That First SMILE (Week 1 – 2015)

It’s officially the new year, which means it’s also officially time to start SMILE-ing… see what I did there hehe ^.~ Let’s get started!

First up, a hard hitting metal song to get things started off right! This is Amaranthe‘s Drop Dead Cynical (lyrics). They’re a Swedish-Danish metal band, but this song is in English. Also, this group has three, yes THREE, lead singers and they all showcase different vocal styles – melding together into an amazing piece of music. And, while I’m usually not a fan of gruff heavy metal male vocals (cause it just sounds like angry gibberish most of the time – sorry), I was surprised with this because Henrik Englund’s vocals here were gruff but still clear. Enjoy!

Moving in a completely different direction for song number two (remember to clear your palates!!), here’s Mark Ronson‘s Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars (lyrics). The beat of this song, the vocals, the classy music video… everything about this song is just jazzy and smooth. Enjoy!

Song number three carries an excellent message in times of change: slow down! Here’s Kwabs‘ Walk (lyrics). This is the UK artist’s third song (all released in 2014), and he is now working on a full album. I, personally, can’t wait because his voice is very strong and the music for this is superb – they go together so well!! Enjoy!

To end this first SMILE, I’m going to showcase a short rap that also cares a strong message. Now, this particular piece of music comes with a rather long and complicated back story (below, if you care to read it), but it really helps to explain the message of the piece: a lesson on respect over arrogance. Here’s Ravi‘s Diss Hater (lyrics below)(Korean)(Warning: Strong Language).

Lyrics: (translations can always vary in small ways, but this is basically correct)
That’s right I’m an idol
But you’re also a fucking idol
To others we’re the same
So lets stop this pretending and stop this disgusting diss battle, right?
I admit that I’m the rapper of the boy group with the clock dance
But I’m not tone deaf little brother
I left my house and hustle every night too
Yeah I’m envious, holding the Show Me trophy at 20 years old
And a career chewing up the Melon charts
All of that still pre-debut
You say it like a habit, just hate on Bobby
But I don’t give a fuck
I don’t want to fight
We’re all the same, you, me, him, her, all idols
If you’re a little better and scribble a bit with a pen does that make you more real?
That’s no no
We’re different u know
Yeah it’s easy to kill hip-hop
But we’re not the culprits, what I mean shit

The back story: (I’ll try to focus on the basics because there’s a lot of confusion attached to this.) It all started with Mnet’s “Show Me the Money 3” (like a Korean ‘American Idol’ for rappers, I suppose – I’ve never watched it). The winner, Bobby, said some things in his lyrics that some took as a subtle diss of Ravi and Vixx (the group he raps for): “You guys have a long way to go. Boy group rappers come on stage with a clock dance. If you’re tone deaf, go practice.” Fans linked this to Vixx due to their song, Eternity, which was also being promoted around the same time. Bobby has also been linked to other subtle disses, including Rap Monster of BTS and Boyfriend. Unlike Ravi’s response above, Rap Monster is believed to have subtly responded through a screenshot of Verbal Jint‘s lyrics: “With that kind of skill how did you dare think to mess with me?” And, that’s the trouble with all this – it’s all subtle.

Korean Hip-Hop is not like American Hip-Hop. In American Hip-Hop, rappers will straight up call people out with slander and hateful lyrics. In Korea, that really isn’t going to happen in the mainstream (I don’t know about the underground though). Korea is more passive-aggressive, so subtle dissing is pretty much the best you’re going to get, which is where the confusion comes in. Another thing you need to know about Korean culture is that you do not disrespect those who are older than you. The first thing a Korean will ask you is your age because they have to use the proper terms to address you or they will be ‘shamed’ in the eyes of others. It’s a big deal. Had Bobby come out and named names, talking down about those older than him and those who had debuted before him, it would have been very detrimental to his career – hence, subtly. In Ravi’s case, however, even though he called out Bobby by name, he never said anything disrespectful, going so far as to say he doesn’t want to fight with him even though Bobby had invited everyone to do so in Epik High‘s Born Hater. Ravi also repeated something Bobby himself has said in the past: “we’re all idol rappers”, calling attention to the fact that Bobby is now acting arrogant of that statement and that he is ‘dissing idol rappers’ when he is, in fact, one himself.

Anyhow, some time after the show ended, people started talking about how it was a diss to Vixx while others said it was only directed at his competition on the show or a broad-based diss of ‘idol rappers’ (implying that all idol rappers are just guys given the title of “rapper” within their groups because they couldn’t sing – as opposed to ‘real’ rappers). So, yeah… there may or may not be some sort of diss war going on (it’s complicated, and this is the ‘short version’). Either way, Ravi took the time to response. This move ignited an even bigger controversy with some laughing at Ravi ‘getting hurt when it wasn’t even about him’ and others praising him for giving Bobby a ‘lesson on life like a gentleman’ (a direct quote from a commenter). That last bit, ladies and gentlemen, is the keystone. Bobby was clearly dissing… someone. Ravi, on the other hand, figuratively took Bobby by the shoulder and said, “Come on man, don’t do that. You should know better.” It’s sort of like Eminem telling 50 Cent not to go after Ja Rule, just more… ‘Korean’ lol

Got an idea for a future SMILE? Leave it in the comments below!

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