Just Music is one of South Korea’s hottest hip-hop labels

Whole Crew performing tracks from the “We Effect” Album. Photo by Michael Feng

I had the rare opportunity to attend a concert at the Vogue Theatre featuring one of my favorite hip-hop labels from South Korea. Their name is Just Music, and like the name suggests, they were spectacular in every way imaginable, keeping it as real as it gets.

I had the chance to sit down with them post-show and talk about their latest album, present and future aspirations, and, in general, how life’s been treating them. Just Music showed a lot of pride in their new compilation album We Effect. It’s like they are jumping on the same trampoline and jumping in different directions, but still coming together to show a strong energy at once.

Swings: First of all, me going to the army had the biggest effect. Even when I came back, I couldn’t do the job right as a leader. Then I realized that we all have changed so much musically and mentally. During Ripple Effect, our minds were all the same. We all knew back then that we were shitheads. So it was more important to us that we got together and made something. For example, you know that tool that brings all the units together in StarCraft? Ripple Effect was something like that. Then one and two years passed, I saw that we were changing. Now, Giriboy and Swings do not have overlaps in terms of music, same with Nochang and Swings. It became harder to come together as things went like that. We saw each other every day, drink, have conversations, and make music, but we just didn’t come together naturally. Clearly, we needed a new leadership and new mindsets from the members as well. There needed to be a time where everyone needed to sacrifice themselves a little bit, but no one was ready at the time. Of course, now through We Effect, we got to know each other more.

Compared to the times since Ripple Effect, there have been a lot of changes. I see that now Giriboy is showing off a lot of electronic music, so-called “future sound.” Since that is the case, has the structure of the compilation album been changed significantly from what was expected?

Giriboy: I think so. There has been a lot of changes.

Giriboi hyping up the crowd Photo by Michael Feng

Swings: Remember at first, when you wanted to be the leader, you gave us around 10 beats.

Giriboy: I think those beats were not enough for a lot of people to participate in. Not enough for compilation, maybe.

Then, I guess Giriboy had to match himself to the others.

Giriboy: Of course, there were some aspects like that. It was like filling in the last number of pages (laughs). There was a reason for participating, because I thought it would be weird if I didn’t as well. But honestly, I didn’t think much about it. It’s not like I can’t do the style of We Effect. I could do it, so I just did it naturally.

Since it was a compilation album, were there uncomfortable situations where there were conflicts?

Swings: A lot.

Goretexx: I don’t think I had any. Everyone here is witty so… (laugh) If we were listening to something and it was bad, then that person that created something bad would step back like a ghost and something like that? You know? So there were no times where someone had to say, “Oh, I don’t know about this.” It all worked out naturally. (Laugh)

Swings: It would be like, if I asked, “Hey, how is this?” and there is an awkward silence… then I would say, “Let’s go with the next one.” (All laugh) Actually, for someone like me, I yielded a lot to others since I was young. Of course, only to my people. But people here, they really have strong feelings about their music, in a good way. So there were silent conflicts within us. I thought I was playing in an invisible tennis game (all laugh). We also talked about this already, but Giriboy really did the most. As you know, he is the one that makes the music furthest away from something like We Effect. Everyone has their own strong color, but I would say Giriboy has it the most. So he did his best and yielded to all of us a lot. Good job, Giri.

C-Jamm performing his hit single “U Know”

NoChang aka the Genis Producer and rapper with a unique flow and style

: I see that there could have been a lot of conflicts with ideas, but I think that there could have been a lot of conflicts with schedules as well. I saw one article about the conflict between different schedules of manager and the maker. Managers have to rush the maker a lot because they have to work with deadlines, but the maker can only do something if they are inspired by something, so it is hard for them to move according to schedule. Since all members have different styles of making, maybe they would all have different thoughts about following a set schedule as well.

Swings: If we compare ourselves to a body, we are a heart. But our hearts are crazy (laugh). So it doesn’t really work for us to follow a set schedule. The most professional out of us is, surprisingly, Giriboy. He’s just sitting there right now and zoning out. But he does his job well. Everyone works hard, but Giriboy is the best at following a set schedule.

I read this book where people are divided into six categories – feeling, materialistic, travelling, etc. If we decided to divide our members based on that, most of us here would be in the feeling category. The kind of person that translates everything with emotion. When someone is talking, they don’t listen to what they say, but feel the energy from the person. Most people here are like that. Maybe with the exclusion of me and Yohan. I think Bill Stax Hyung is in the materialistic category. I think Dok2 is an example of that as well. Anyway, I think we’re all like that. Except me. I’m the intellectual type (laugh). I’m the type where I have to explain every fucking thing that I know and I’ve learned to other people.

That’s why there are things like this. You know how Narae comes out a lot in our lyrics? It’s because there is a power game, but also love between us. Some people have told me in the comments to stop picking on Narae. I think they know that we’re picking on her (all laugh). But we can’t help it, she’s such a kind and emotional girl. She’s been an underground hiphop fan since 10 years ago and now she’s here. Do you think that she doesn’t want to be emotional? She has to use her head just because of us and take care of the schedules mathematically, she’s acting very logically here. Of course, there are some aspects where there are conflicts. But as Bill Stax Hyung said, there is something special about our label. We’re more closer and like family. So we yield to each other a lot. Anyway, everyone talk some more. Al the people reading this will talk shit about me saying I’m talking too much. They’re gonna say please Swingg a lot from both crews. (laugh)

I’m done with the interview questions, do you guys have anything to say?

Swings: We’re going to keep doing music. We’re still growing and we are finding more and more about ourselves all the time. I don’t think I can think of something cool to say right here. We just want you to keep watching us.

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