It’s another year and another summer which means another season of Show Me the Money! As dramatic, draining, cringey, and stressful as the show can be sometimes, I still end up watching the show because.. well… I kind of like it (and I just wanna see who’s on the show as a contestant and for the music and for the producers). It’s kind of addicting I have to admit. I’ve been watching the show ever since season 3 and have ever since then discovered many great and talented artists and rappers so I thought heck, why not put myself through another season of SMTM and hope for the best?
One of the biggest highlights of SMTM are the judges/producers and this year’s season is no different from the others. We have some new producers like Tiger Jk and Bizzy (super surprised to see them on the show considering their stance and opinions on shows like SMTM), Dynamic Duo, and cutie Dean while we have some returners like Dok2, Jay Park, and Zico. Overall, it’s a good mix of producers. The teams are definitely very interesting with Jay Park and Dok2 – 2 of the hottest and trendiest hip-hop musicians in Korea – as a pair and then newbie Dean with his friend Zico. My favorite producer team by far will always and forever be AOMG’s Simon D and Gray who appeared as a team on last year’s SMTM season. Aside from their godly looks, they were both a really funny and great team and with the raps of Simon D and beats from Gray, nothing could have really gone wrong
except things did. Last season has to probably be my favorite season of SMTM because of 1) Simon D & Gray 2) Team AOMG which had all of my favorite contestants in one team (I mean c’mon, you had BeWhy, One, and G2 all on one team. Such a killer team) 3) less drama than the seasons before and more about the contestants, performances, and music. So with SMTM5 being a pretty clean and neat season, I decided to give SMTM6 a chance. I just finished watching the first episode of SMTM6 right now and felt the need to talk about how things are so far, the contestants, and future expectations.
(Dean darling, pls take off your hat we can see your beautiful eyes)
Episode one was no different from any of the other first episodes of the other seasons. Because it’s just the preliminary round, all the contestants are judged by the producers and only so many pass onto the second round. The more popular rappers who already have some sort of foundation or build-up in the Khip-hop scene are given more screen time and attention and for the majority of them pass onto the second round. While I have heard of some of the rappers that appeared as contestants on the show (such as Nucksal, punchnello, Hash Swan, Junoflo, etc.), I haven’t really listened to any of them or their music. The only contestant so far in episode one that I’ve listened to and is a fan of is Young B (aka winner of High School Rapper). He had actually appeared in SMTM before he went on HSR and I remember just being mesmerized by his rapping and thinking to myself how great of a rapper he was (I was also rooting for him). And then unfortunately he got eliminated and we didn’t really hear about him again until he appeared on HSR and then is now in this year’s SMTM. I’m definitely looking out for him (b/c i’m lowkey biased like that) and what he has to offer, but there are also many other strong contestants from the looks of it on this season so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out.
I think in terms of popularity for the producer teams, I can definitely see Jay Park & DOK2 as well as Dean & Zico coming out on top just because they’re the trendier, more refreshing, and latest hip-hop musicians in the K Hip-hop scene right now and therefore appeal a lot more to the contestants who are younger. Dynamic Duo as well as Tiger Jk & Bizzy have strong influential roots within the Korean hip-hop industry having paved the road for the newer K hip-hop musicians to be in the place they are now, but over time have lost the popularity they once built for themselves because of newer hip-hop artists who are blossoming (aka AOMG, Illionaire, Fanxy Child, etc etc). That doesn’t mean that people don’t respect Tiger Jk + Bizzy and Dynamic Duo though because people still do respect them and even the 2 other producer teams have mentioned how much respect they have for the two older teams, but it’ll be interesting to see how they engage with the contestants who are a lot younger compared to the past seasons, especially when the two older teams are competing against 4 of the hottest hip-hop artists in Korea right now and you have contestants as young as elementary and middle school students.
As with all the past seasons, there are 2 things I hope will improve with this season (but I’m not counting on it too much): 1) more female representation 2) less drama. Last year’s season wasn’t so bad with the drama and I would actually argue primarily focused on the contestants, performances, and music which was heavily opposite of the season before with SMTM4 being a total dramafest at every single opportunity Mnet could get. I think a reason for that was because last year’s season didn’t really have any contestants who were super super popular or from any huge entertainment company unlike the seasons before where Mino, Bobby, and B.I. appeared and therefore controversy and drama erupted regarding their appearance as contestants on the show. I enjoyed last year’s season (Bewhy’s win was well-deserved and I’m glad he won. I had actually been rooting for him prior to SMTM5 when he was still unknown and no one had known his name yet, but I just didn’t hear much about him because SMTM didn’t really focus on him. So I’m glad that he returned as a contestant in SMTM5 and won because look at how famous and successful he is now!). I haven’t watched SMTM6 episode 2 yet so I’m unsure if any idol has appeared on the show, but if in the case that there is, I’m pretty sure there will be backlash and controversy because of the whole idol vs. rapper argument that always arises in SMTM every time. I just hope that it won’t take up too much time in this year’s season.
It’s unfortunate that if you’re not a rising hip-hop rapper or a rapper who already has some kind of foundation within the K hip-hop industry, your chances of becoming known and popular or winning SMTM is slim to none. Having watched the last 4 seasons of SMTM, I would argue that the show is more for those hip-hop rappers who have created music, have been exposed to the underground hip-hop scene, have been performing with their crews for quite some time now that they are then looking for another larger and better opportunity to showcase their skills and talents which is through SMTM. Contestants with connections or relationships with the producers are at an advantage even more because they then have a better chance of passing or winning the show which is unfortunate. What happens when your bias for a certain contestant outweighs the skills and talents of that contestant? I’m not gonna lie, some of the producers in episode one passed some contestants not necessarily for their rapping but because of their connection and long relationships that they had with each other which is unfair but not surprising to see. It’d be great to see a non-celebrity person out of the blue appear on the show with proficient/above average rapping skills and receive some screentime, but that’s not always the case and even if there are, Mnet chooses to prioritize their time by focusing on other people that are already well-known or have been exposed to the public because that’s where the money rakes in and that’s what people want.
While I think having 12,000 contestants/applicants in this year’s season is a phenomenal feat compared to the small amount of attention that the show started off on with its first season, the immense amount of attention that hip-hop is gaining in Korea, and the expansion of the auditions in other cities like New York and L.A., it won’t be anytime soon that someone who’s not an underground rapper in Korea will win SMTM. Maybe there should be another show designed to do just that just like how High School Rapper did with high school students. But maybe that’s too much to ask for.
Khiphop subs are currently subbing the show so follow them on FB for the latest and most recent updates! Thanks to the Khiphop subs team for dedicating their time and work into helping international fans understand and enjoy the show! Much appreciated 🙂
Credit: kshow123.net, Khip-hop subs @ FB (for providing eng subs!)