'High School Rapper' to air first episode tonight
The fourth season of teenage hip-hop audition program "High School Rapper" will begin tonight on cable channel Mnet, with the show's judges saying it will be a competition between "the most powerful and unique contestants yet."
"The contestants' individual characters are much more distinct than before, and their range of styles are much more versatile," rapper The Quiett said at an online press conference held Friday, adding that the contestants seem more "powerful."
"High School Rapper" is Mnet's high school-only hip-hop audition program that has given rise to some of the most promising rappers in its previous seasons. Contrary to Mnet's "Show Me The Money" audition series where already-debuted rappers readily take part, "High School Rapper" has allowed younger amateurs to flaunt their talent without adult competition.
Rapper Yang Hong-won debuted through the first season in 2017, Haon in 2018 and Lee Young-ji in 2019. The show skipped a year and will now start its fourth season.
"It's nice to see younger and purer contestants develop through their passion, even though they lack experience compared to the contestants on 'Show Me The Money,'" The Quiett said.
"We've all gone through the same stage, but we've forgotten about those times. Seeing the younger people try gives me motivation and courage as a musician."
Other members of the panel agreed that the youthful passions of the teenage contestants are a source of inspiration for them as well. The panel includes some of the most sought-after rappers and producers in Korean hip-hop: The Quiett, Nucksal, Yumdda, Simon Dominic, Loco, Changmo, Way Ched, Jay Park, pH-1 and Woogie.
"Everyone is so good that you can't choose just one particular person to win," said Simon Dominic. "We need fresh blood. I joined because I wanted to feel that freshness, and it actually helps with my work."
"It's beautiful to see people love hip-hop so purely like they do," said Yumdda.
A total of 12,000 teenagers applied for the audition, the highest turnout yet. However, no female contestants made it through to the show, which producer Choi Hyo-jin explained was because less than 2 percent of the contestants were female.
"We hoped that more female contestants would apply, because last year's winner was female," Choi said. "The producers thoroughly examined everyone, but we could not choose a [female] contestant to join us. We hope to see more talented and powerful female rappers next year."
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]