Korean Hip Hop Interview: Jolly V
Chances are if you ask someone to list Korean rappers off the top of their head, the majority of the people listed are bound to be the usuals; Tiger JK, Dynamic Duo and Epik High. Few, besides Yoon Mirae, would be female. However, as with most things in life, Korean hip-hop is going through a well needed change and female rappers are finally rising out from the shadows and into the spotlight, swiftly changing the way in which not only they but the very culture they love is viewed by the wider public.
One such artist is Jolly V who has definitely been showing herself as not only a skilled ‘flow creator’ but also a brutally honest one if tracks like ‘Bad Bitches’ are anything to judge by. But whilst brutal honestly may be a turn off for some many fans admire Jolly V for her honest words and clean verses, others simply do not understand where the ‘cockiness’ comes from. I personally just think she’s a damn good rapper. So when the opportunity came along to her a few questions I threw myself at it…and the lady in question is rather lovely.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers:
Hey there, I’m a rapper, MC, flow creator, music lover etc., haha, who goes by the name Jolly V!
Describe your sound in three words:
Hmmm… JOLLY ! PLAYFUL ! TRUE !
How would you describe the underground hip hop scene to a new listener:
Expect more from it when you listen to it for the first time, and get ready to enjoy it a lot more!
The hip hop scene is forever changing and adapting, sometimes to be more ‘relatable’ to a wider audience of listeners. How do you deal with the changes?
Well I think K-hip hop is still undergoing a process. It’s only been about two decades since this culture has been introduced to this country and when you’re a 20-year-old, it’s still hard to say you’re “mature”. So far I think most musicians are going the right way, as in developing their characters as musicians and expanding their abilities through various styles and interesting collaborations. Bringing something new to the table is crucial in order for a culture to grow, so I don’t deal with the changes. I enjoy being part of it and getting to witness all of it as an artist who is part of the scene. I do what I think musicians should be doing which is focusing on making my own good music. I want to present stuff that only I can.
What does hip hop mean to you?
It’s like home. I love all sorts of genres but hip-hop is where I feel most comfortable. It’s like I’m wearing the right clothes and where I feel I’m supposed to be.
When speaking of ‘female rappers’, most people will name idol group members such as CL. As a female rapper how do you feel when being compared to members of idol groups?
I think being a rapper, and an MC is different. In my point of view, rappers are people who literally just ‘rap’ but MCs are artists who not only spit and write their own lyrics but also have a message within their music. So to the general public I guess it’s natural to compare anybody whoever ‘raps’, so I really don’t care about that. Who I’m comparable with as a good MC means a lot more to me.
Last year there was a discussion started up by certain underground rappers concerning underground turned idol rappers and whether or not they had ‘sold out’. If an underground rapper decides to take the idol route to have their music heard are they ‘selling out’?
I guess it really depends on how the rapper thinks about it. Every artist strives not only to produce good music but to also make a living as a full-time musician. The routes may be different but hard-work is required on any road you choose to walk along. I don’t pass any judgement on that.
How does the image of female rappers in Korea differ from that of international female rappers?
Well I don’t really know what the image of female rappers are in other countries but I think the concept of a ‘female rapper’ itself isn’t something that many Koreans are used to. I feel like a lot of Koreans don’t even have a glimpse of an idea about what a female rapper is, nor are they interested in the subject. I take it as a chance for Korean female rappers to prove themselves and show they can be more creative as artists.
Do you think female rappers have a harder time being taken seriously in a profession so strongly led by men?
In the States it doesn’t seem so, but I think in Korea? Yes. I feel like it has more to do with Yoonmirae’s broad influence than it being male dominated scene also. In Korea it almost seems like if you are not Yoonmirae, you are just not a female MC at all. Period.
Your song ‘Bad Bitches’ saw you speak out about the problems with ‘gutless’ female rappers simply complying with the image that is set out for them and using the fact that they are female to further their careers. The response you got from the two rappers highlighted were ones littered with comments regarding your looks and comparing you to a man. What did you think about these responses?
First of all I don’t think there is anything wrong with using the fact that you’re a female to further a career here as a rapper. But if that comes first, rather than presenting good quality music and showing artistry, then I think that’s a problem. Especially when you introduce yourself as a musician and not an idol star or a supermodel. My purpose of releasing “Bad Bitches” was not to prove that I was right, it was to speak out for myself on what I thought a “musician” should be like and what would make any female artist a better artist. During that period I read a lot of comments and some people seemed to understand my point but some did not. So I’m not sure if the response tracks highlighted the points I made to the audience but I felt neither tracks got my point at all.
You are currently preparing to release your 1st album. Can you let us know a little about the type of music we should expect to hear on it?
I tried a lot of different techniques, vibes, attitudes as a rapper in each of the tracks so definitely look forward in hearing a lot of versions of Jolly V, haha. Apologies to the foreign fans, because this album has a lot more Korean in it unlike my EP that was mostly in English. It’s still good music though! haha. I hope it’s enjoyed as a whole album rather than by singles ’cause there’s a story – there’s a message I want the listeners to figure out as they run through the album from start to finish.
What are you plans for the rest of 2014?
Well, my solo album will be coming out pretty soon and then I’ll be on stage as part of SouLime’s ‘WITH U’ concert this coming March. I’m planning to upload more video content as well. Definitely going to do more shows, work on more music, and push myself to be a better musician!
Do you have anything you would like to say to our readers?
For those who have been enjoying my music thank you so much – I hope to see you guys someday for real! And for those who got to know me through this interview – please do check out my music, I hope this first impression of me grows on and on!
Thank you to Jolly V and SouLime SounD for agreeing to answer a few questions for us and good luck to with the release of your upcoming solo album! We will support you and look forward to it