[Interview] Infinite H Breaks Down Prejudice Against Idol Rappers
Infinite′s hip-hop unit Infinite H has released its first album, Fly High, and, just like the title of its album, has started to soar through the sky. The unit′s debut comes as a special and meaningful challenge for its members Dong Woo and Hoya, who were the rappers and performers of the group.
Many agencies these days have been letting solo singers or units branch from their original groups to find their own places in case the day comes when idols in themselves are no longer competitive. This has led to a general trend in K-Pop, in which members of an idol group don′t just settle for their idol duties but also move on to individual promotions.
Infinite H′s debut, however, wasn′t made for any such big purpose. It just came to happen as naturally as could be.
"We became trainees on the same day," said Hoya. "We talked about hip-hop since we were trainees, and we always shared that we would like to do something together as we danced. That′s how we came to stand onstage together, release singles and make our dreams reality."
With its showcase, single release and debut performance the unit has seen that it′s managed to become fairly successful. On music sites it′s managed to butt in between Girls′ Generation (SNSD), CN Blue, Baek Ji Young and the issue-making MBC Infinity Challenge tracks to land in high ranks. The album was also received well by critics for drawing participation from skilled and recognized musicians.
Dong Woo said, "We actually believed the album would be a success when Primary hyungnim (big brother) said he would join. People listen to his songs with trust in his name. We also believed that fans would show a lot of interest because we would be Infinite′s first unit group. We felt more responsible."
Rather than choose to propel its album using its idol name, the unit decided to amass even more power by bringing in skilled underground and major hip-hop musicians to work on the album. Primary, Dynamic Duo, Zion T, Bumkey and Beenzino are some of the names that can be found in the album′s credits.
"Some see idol rappers as those who just repeat the lyrics that other people wrote for them. We, however, have always participated in our albums. I think that′s why [the musicians were] so favorable toward us. We realized that the skilled have open minds and don′t hold prejudices against idol rappers. They talked about their own experiences and led us so nicely," Hoya said.
How did it feel to fulfill a dream they′ve dreamt for such a long time?
Dong Woo said, "It was beyond imagination. When I monitored my rap it sounded more lively thanks to what I learned during recording. I feel that I′m learning more and maturing during my promotions for Infinite H."
Hoya added, "We had to learn the choreography to Special Girl in the early morning of the day we were to have our debut performance. We also had to sing the parts originally sung by Bumkey when we learned he wouldn′t be there. That first performance made us feel anxious. We felt like we were on a tightrope."
They have left the seven-member group temporarily to become two. As Infinite is known for its clean-cut choreography, standing onstage as only two may have made the stage feel more empty. The change in genre may have also made them feel lost.
Hoya and Dong Woo, however, showed they didn′t feel anything of the sort.
"It isn′t any harder to stand onstage as two instead of seven. It′s actually the opposite. It′s harder when we′re seven because you have to make a big impact in the short time you′re singing," said Hoya.
"We didn′t start working on the song with a certain concept in mind," Dong Woo said. "The songs were finished as we continued our work, and we thought about which should be the promotional single. We hadn′t decided on whether we should do something charismatic or bright. We chose to perform emotional hip-hop to fit the winter after taking the season into consideration."
The two had been close ever since their trainee days, sharing a love for hip-hop. After sharing a unique friendship even as members of Infinite, the two are now performing as a pair. What changes did this development bring to their relationship?
Dong Woo said, "I told Hoya about this, but I feel I′ve become more open since the showcase. Since it′s just the two of us and we get to talk a lot, we′ve opened up toward each other even more. It′s easier to change our performances on the spot since we′re only two people. We can put on some unexpected moves, too."
Infinite H has finished adapting to its new environment. Now, the duo is aiming to show off a new and improved version of Infinite H. The two shared a definite vision toward the future of the unit.
"At first we were rushed. These days, though, we′re thinking things over," Dong Woo said. "Since it′s a bright song, we want to make it look like we′re having fun onstage. You′ll feel how our performances change every week if you look closely."
Hoya said, "Some seemed to think that Infinite H is a one-time thing. It′s not. We′re aiming to keep it going. There are others who say they were expecting some charismatic music and so they were let down, but please take note that what we′ve shown this time around isn′t all we have in store. We′ve just taken our first step. We still have a lot to show. For real."
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan
Reach reporter Park HyunMin on Twitter @happygato!
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