Why You Should Watch Korea’s Hip-Hop TV Contest ‘Show Me The Money’

Tony Kim
Jul 09,2014
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by TONY KIM

During the summer in2012, Korea’s popular music channel Mnet premiered an unprecedented survival music program centered solely on hip-hop, titled “Show Me The Money.” At this point, the nation was overwhelmed with the sheer number of reality TV contests, mostly in response to the unprecedented success of “Superstar K.” Mnet’s “The Voice,” SBS’ K-Pop Star and MBC’s Birth of a Great Star only spurred even more survival programs to form around other talents like acting (SBS’ Miraculous Audition) and even news reporting (MBC’s Announcer Public Hiring).

Amid the swarm of survival TV shows, Mnet made the logical move to create “Show Me the Money,” South Korea’s only survival TV show for hip-hop artists. The show contains the same inspirational, sob stories that inevitably comes with every survival audition program, but with a hint of a hip-hop flavor, like trash-talking among contestants.

The show also won plaudits for giving spotlight to Korea’s underground rappers, making artists like Mad Clown and TakeOne.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of “Show Me The Money” is that the format changes drastically from season to season. The trash-talking isn’t limited to contestants as made evident by Season 3’s five-minute introduction in which mainstream rappers proceed to tear the show’s previous seasons apart.

Season 1 paired veteran rappers like MC Sniper and Garion with contestants, many of whom were underground or amateur rappers, to form teams to compete against each other. Season 2, meanwhile, pitted two hip-hop crews against each other. Each crew of underground and amateur rappers selected two prominent rappers.

The specifics of the format for Season 3, which premiered last Thursday, has yet to be unveiled, but we do know that four teams, currently led by one or two rap producers, will have the opportunity to add contestants to their teams. The first team consists of Illionaire Record’s The Quiett and Dok2, the second is led by Just Brand New’s San E and Swings, the third has YG’s Tablo and Masta Wu and the last team has YDG.

Check out some of this writer’s favorite performances from previous seasons.

Jindogae’s Second Round Rap Collab – Jindogae (the Korean Jindo), who was serving in the military at the time, surprised judges from the first round with his unique tone and “drunken flow.” Though he messes up in this clip, this short rap segment was definitely a sign of how far this talented amateur artist would go in the competition.

MC Sniper and TakeOne’s Sunset Glow (Feat. Kim Jisoo) – Remixing one of Korea’s most popular summer songs, MC Sniper added a reggae tone along with his undying stage presence. TakeOne, arguably the most skilled rap contestant in this season, also shows why he was so successful as an underground artist.

Double K and Loco’s Home (Feat. Jinsil) – This is definitely the most emotional performance out of both seasons. Each line is heartfelt and the unexpected climax may even bring some people to tears.

Swings’ No Mercy+Buffalo 2012 – This uncut version contains profanities and anger. Swings shows why he’s known as the rap monster and his raw emotions (mostly anger) definitely shows in this performance.

Soul Dive’s 0th Place – Soul Dive, handpicked by MC Meta for season 2, performs one of his most iconic songs. The performance, which literally brings the crowd to the stage, is probably the most epic performance out of the two seasons.

Mad Clown and Outsider’s Coming of Age (Feat. Ivy) – Outsider, arguably the fastest rapper in Korea, and Mad Clown, who is rapidly becoming popular in mainstream media thanks to this show, collaborate for a masterpiece. Rapping about a woman’s coming of age story, Outsider’s rapid fire rapping is tempered by Mad Clown’s strong, rhythmic delivery.