B-Free to BTS: Can prejudice make us lose sight of the music?
Earlier in the week we asked you for your opinion on the B-Free/BTS scandal. Now one of our editors gives her personal opinion on the incident.
The world of hip-hop and the art of rapping is something that has long fascinated me from childhood. Like many I have been through the ocean of Tu Pac and Biggie Smalls, been washed over by the tide of Eminem and come out the other side towards new rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and A$AP ROCKY. But regardless of the changing times, it continues to become more appealing and this is exactly how it works with Korean Hip-Hop. Although the music has moved on, things have continued to become progressively more interesting, with the ever-changing sounds drawing in a wider base of listeners than ever before. Is this due to the increased interest in Korean music internationally? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really. The fact that Korean hip-hop after many years of being ignored and sidelined is finally being recognised and the artists are becoming successful is something that should be celebrated. Regardless of whether the rapper is an underground musician or a widely known name. Music is universal and if the music appeals to the listener they should be allowed to decide whether or not they wish to listen to it. But, in the same way, listeners should be able to decide what they do and do not listen to, artists should be able to decide how they choose to market that music to their target audience. And if that means they decide to apply a little bit of make-up and sugarcoat their lyrics – so be it, as a fan I will be accepting of this and support them.
However it would seem that some artists feel that others do not have the right to do things in their own way. In September we interviewed underground rapper B-Free and were happy to have done so (he is a favourite of mine and it was a pleasure to have the chance to get him to answer some of our questions). However one of the questions he answered caused quite the stir on Tumblr shortly after the interview was posted:
“I really have no respect for any K-pop groups or idols because they are all products and an image of what their companies needed and wanted in order to sell them. I don’t respect pretty boys or girls for this matter and the fact that they are making money off of music and an image they didn’t create themselves. To me, idols and most K-pop singers are just slaves and puppets for their companies. And idol rappers ha… I don’t even wanna waste my time talking about such things.”
I decided to post these words as they came because I believe it only right that people be allowed their views. Yes some fans, both of the man himself and idol groups, were unimpressed by them but it was felt that he should be allowed his say, as did others. If I am entirely honest I agreed with what was behind what was said, not so much the words but the context. The interview that B-Free done with Beyond Hallyu was an interview which I was 100% happy with and proud to post up on our site, because they were his words and his opinions on a matter he should rightly have a say on. But sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a say.
In the past week or so alongside many other prominent underground artists, two members of hip-hop idol group BTS attended a radio show in Seoul. (This event was filmed by Smiling Seoul and shared on her YouTube channel). Now for those of you who do not recall B-Free is already known for not exactly being the greatest fan of BTS (Instagram Explosion anybody?!?! ) so I was rather shocked to find out that two of the members would be in the same place as him but as the event was not about them what could be the harm right…
It would seem that it was all going well also until B-Free decided it was time to grill Rap Monster and Suga on nearly everything to do with their music. Was the music they were creating the same as his music? Were they selling out by becoming idols and marketing themselves to a more mainstream target audience? All in all, these questions would be fine and they should have been things that the two would expect. After all they had gone from being underground rappers themselves to suddenly being part of an idol group with increasing fan base (shown by the fans that had turned up with cameras to the event). The two should have known that someone would question their transition from underground to mainstream and know that they would have to defend themselves.And they did do that, and they did it in a professional and dignified manner.
I would have agreed with both sides of this discussion and found it an interesting one, had B-Free not spit all over it and in turn the majority of my respect for him. You see, it was fine that you asked them about the music they were making, question away. It was fine to compare it to your own. But to question their gender identity and sexuality because of some make up as though that is a sin is a slap in the face to the hip-hop scene you claim to love. You seem to forget that the very same thing you are putting your heart and soul in and claiming to love and ‘defending’ by your own means has come leaps and bounds in terms of equality, in terms of both gender and a persons sexuality over the last few decades.
We seem to have lost the man who said this:
“I know hate only brings hate but I just couldn’t sit around and just watch the art work of the artist that inspires me get copied and reused by business men who have no respect for other artists work it’s not the idol artist fault but if they just do what their bosses tell them how are they artists and not more than just robots or mannequins? I meant to help in my own way because if somebody does something so wrong i feel somebody should say something and in no way wanted to insult the fans”
And have been left with a man who feels that it is fine to be misogynistic and homophobic to get his point across. I want to agree with you, B-Free. More than anything right now I want to be able to say that you were right. I feel that some of the questions you asked needed to be asked, but the way you went around doing it was wrong and I wish you would understand this and apologise for the incident. Fans forgive and forget, and music speaks for a lot. Let your music continue to speak for you and watch your actions in the future.