6:23 pm - 01/30/2015
[EXCLUSIVE] A beginner's primer to the ladies of Unpretty Rapstar!
Are you unable to look away from the trainwreck that is Unpretty Rapstar, and want to know more about the cast? Perhaps you're looking to expand your music horizons and discover some new female artists? Or maybe like me you just think Cheetah's really hot??? You're in luck. I've personally trawled through hours of low quality mid-2000s Youtube videos to put together this modest guide to the ladies of Mnet's newest hip hop survival show.
NOTE: All the links in this post open in a new window so you can listen while reading!! :-)
Tymee (formerly E.via) is probably the most well-known rapper from this list and touted as the fastest female rapper in Korea. Her first pseudonym was NAPPER, under which she released three demos: NAPPER, N★PPER and Unfliable Bird Respect Thy Self. After her third demo she was noticed and picked up by Dline Art Media and started working with them under the name E.via and a super cute aegyo-fied persona. She would release her most successful albums under them: E.via a.k.a happy e.vil (2009), Motiphie Meets E.via! (2009), Must Have (2010), Viapolar (2010), and E.viagradation Part 1 Black and Red (2012). Unfortunately she had a falling out with her company over them failing to pay her a la Block B and she signed with Outsider's label, changing her stage name to Tymee, under which she's released a single... and not much else.
Tymee's infamous for her sexual lyrics (all the songs from her debut album were banned from broadcast), but her most well known hits - Shake! and Oppa Can I Do It? - don't really do justice to how versatile she is. She's done some really soft mellow songs, like Diary, which sounds easily like it could belong to some cutesy kpop group; dark 'gothic' songs, like anything from E.viagradation; and most recently as Tymee she's made more palatable poppy music like Rising Star.
Other stuff: Her favourite musicians are Nas, Eminem, UMC and Deegie. She's one of 4 rappers on Unpretty Rapstar to have previously been on Show Me the Money. She's known to have a public feud with Jolly V and she released a diss track aimed at her called FROM. YOUR BITCH. Tymee was also part of the huge Control diss of 2013 (listen here). Her disses are eh and rely a lot on body/slut shaming of other girls, which seems par for the course for women in the business but still kind of sucks.
Official links: Twitter / Instagram / Facebook
- 밤에 피는 장미 (Feat. 배켱) - from E.viagradation
- My medicine - She switches between her 'personas' of Napper and E.via here, with her Napper voice showcasing how she raps when she's not doing the whole high pitched aegyo thing
- this video of her performing Fuck You live
Jolly V is a well known MC in the k-hiphop underground. She's originally from the States but moved to SK for college and stayed (she's actually done the bulk of her releases while going to school). She dropped her EP album, J.O.L.L.Y.V. in 2012 and had her first solo concert in 2014. She has a super recognizable husky voice, solid flow and just a really adorable and positive personality overall. Jolly V's also the only truly bilingual rapper on the show besides Jessi, being fluent in English which explains why she was trying not to crack up throughout Jessi's 'freestyle'.
What else? She did diss Tymee and seemingly a lot of other female MCs in a track called Bad Bitches. Jolly V has done a few interviews in English where she's talked about what hip hop means to her and what it's like to be a female rapper in Korea (check one out here, another here). She has a lot to say about the unique struggles of being a female MC, but she's also slung some pretty nasty, misogynistic insults at other ladies, so it doesn't seem that she puts her money where her mouth is. Her dream is to work with Lauryn Hill, Eve, Nas, or Missy Elliott.
Also, it's worth mentioning that Jolly V is super generous and sweet to her international fans. She links to free downloads of her mixtapes on her official Youtube and Soundcloud, which you should totally check out.
Official links: Twitter / Youtube / Soundcloud
- Cigarette - chill triphop (also a free DL!)
- this really fun performance of Yes! Yes! Yo! at her first solo concert
- Lover - a sickeningly sweet love song and a taste of her English rapping
Cheetah is a rapper signed to Wealive Records. She's been street performing since she dropped out of high school. In 2007 while she was preparing to get her GED she was hit by a bus, which resulted in a life-threatening brain surgery and her being hospitalized for over a year. She suffers from PTSD, depression and insomnia after this traumatic event, but also states that this incident is what has given her her drive to succeed and "live with no regrets". Cheetah made her official debut as a member of hip hop duo Blacklist in 2010, claiming that her and fellow member Lucy aspired to be the 2nd Tashannie. Blacklist only ever released 2 songs, Stop (which got promoted on music shows) and Nothing Lasts Forever.
After Blacklist went the way of most rookies and faded into oblivion, Cheetah made a few miscellanous solo appearances (like on SMTM). In 2012 she formed another hip hop duo with Crush called Masterpiece and together they promoted a single, Rollercoaster (thanks karmin90 for the tip!). She finally released her 1st EP, CHEETAH ITSELF in 2014 (available on iTunes!). Less than 10 minutes in length, it's worth listening to the whole thing to get a taste of her trademark confident flow. She's still a little rough, but out of the entire cast seems to be the most consistently quality.
Her internet presence is still small and there's not a lot of info out there on her. However, her Twitter notes that she really likes cats.
Official links: Twitter
Kisum is another rapper who's been brought back from Show Me the Money 3. Like Tymee and Jidam, she also messed up and forgot her lyrics on the show, and got some harsh criticism from Tablo for caring too much about her looks (bullshit imo). She's signed to Mapps Town. She's released all her music to date under them, collaborating with labelmate Se-a to release some sappy singles like First Love and Liar.
She released her debut mini album, Like It in 2014. The title track was about a shy girl who keeps trying to hint to the guy she likes to make a move because she can't tell him herself (but can apparently write a rap about it). The usual. She seems to be going for a fresh/pretty image, and while she doesn't force any unnatural cuteness out of her voice it's nothing special. I can see the appeal, though; her music is public friendly and accessible to non-hip hop fans. If you like kpop you'd probably like her.
Kisum's 'pretty face' is her blessing and curse, apparently. Both on SMTM and Unpretty Rapstar she's faced criticism for being too concerned with her appearance over her talent. However she's also been picked as a brand ambassador and done magazine pictorials, so get money? It'll be interesting to see if she can keep a clean image while trying to break into hip hop.
Official links: Facebook
- Put It Down ft. Min Hoon Ki - digital single, also on her first album
- street performance of Did It On Em - something about this song choice and her outfit and the old people in the crowd is killing me
- video of her performing Payday live
Jimin has the dubious distinction of being the only idol rapper on the show. If you don't already know, she is the pint sized leader, guitarist and main rapper of girl group AOA. Less well known is that she actually does have a decent amount of writing cred (in comparison to other idols). She's been writing her own lines from debut (Temptation was her first self-written rap and her favourite). Out of AOA she's apparently the first member to actually get paid due to having writing credits on songs like Moya. She was taught by Sleepy of Untouchable, and he's praised her and called her rap style 'cute'. According to the other members she raps 'even in her sleep'... take that as you will.
Her trademark is her nasally chipmunk voice and super fast flow, a technique that people tend to either love or hate. Her natural speaking voice is high pitched so it's hard to avoid, but there's at least a couple of songs, usually AOA's downtempo ones, where she ditches the cartoon character impression and sounds normal.
Anything else notable? Not really. Despite mentioning liking hip hop on the show and clearly being interested in writing rap lyrics, she's never mentioned any hip hop artists she admires. Nor has she done any rap solos. But hey, she's perfectly fine for an idol and probably the least messy person on this list.
Official links: AOA Twitter / AOA Facebook / AOA Youtube
- this live performance of something for a future Unpretty Rapstar episode
- Soulmate - a more mellow rap from Jimin
- Temptation - her first and favourite rap (and my fave of hers as well)
Yuk Ji Dam's the baby of the show. She was trained by Heo In Chang, who previously was on SMTM season 2. She was in high school when she made her appearance on season 3 of Show Me the Money last summer and she made sure you knew it, wearing her school uniform for performances. She was kind of cringeworthy in this show, forgetting her lines in one part (to be fair, so did Tymee on her appearance) but still being saved from elimination. Her claim to fame is being Tablo's personal favourite.
A scandal surfaced around the time of her appearance on SMTM alleging she was an iljin who drank and smoked, swore at teachers, and beat up fellow students. It wasn't ever conclusively proved to be true or untrue either way, but her reputation tanked and she has the eternal ire of netizens. So she'll probably be signed to YG soon.
Because she's young and only performed on SMTM, there's not much out there of hers to pimp. However considering that Mnet is so infatuated with her I seriously think she's either an idol trainee or found a coach that's really invested in pushing her.
- Ulleri - from SMTM3
- this video of her performing on SMTM3 in her school uniform
- teaser of her rap battle with Jimin
Jessi (or Jessi Ho or Jessica H.O., whatever, it changes depending on when and where you look) is a Korean-American who's actually been in the k-entertainment business since 2005. Her career has had...ups and downs, to put it lightly. More downs than ups to put it accurately. She debuted first as a member of co-ed group Uptown, then tried to go solo with Get Up and Life is Good, but nothing stuck. She's currently signed to YMC Entertainment (Ailee's company) and active as a member of hip hop trio Lucky J.
Admittedly she's hot, a decent dancer, and a fantastic singer... but she's too polarizing a personality to really hit upon any lasting fame. No one on the show likes her. And her rapping is basic at best. She shouts a lot and imo relies on English in hopes that no one will realize how shit her lyrics actually are. A perfect example is this attempt at a freestyle in episode 1.
TBQH, more well known than anything she's released over the span of her career is the scandal she got into 10 years ago back when she was friends with SNSD's Tiffany on Myspace. There are screencaps showing her dissing the future SNSD as a 'gay group', using the n word liberally, calling Daniel Henney a f*g, and insulting BoA. Receipts. If that weren't enough, she also supposedly assaulted a woman at a brawl in a night club in 2013. She was never charged but it didn't help her reputation.
Bonus: possibly the lowest point of her career?
Official links: Instagram
- her rap in this performance of Bang Bang - terrible example of her skills imo but a lot of people loved this
- How Much is Your Love - Wheesung and Bumkey ft. Jessi
- this fanmade compilation of her rap verses over the years
Lil Cham is an MC signed to FACTORY BOi Production. She debuted in 2012 with a single, Come to My Room - no extra guesses allowed on what it's about. Her first full album, CHAM Vol 1, dropped in 2014. Unfortunately Lil Cham's victim to doing that annoying thing where she markets herself really hard as a 'bad bitch' and it just falls flat on its face. But what she truly excels at are unabashed provocative lyrics, exemplified in her verse from Why So Serious: "My lyrics are constantly rife with dirty jokes, / making men feel flustered is my fetish ... You're probably a little flustered, your standard size is teeny-weeny, / Little Cham is giving a little trauma to the serious you."
Despite her lackluster performance in Unpretty Rapstar's 100sec cypher, she has great flow. She does do that nasally high pitched voice thing but it works in most of her songs, and then there are some where she takes it too far. One of her strengths is that - at least since being signed to FACTORY BOi - throughout her various singles, features and solo album, she has a cohesive sound. In some songs she reminds me of Cassie Ventura in how she lets her vocals be the focus of her songs on top of minimalist beats.
My opinion on her can be summed up with when she's bad she's really bad, but when she's good she's really good. Personally speaking I think if she recovers from flopping their first mission or whatever she has the potential to be the dark horse of the competition.
Official links: Twitter
- All ft. Jijark - upbeat, poppy, good
- Muse - mellow, sexy track; perfect example of her 'drawl' style of flow
- Ride ft. San E, CJ - another good song about sex (what else)
SOURCES: tymee || tymeenetwork, soundcloud: tymee, youtube: KOREAN PRIDE, iKpopVideoHQseason4, TwirlyBox, ASSACOMZ, Babo Park, IzayaSasuke, 박대남 / jolly v || beyondhallyu, hallyu uk, soundcloud: officialslsd, youtube: Libbie Lee, ATEAMUSIC / cheetah || mardi09, youtube: MBCkpop, ARIRANG KPOP, 이영근, wealivetv, insiteTV, thefuckbmw / kisum || youtube: mapptown 1 2 3 4, Hul Kpop, 수원촌놈 / jimin || aceofangels8, youtube: AOA (에이오에이), sam K, Lchangese mel, thepsjhkiki / yuk ji dam || netizenbuzz, youtube: 내가 좋아하는 뮤직박스, 이정희, _AOA_ / jessi || asianjunkie, youtube: MBCkpop 1 2 3, Unpretty Rapstar, MBCentertainment, kt music, nana lala / lil cham || translatedkhiphoplyrics, youtube: FACTORY BOi PRODUCTION 1 2, Blueberry-G2, Hul Kpop, K-PopStarMusic A1, soundcloud: bonnie-pa
i hope you guys like this post! im always here for female MCs but i know they can be problematic af, i tried to include anything shady i could find so yall can make Informed Stanning Decisions™. after writing this i think most of these girls are genuinely talented and the writing/editing/low production value of this show is just not doing them any favours. i hope they stop pushing the catfight aspect of the show bc these women deserve better.
edit: fixed links