WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
March 24th marked the first time since the members of MFBTY (Bizzy, Tiger JK, YoonMiRae) participated in a reality show since 2010. The producers at MNET’s “4ThingsShow (or 4 Kinds Show)” were with MFBTY as they prepared for their first full length album, Wondaland. BTS’ RapMon who also featured on Wondaland unexpectedly dropped in during the shooting and became the show’s 4th part to complete the show title’s theme. This hour long special takes us from JK’s humble beginnings, MFBTY’s hometown of Uijeongbu, RapMon’s thoughts of collaborating with his “hip-hop king,” to the tough slump they endured when JK’s father died. However, the ending shows the trio becoming stronger as a result of that tough time, and appropriately ending with a mini-video for their second single, “Hello Happy.“
Tiger is the first to be introduced, but rather than elaborate on himself, he introduces his wife, who is a first time guest on the show. They briefly discuss their relationship and share how the magic is still alive within it. Tiger comments that she still feels like his girlfriend, and Tasha not knowing what JK said, comments similarly that she still doesn’t know the difference between being in a relationship versus being married.
When it comes to Bizzy, JK said without him, JK wouldn’t be able to do what he does. However, there are still many who don’t know who he is. When asked how he got his start, he revealed he’s been rapping since fellow rapper, Yang Dong Geun’s (YDG) 1.5 album. That was nearly 12 years ago! He was still learning from YDG, who ironically was mentored by Drunken Tiger, and JK decided to help. Ever since 2004, Bizzy’s performed alongside JK and Tasha, but ironically people still have trouble recognizing him.
Rap Mon is then introduced, but this is his 3rd time on the show. He’s most famously known as BTS’ leader, but he was an underground rapper prior and grew up idolizing JK. As seen on his last appearance, people questioned him on why he joined a boyband. He vowed to change the views of these critics, and flash forward, he has a solo hip-hop mixtape and this collaboration with MFBTY.
We’re then taken to what looks like a seclusion room that JK must stay in for a day and be monitored. JK catches on that he’s being filmed and quickly devises a plan to maximize his privacy. He starts brushing his teeth, and slyly puts a mirror in front of the sink camera to block its view. The producers catch on to him and tell him he has to talk about MFBTY while in the room, and ask him why he is covering up the cameras. His excuse, “Oh, I needed to move it because the water stopped running in the sink.”
Is JK the Godfather of Korean Hip-hop?
Seeing he can’t escape, he proceeds to look himself up on the internet and comment on what people say about him. A common theme he sees is people calling him the father of Korean hip-hop, and we see him get uncomfortable. RapMon is asked about this and shows some frustration, “These days, younger people don’t know who he is.”
JK elaborates on how he started, stating he got into hip-hop culture through his friends, and it wasn’t something he saw as a career for himself. He liked the culture even when others didn’t understand it. However, he was picked up by Oasis Records after he performed at show, and later came out with his first actual album, “Call Me Tiger.” He formed Drunken Tiger the group 5 years later with then partner, DJ Shine, and the album was a breaking point for hip-hop culture. However, Korean culture still couldn’t grasp the concept of it. Nevertheless, Drunken Tiger is credited for bringing the culture into the mainstream, but it’s not something that JK likes to talk about. Korea was already doing some hip-hop, but because DT brought many cultural elements into the mainstream, he’s been labeled Korea hip-hop’s godfather. This puts an unexpected pressure on him to live up to a certain image.
Uijeongbu: Home of The Tiger
We’re next taken into a mini tour of Uijeongbu, a small city outside of Seoul that MFBTY calls home. Tasha and her family have lived here for many years, and she admits that Tiger moved there for her. She describes Uijeongbu that is a city that has the peace of the suburbs. At night, the nightlife is booming, but in the daytime you can hear farm animals and see beautiful mountains. Around the neighborhood, there’s multicultural restaurants and Tiger even makes a visit to a braiding shop that his wife recommended. JK video calls her and his son from the shop. Tasha catches the stylist (who happens to be her own) and reveals that JK is sensitive and might cry if his braids are too tight.
A Feel Ghood Time Capsule
The new Feel Ghood Music office is referred to as a time capsule. The common area is filled to the ceiling with vinyls that the group uses for inspiration, and there are no windows to minimize distractions. When they are in the studio, they get caught up in their music and it’s easy to lose track of what time of day it is. Tasha refers to it as a black hole that is easy to get stuck in.
Tiger The Great Husband
As the trio prepare for the Hello Happy music video shoot, Tiger is seen dancing to Childish Gambino’s “Sober,” and the result is almost similar to the music video. Tasha is initially unphased by JK’s woo’ing dance, but after stringing him along, she jumps into dance with him. Tasha comments that JK has sacrificed so much for her. No matter how sick he is or how tired, he would do anything to make her happy. Bizzy reveals that JK is the one who has “aegyo (cutesy act)” in the relationship, not Tasha. However, their relationship is like a match made in heaven.
Tiger JK is NOT Funny
Bizzy and Tiger are back in the studio and are ready to review the album track list. They’re looking at feedback and votes for what should be the lead singles. JK reveals that BangDiggyBangBang was inspired by his son’s love for a trampoline (“BangBang” is slang for trampoline, “BangDiggy” means Jump on). In the midst of this, he tries to drop some punch lines and is met with a non-reactive Tasha and an awkward laughing Bizzy. Tiger reveals that no one ever seems to get his jokes. Tasha reiterates and says, “His jokes take so long to get. He thinks they’re funny, but really they’re just corny.” RapMon’s reaction to JK’s jokes, “That was supposed to be a joke?”
Rap Mon Surprises MFBTY
We’re taken back to when the group filmed their “Bang Diggy Bang Bang,” video. Tasha is missing from the room, and JK and Bizzy stand in awkward silence. JK says that without a script and without Tasha, both he and Bizzy are useless. Rap Monster arrives a few minutes later without knowing MFBTY is in the middle of filming for 4ThingsShow. He is caught off guard at first, but tells the camera that Tiger JK is his idol. JK replies, “You’re my idol (play on words).” JK comments that Rapmon changed his view of idol rappers. Rapmon’s good-natured personality and natural skills rapping left a positive impression.
However, it wasn’t always positive between RapMon and JK. JK recalls that in the studio, RapMon took off his shirt and left only his undershirt on. JK was worried RapMon was trying to get a glance from Tasha, and it didn’t help that Tasha was being friendly to him. This didn’t sit well with JK and he said, “Your face changes when someone younger comes.” A small argument between Tasha and JK followed. This occurred in front of RapMon, who commented that he could see even through an argument, they truly loved each other.
Jordan Standing Tall
We get a glimpse into their apartment and Jordan is seen gleefully playing. Tasha is in amazement that Jordan has grown so quickly, and both her and Bizzy say he’s trying to be more like his father. Tasha reminisces JK’s reaction when Jordan was born, “Every worry JK had just disappeared.”
The show turns somber as the audience is led to JK’s father’s room, which is still in tact a year after his dad’s passing. It’s a touchy subject for all three members to discuss, who all struggle to hold back tears. Tasha reveals that JK’s father (known to fans as “Smilingrandaddy” or G-PA, short for grandpa) was everything to him: father, teacher, best friend, and mother. JK’s face fills with admiration as he remembers his dad, “He was a teacher, well cultured, someone that was loved by many.” When his father was diagnosed with cancer in July 2013, JK did all he could to save him, but, “No matter what I did, I couldn’t save him. It made me crazy.”
The funeral was more burdensome.The media showed up at the funeral, and JK was in no mood to have it that day. He screamed at some, saying, “This is not a show!”
To this day, JK tries to put on a strong face in front of his family, but Tasha can hear him crying in the bathroom sometimes. JK misses his dad. However, rather than think of those months as a painful time, he takes what good he can: “During that time, the world felt so cold, but when I look back, I think of those last 7 months we had with him as a beautiful time for our family. We held his hand while he slept, shared meals with him when he was hungry.” His family hardly left his father’s side.
JK honors his father’s memory as much as possible. The necklace he wears now is one his father gave to him. JK is postponing cutting his hair because his dad would touch JK’s hair when they would talk to each other. Everyday he asks Tasha if he should cut it, then tells Tasha he’ll cut it tomorrow. Tomorrow still hasn’t come.
JK says he feels his father’s presence and hears his father speaking to him. In return JK writes to him hoping to “hear” a response.
Coming Back To Music
It took 10 months for MFBTY to fully come back to music. The release of “Angel” (under YoonMiRae’s name) in December marked their first single back, and it soared to #1 quicker than expected. The song was about everyone being an angel for someone, and there are angels there for you during your hard times. Clearly, it had elements inspired by their experience that past year. Making the song wasn’t about making a hip-hop track, it was just about making a song that felt good (thus Feel Ghood Music).
Returning as MFBTY fully 4 months later was hardly any different. The “Wondaland” album was meant to be free of genre, as it had elements from all areas. Even RapMon commented that when he heard the album, he didn’t need to know its “meaning.” It was just a new sound.
While critically acclaimed (check their recent review in Billboard Magazine), the name caused them some problems.
“It stands for ‘Mother Freakin’ BizzyTigerYoonMiRae,’ or ‘Miss Fat Booty,’ or ‘My Fans Are Better Than Yours,” JK says.
However, it’s not the meaning that fans take issue. “It’s not that hard to say!” Bizzy says in response to a question about the pronunciation.
What Is Wondaland?
In the beginning of the Wondaland album, we hear Tiger JK’s mother explaining what MFBTY is. JK clarifies that the title refers to a special place that is strange, but a kind of free dream land. The musical styles on the album match the concept, as they don’t want to label it as one type of genre. There were expectations this was a hip-hop album, but Tasha tells us not to worry about that, “Just listen to it and feel it.”
As the show draws to an end, Bizzy, Tasha, and RapMon are asked their thoughts on Tiger. RapMon says, “He’s not ‘Ho-Rang-Ee’ JK. He is his own name, no translation. Just TIGER JK.”
Bizzy tells stories of his friends listening to JK’s music. “My friends are older now. They’re married, some with kids. They have different priorities. However, when they listen to JK’s lyrics, they are inspired to listen to music again.”
JK is then asked to reflect on himself. He refers to himself as “Old Tiger” now. Unknowing to him, Tasha says JK still seems the same age to her.
The show ends with 4 messages JK is to keep in a time capsule to be opened in the future. One message is for his father, one saying “Tiger JK is here,” one that we can’t make out unfortunately, but the last one appropriately written: Love, Peace, & Harmony.
-MissDrunkenCamp (with help from JSK translated articles)
Drunken Tiger International