Shout out to the hard working folks over at Khiphop Subs for doing all of the English subtitles and timing for this season! If you’re a fan of their subs, please be patient with them as subbing full episodes of a show like SMTM takes a lot of time.
This season kicks off with several familiar faces being shown in the crowd in the first few minutes. Rappers like Yang Hong Won aka YoungB, P-Type, Olltii, and Hanhae have returned this season. Another record breaking number of applicants have shown up for the Korea auditions. There are about 1,000 people to evaluate per producer in the initial audition round.
Everyone watches as the producer teams come into the arena. This season will be quite interesting due to the combined success and popularity of the producers. Some producers are more confident than others…
Ah the forever humble Jay Park.
As Tiger JK and Bizzy make a grand entrance, the K-hip hop classic from Drunken Tiger, ‘Isolated Ones, Left Foot Forward’, plays in the background. Tiger JK says that he thinks that he and Bizzy will come in 3rd place this season, followed by Choiza and Bizzy in last place. He claims that the AOMG-Illionaire Team will be he and Bizzy’s main competition.
The best part of the first two episodes is always seeing what new talent is discovered and watching the producers’ unique judging styles. Tiger JK is super intimidating. Choiza himself admits he wouldn’t want to face him:
A string of contestants straight up give up when Tiger JK is standing in front of them. Club Eskimo/HIGHGRND artist Punchnello, highly anticipated by all of the producers this season, is next to face the Tiger. Tiger JK says that he thinks Punchnello has ‘genius musicality’.
Punchnello may be small and cute but he spits fire. He has a bit of a shy persona but he said his goal this season is to become more well known. Tiger JK passes him through to the next round.
Bizzy has an interesting judging style. He he has a smile on his face but is super critical and passes no one the first round.
Dynamic Duo is next. They discuss their track record of recognizing talent and helping artists succeed through their label Amoeba Culture. Choiza seems scary…
but is really sweet and encouraging, even hugging contestants. Gaeko can’t keep a smile off his face either, calling himself and Choiza the ‘neighborhood fool hyungs’. In spite of their laughter and kindness, they give out no necklaces.
One contestant who is judged by Gaeko is 13-year-old Jo Woochan.
He’s very confident and his lyrics are impressive. Gaeko passes him and tells him that he wants to hear a more rhythmic rap next time.
Outside the arena, some return contenders (Microdot, Myundo, New Champ, Junoflo, Hanhae) draw attention.
Junoflo competed last season and lost to Hash Swan. Hash Swan was also eliminated later and wants another chance as well. He mentions his Dokkaebi stage during the finale (a performance that really stood out to me) and how it made him wish he had made it further.
The producers are looking forward to both young rappers this season. Gaeko judges both Hash Swan and Junoflo. Mnet really knows how to build the drama. Hash Swan passes with ease but Junoflo gives us all a scare as he struggles to start rapping due to nerves. Gaeko tells him to relax and he’s finally able to rap. He passes.
There is always at least one contestant who draws attention because of his looks. This year it’s Big One from VMC, a standout among the other rappers in his label because of his visuals. He faces Bizzy, who asks him to rap twice. I can tell Big One is good but he’s probably better with a beat. He barely passes.
Dean is next to start judging. If this man says he’s not handsome one more time…Dean purposely hides his eyes with a hat because he thinks his gaze isn’t very strong while Zico hides his with sunglasses for the exact opposite reason.
There are many cringe-worthy moments any given season of SMTM, but two especially terrible moments are when lady contestants try to dance or be sexy during their audition and when OG 1st generation rappers get eliminated. During Dean’s judging we experience both. One of the girls who auditions earns this look from Kasper (man I miss her savagery during Unpretty Rapstar haha):
Dean gets labelled as cold after eliminating both 1st gen rappers MC Hansae and Onesun.
Another OG, freestyle pioneer Digili, appears.
Gaeko is so stressed to have to judge his old friend and hyung…
Digili ends up passing but Gaeko notes that there’s no applause when he handed him the necklace. We’ll see how long Digili lasts.
LOTS of elementary and middle school applicants have shown up this season. A stand out among them is Yang Hong Won aka Young B, who recently won 1st place on High School Rapper, another competition show. He is judged by Choiza as everyone watches closely. He has a really strong audition and passes:
Another High School Rapper contestant has shown up, who left HSR shrouded in controversy. As No:el enters to audition, he gets a lot of judging glances.
Despite the negative attention, he does well and Jay Park passes him to the next round.
There are always contestants who draw attention to themselves because of strange costumes or gimmicks but there was one guy impersonating The Quiett who took the prize this season:
Boi B and Geegoin are back this season! Boi B auditions with Bizzy and passes with no problem. Geegoin auditions with Tiger JK and starts off well but stumbles. Sadly he doesn’t make it.
Penemeco, a part of Fanxychild with DEAN and Zico, has shown up to auditions. He has a very distinctive voice. He faces Gaeko for judging. Gaeko asks him to rap twice, not because he’s uncertain about his talent but because he enjoyed hearing him rap. Penemeco passes to the next round.
There are NY auditions and LA auditions again this year. Grammy-award winning producer Swizz Beatz is the guest judge for New York (also Alicia Keys’ husband Gaeko points out with a thumbs up haha).
One rapper in New York, Absint, catches his eye and passes to the next round.
A high school exchange student named Na Sangwook impresses Bizzy in New York and makes it to the next round.
The only prominent female contestant to be featured so far this season is a woman named Hee Sun Lee who shows up to audition with her husband and kids. She shares a bit of her backstory as a Korean adoptee. Gaeko judges and she passes.
Rapper Rekstizzy shows up to the L.A. auditions. I’m only familiar with him because of his collaboration with pH-1. Jay Park was really looking forward to seeing Rekstizzy because he thinks he has talent and charisma. Dok2 passes Rekstizzy to the next round.
Rapper Los also shows up to L.A. auditions. I really enjoyed his feature in G2’s song ‘Bang’.
The producers seem to have high expectations of him and Jay Park praises him for working hard to learn how to rap in Korean, which he’s only been doing for 4-5 months. He auditions with Dok2 and passes.
A rapper named Woo Wonjae is highlighted during the Korea auditions and he’s the only contestant (besides Punchnello) who is able to look Tiger JK in the eye as he raps.
This guy is so intense but really good. I’m looking forward to him. Tiger JK says his rap was memorable and unique.
Two strong contenders who are well known rappers, Nucksal (from VMC) and Double K, have shown up to compete this season. The producers have high hopes for Nucksal and other contestants agree he could win it all.
No one expected Double K to show up (after winning season 1 of Show Me The Money) but he says he came because he wants more exposure.
Dok2 judges Nucksal, who is really good and passes with no problem.
Old friends Dok2 and Double K have a cute bro moment and we see that Tiger JK is set to judge him. Mnet builds drama and leaves us uncertain whether Double K will pass or not. Guess we’ll have to wait til next week to find out!
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