WINNER’s Mino employs retro beats to enliven his hip-hop solo album

November 26, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) — Boy band WINNER’s rapper Mino released his first full-length album Monday, the lead hip-hop track of which utilizes brilliantly entwined retro Korean beats.

Beats and concepts were borrowed from a soulful, rhythmic 1969 Korean song whose title translates as “A Maiden from Soyang River” to add retro vibes to the lead track “Fiance.” Including the unique lead song, the solo album “XX” has 12 tracks, with Mino composing and writing all the songs in collaboration with other artists.

“I wanted to give a tweak to my existing image, which I guess has been heavy with hip hop and rap. I wanted to start afresh,” Mino, whose real name is Song Min-ho, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency and other news outlets.

At the same time, he had to find an equilibrium between the old trot song’s retro vibes and his hip hop music because “the trot music could have easily made the song very out of date or out of place.” He added, “But, personally, I think the right balance was found and I am satisfied with the result.”

Like the old song, Mino’s “Fiance” features longing and desire for a lover, but from a male perspective. The music video of the song features Mino as a Korean king who, surrounded by scantily clad, sexy royal concubines, longs to meet his lost lover.

WINNER member Mino is shown in this photo provided by YG Entertainment. (Yonhap)
WINNER member Mino is shown in this photo provided by YG Entertainment. (Yonhap)

WINNER member Mino is shown in this photo provided by YG Entertainment. (Yonhap)

Having been heavily involved in the production of the music video as well as the album jacket, Mino said he drew inspiration from the 2012 Korean film “Masquerade,” which depicts the story of Joseon Dynasty King Gwanghae.

Three entertainers — rapper YDG, singer Blue.D and comedian Yoo Byung-jae — featured on three other tracks on “XX.”

The track featuring Yoo, “Hope,” and the first track, “Trigger,” were rated unfit for listeners aged 19 or under by Mino’s label, YG Entertainment, because of their lyrics. They are currently undergoing government screening for a final decision.

Before joining YG, Mino began his K-pop career as an underground rapper and made his name by winning second prize on the popular rap competition TV show “Show Me the Money” in 2015. A song of his that was broadcast on the show came under fire for lyrics that disparaged women.

“(After that), I became more considerate when composing or arranging songs and their lyrics, giving them my second thoughts,” he said.

Venting his creative energy in his own solo album was a dream from his childhood, Miso said: “Therefore my goal for this album was to pack what I have long dreamed perfectly into it.”

But he leaves the final judgment of his work open to the differing tastes of the public, he said, adding, “This is why I titled the album ‘XX.’”

He explained, “Rather than putting the album’s concept into one word and limiting myself to its frame, I wanted its listeners to fill in the blank for themselves.”

Mino also said that ranking high on music charts will be the best scenario, but he is already satisfied that his 12 new tracks are finally available for people to listen to.