang Yoon-joon replies, “No.” Swings says, “Let’s talk.” Jang Yoon-joon drops his I’m too cool for this act, and almost cries in happiness. Swings tells the cameras that he liked Jang Yoon-joon a lot because he knows what’s cool. He gets third place with 211 points. Jang Yoon-joon doesn’t seem happy about the score though. Jang Yoon-joon says, “My pride is hurt. I came here to be in first place.” 

Jeong Jun-ha asks who he wants to battle. Jang Yoon-joon says, “MC Gree.”

The last contestant in Eastern Seoul is Kim Seon-jae of Seoul Sejong High School  – Year 3. He has a high concept beat. He’s good. He has good flow. Everyone cheers. Mad Clown says he gave him the highest score because he was so flexible with his rhythm. Mad Clown tells the cameras that he was the best. He gets 223 points which puts him in first place. 

The nine finalists for Eastern Seoul are

  1. Kim Seon-jae
  2. Park Jae-min
  3. Jang Yong-joon
  4. Lee Ji-eun
  5. Johnny Kwony
  6. Kim Sang-min
  7. Kim Seon-woo
  8. Park Eo-jin
  9. Seong Shi-heon

Back in Western Gyeonggi Province. Haha calls for the next contestant, Kang Hyeon-woo of Ansan Design Culture High School – Year 2. Mad Clown notes that he heard he was negative towards MC Gree (Kim Gura’s son). Um . . . way to start unnecessary drama, Mad Clown. Back during stage one auditions, Kang Hyeon-woo asked MC Gree to shake hands and then laughed at him. Haha asks Kang Hyeon-woo who he thinks is better. He says that he himself is better. MC Gree glares. Kang Hyeon-woo raps about making the best of his “dirt spoon,” (working class situation) but forgets his lyrics. Swings says, “If you’re going to diss MC Gree about his dad, you need to do better than that. ” Kang Hyeon-woo explains “I wasn’t mad at him, I just wished that I had that kind of father too because MC Gree gets to be a celebrity so easily.” 

MC Gree aka Kim Dong-hyeon (Kim Gura’s son) is up next, and everyone cheers when his name is called. He’s feeling confident. He’s from Pungmu High School – Year 3. There’s a montage of all people putting him down calling him a parachute and dad’s help. 

MC Gree says he knows a lot of his peers hate him, so he came on this show to prove himself. Swings is like, “OOOH lets do it.” MC Gree then asks to drink water. It seems like he’s nervous? He sounds okay but forgets his lyrics near the end. The girls still cheer for him. Swings says, “You were really good in the beginning and middle, but the end was lacking.” Mad Clown says, “You messed up but you seemed experienced. ” There’s a montage of multiple peers saying he’s a lot better than expected, and just a couple saying he wasn’t all that. Why is he getting the good edit? What’s his score? We’ll find out after a commercial break. His score is ??? What? You made me sit through a commercial break and I still don’t find out?

So far, I’m liking this show. I think the problem with shows like <Tribe of Hip Hop> is that the contestants on that show weren’t actually dreaming of being rappers. They wanted to be on TV, and rapping just happened to be their medium. But with <High School Rapper> you can feel how genuine most of the contestants are about their music, and that passion is what makes the show worth watching.

I was also worried that Haha and Jeong Jun-ha would make the show too cheesy, but it seems like they both play a pretty limited role, so I’m happy to see that the actual rappers like Swings and Mad Clown are getting the focus. 

Next Week: I guess we find out MC Gree’s score and more preliminaries. 

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