Korean Hip-Hop continues to grow not only in South Korea but around the rest of the world. America’s influence in the Korean scene is evident.
As the K Hip-Hop scene slowly gains more and more attention in the limelight, there is a specific label that stands out in my mind.
MKIT Rain, an LA-based Korean Hip-Hop label has set themselves apart from the pack. Often considered one of the best up and coming rap labels, MKIT Rain has an abundance of All-Star talent on their roster.
With a mix of both Korean and American born artists, the label has a unique make up that peaks the interest of anyone who stumbles across them.
Originally conceptualized in January 2016 by co-creators nafla and Loopy, the label later picked up talents such as BLOO, New Jersey’s Owen Ovadoz, and Young West. MKIT Rain has blown up exponentially in just the three years it’s been in the music scene.
Topping charts in Korea, MKIT Rain members have started a tour after their Show Me The Money 777 appearance. Show Me The Money is a Korean Hip-Hop competition show that pairs amateur and professional artists into groups to make it to the top. The show has a storied and respected history.
The two creators of MKIT Rain actually were put against each other in the final, with nafla taking the first place prize of 70,750,000 won (roughly $63,000). Their stellar performances on the show laid the ground work for their label to make it’s next step into the spotlight. Below is nafla’s final performance on the show to close out his win.
Show Me The Money 777
With MKIT Rain’s influence in both Korean and International music markets, I believe it’s not only essential, but also interesting, to look into the label’s members.
Choi Seok Bae aka nafla (yes, lowercase) was born and raised in Pasadena, California in 1992. He began to master the Korean language when he was around 11 years old. Following his Korean skills being strengthened, in 8th grade he began to focus on writing bars.
He began his music career in 2012 with his release of Platonixtape on August 16th. The tone of the music was more R&B than his modern boom bap style. He would gain this style through his musical inspirations.
Citing his inspirations including Biggie, Big L, Tupac, and Wutang Clan. All of which were introduced to him by long time friend and label mate Young West.
Nafla, Young West, and MKIT Rain member BLOO all grew up in the “La Crescenta” neighborhood. Being apart of the Young Creation rap group before disbanding, the three stuck together and created 42Crew in 2014.
Bae would release his This and That mixtape that year, taking home “Best Mixtape Performance of the Year” and the “Best Mixtape of the Year” via HipHopLE.
Through opening MKIT Rain alongside Loopy to releasing his first EP in 2016, nafla made it his year. Being pegged as Rookie of the Year 2016 at the Hip-Hop Gallery Awards.
Nafla’s hard boom bap style has helped him to become one of the very best in the business in Korea. With his win in Show Me The Money 777 and his label making sales, nafla will continue to set the world on fire.
Nafla – “Wu”
Lee “Loopy” Jinyoung was born in Seoul in 1987. Originally a skateboarder, Hip-Hop culture came naturally to the artist. Before creating raps, Loopy focused on becoming a producer in Korea.
Over his time spent with Nafla in LA he later decided that there was nothing stopping him from pursuing the life of being a rapper.
The artist made it known that he had a very hard time transitioning from Korean culture to living in America. He mentioned that the attitudes and personalities were so different that it took a long time for him to become accustomed to the LA lifestyle. However, through his connection with nafla and other artists, he was able to persevere.
His stage name is one of my favorite things about the young creator. He wanted a name that was easily remembered but also unique to him as a person. Jinyoung decided on the name “Loopy” from drawing inspiration from Luffy, the main character of One Piece. He’s often compared Luffy’s unstoppable punching power to his powerful raps.
Loopy is still a relatively unknown artist, with a lot of his details and history going under the radar. However, his instantly recognizable voice and cadence his most valued musical traits. When he’s on a song, you know it.
The Korean artist also came in second place, losing to nafla, in Show Me The Money 777. His appearance on the hit show contributed greatly to his rise to fame. He’s since released two mixtapes in 2018 titled King Loopy and Questions.
As Loopy gears up for a full album release and continues to gain traction we can only expect that he will continue to grow in the spotlight of not only Korea, but the U.S. as well.
Loopy(루피) – “Problems”
Born in Seoul, South Korea on October 13th, 1991. Kim (Owen Ovadoz) Hyunwoo moved to New Jersey at a young age and resided there for the majority of his early days. He would move back to Korea in the second year of middle school.
Growing up in the States had a profound effect on Ovadoz’s creativity and image of what Hip-Hop is. Often referencing iconic American’s emcees such as Tupac and Jay-Z, Ovadoz is a true hip-hop head at heart.
When he told his parents he wanted to pursue music, they said the only way they will support him is if he attends college and majors in English. He took the opportunity his parents offered him, creating an avenue for him to craft his words in a methodical and hypnotic way.
Owen has been releasing music since early 2000. However, he served the Korean military for a number of years. When he finished his service, he was primed and ready to get back to music.
He gained the majority of his notoriety by appearing on Show Me The Money 3 and Show Me The Money 4. This put him on the radar and officially started his music career in 2014.
Through the iconic show, he was able to collaborate alongside his future labelmates nafla, BLOO, Loopy and others such as ph-1 and Paloalto. These collaborations continued to build up, to the point where he was put onto MKIT Rain almost as soon as it went public.
This past year Owen released his most popular work thus far titled changes. Owen is also waiting to go on tour soon with the MKIT Rain crew.
Kim (BLOO) Hyunwoong has established himself in the Korean music scene in the past three years since his debut in 2016. Born in Seoul, he moved to LA where he was able to link up with the 42Crew, including nafla. Their childhood friendship would last a lifetime.
Often the one motivating nafla and introducing him to new music, BLOO always had a love for old school hip-hop. He’s made it known that his most influential musicians consist of artists like Tupac, 50 Cent and Biggie.
BLOO, although known as a Korean artist, is actually half Filipino and half Japanese. This cultural and racial mix has opened his eyes to the diversity around him. This includes the move from Korea to the States. He’s been able to adjust to situations as needed and fit the suit of what he’s called for. The artist reflects this in his diversity and variety in music.
Releasing his first single titled TONY in 2016, he was also picked up by the MKIT Rain crew at its initial starting point. The young artist has appeared as a feature on a multitude of different works, including working alongside Black Pink’s Jenny.
BLOO- “Downtown Baby”
Young West is a member of the 42Crew as well as MKIT Rain. He met nafla and BLOO when they were growing up in LA together. Young West was actually the very last member to join MKIT Rain, and he announced hopping on the team in a meticulous way.
On October 30th, MKIT Rain held an immensely popular Marvel inspired live performance. On the same day, Young West announced his signing to the up and coming label with his single release fittingly titled MKIT Rain.
In 2017 Young West released his mixtape #OKIDS and his mini-album titled LIGHTNING VISION.
As Young West continues to try and master his craft, he often joins nafla on learning how to produce. He often comments on how nafla is a huge influence on him not only in music but throughout his life as a man as well.
Young West- “Zombie Walking” (ft. Loopy)