Hello Asia’s Grace Casley chats with Korean hip hop artist Sleepy about his debut solo album First Warmup. As one half of Hip Hop duo Untouchables, Sleepy is one of the main innovators in the Korean hip hop world. After releasing two full length albums and numerous EPs, Sleepy has decided to launch his own eagerly awaited solo project First Warmup (F/W). Sleepy talks to Grace about the making of the album First Warmup (F/W) and his thoughts on the Korean hip hop industry.

What type of sound have you portrayed in your solo album that will be different from what we see of you as part of the duo Untouchable?

I have tried to integrate my recent feelings into the music so it turned out to be more bright. On the other hand, if I get sad or depressed, these emotions will get reflected on my music as well. So I think the main difference between the previous Untouchable songs and my solo album is that the current songs have more acoustic and cheerful sounds.

Primary worked with you in the production of your latest album and single First Warmup. What was it like to work with him?

We have known each other for over 10 years and we already had experiences of working together for previous songs. I thought he was the most suited producer to express the happiness which I wanted to reflect on the songs so I’ve asked him to work with me. We talked and discussed a lot about the album and I even went to his house to have the discussions which I think is how we achieved a good outcome.

What aspect did you enjoy most about the title track 기분탓? It certainly looked like you were having fun in the music video!

I get so happy to read comments that says my songs make them happy by just watching the MV. I wanted to spread my happiness to the others and I was very excited to have the MV reflect what I wanted.

What is the meaning behind the album title, First Warmup?

Firstly as it is the first album as Sleepy, I had the urge to show as many things as possible but ended up putting in my most desired message only. So the album contains only a part of what I am capable of showing, and the album title reflects such lightness of my first album as a solo.

You have done collaborations with an innumerable amount of artists. Who would you like to collaborate with most in the future?

There are a lot of talented artists who I want to collaborate with, and they will be seen working with me in my other albums.

Untouchable has been in the industry as a unit for almost 10 years, and you yourself have been rapping even longer. In your eyes, how has the rapping industry changed, both positively and negatively?

In the industry perspective the music market did expand, increasing the number of artists who makes profit. The environment rap musicians have also improved which I am really happy about. However increasingly music is being consumed as an instant product, and a style for a successful hip hop music is set which I feel is the downside of the current music industry. This I think is something which all Korean rappers have to work together to improve.


What are your thoughts on competitive survival rapping shows such as Show Me The Money and Unpretty Rapstar?

For producers they have to entertain the audience and increase viewership at the same time so some parts of the programs do get exaggerated. But I see the positive side of the survival rapping shows in providing opportunities for underground musicians to be on stage and perform in front of an audience who haven’t had the chance to shine.

You joined forces with Secret’s JiEun recently to perform on ‘Immortal Song 2’. What prompted you to participate in this performance?

Honestly I not picky when it comes to choosing where I will be performing. So I thought the ‘Immortal Song 2’ would be a great opportunity for me to perform with a live band, which isn’t a common experience you can have in Korea.

You have mentioned that you coached AOA’s Jimin, Chanmi, and Mina in rapping. What are your thoughts on their progress, both as idol rappers and as part of a successful group?

They initially had a lot of talent so I think they still have the potential to develop into better artists.

Why did you choose the name “Sleepy” as your rapper name? Any special significance?

I was always the boy who loves to sleep and I still am so my friends called me ‘sleepy’. It doesn’t have any specific meanings to the name it’s just a nickname I had for a long time.

As someone who has gained success and recognition in their art, what advice do you have for the many aspiring young rappers, both in South Korea and abroad?

If you believe in yourselves and have the love for music and rap, hold on to the mic no matter what.

First Warmup (F/W) is available on iTunes Australia

Translation by Lucy Lee