[ENTERTAINMENT]MC Sniper takes aim at mainstream with concerts

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[ENTERTAINMENT]MC Sniper takes aim at mainstream with concerts

You're in the crosshairs, hip-hop fans, and MC Sniper wants to blast you with his aggressive attitude. The 24-year-old hip-hop artist is hosting two concerts this weekend to mark the release of his first mainstream album, "So Sniper." The CD is sophisticated and melodic, layering vocal solos and harmonies with orchestrations of strings, percussion and scratches.

Although Sniper's name may be unfamiliar, he has been popular in the underground scene since 1998. A native of Jecheon, a remote town in North Chungcheong province, Sniper bridles at the suggestion that he might have learned hip-hop outside Korea. "I'm doing legitimate Korean hip-hop, because I'm Korean," he says curtly. "I don't want to imitate either American or Japanese styles. I am as I am, that's it."

Sniper's lyrics are heartfelt and original. He recast a classic Korean protest song, "Sora Sora Pureureun Sora," as a hip-hop composition -- a version that is now a popular ring tone on young people's cellular phones. He enjoys discussing societal problems, particularly the desperation of the poor. "To me, music should be all about message," he says, downing a glass of kiwi juice at a coffee shop. "How you sing it does not matter. Whether the message is conveyed right is what counts."

Sniper moved to Seoul four years ago and nestled in the Hongik University area, a haven for nuderground musicians. There he pursued the music he wanted, but was lonely, had little money and found Seoul to be coldhearted. "It was the hardest time of my life, but it taught me to be a genuine artist," he says. Solitude helped him polish his music, which he writes and sings.

Sniper gradually developed a reputation as a socially conscious musician -- with attitude. "Though I'm now categorized as a mainstream musician," he says, digging into a slice of cheesecake, "I don't think I've changed. I'm the same old Sniper, one of your kind."

He sums up his philosophy of music by comparing it to a lotus which blooms in mud and dirt. "I want my music to help the lotus bloom in this dark world," he says.

The "So Sniper'z" concerts are 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday nights at the SH Club in Daehangno. For more information, call (02) 577-7227.

by Chun Su-jin

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