Not way back, the trailblazing, fresh-faced HAON felt aimless. There was an itch inside him. He had lots to say, however there was a disconnect between his phrases and feelings regardless of a string of profitable collaborative singles lately. “It was a time period the place I spent loads of time considering my future and the route I ought to soak up life,” he remembers.
Then, Sik-Okay reached out to him. Would he prefer to collaborate on a monitor? That’s all it took. Seems, HAON had been standing on the precipice of creative evolution. As he “spewed out” the lyrics to ‘Possibly I’m Loopy’ in these first few periods, he had unknowingly despatched himself tumbling into a brand new period.
Months later, as Sik-Okay and HAON be a part of NME by means of a Zoom name, their relationship has advanced from long-time collaborators and labelmates to a CEO and his artist. As they formed ‘Possibly I’m Loopy’ by means of a collection of ramblings and freestyle periods on their worldwide tour, the 2 realised that their synergy demanded a extra everlasting area to thrive.
“Once we completed the monitor, we realised that we would have liked an album-like scale for this mission,” Sik-Okay remembers. “As a result of it was so enjoyable to create. Utilizing new sounds and imagining new performances with the viewers pulling as much as the live performance. And we have been about to go on tour at the moment, so we completed like seven, eight tracks in Korea and made it occur in Europe, North America. The songs weren’t even launched but, however [the audience] was hyped for actual.”
“It wasn’t a specific sound or a specific assembly [where] we sat down and mentioned what we wished to precise.” HAON provides. “It was actually enjoyable to have the ability to categorical all these feelings. We realised that our synergy labored rather well.”
“I selected to resolve issues on my own loads of instances. However Sik-Okay was in a position to assist me get out of being remoted and alone” – HAON
Ultimately, ‘Possibly I’m Loopy’ would turn into the fourth monitor on their collaborative mixtape ‘Album On The Approach’. Simply as they’d completed laying the muse for extra songs, Sik-Okay supplied to convey HAON on as his newfound company’s first official signee. Sik-Okay, who had parted methods with H1GHR Music a 12 months prior, was organising his company Kwon Min-sik Firm, or KC. HAON, who had been craving a brand new route and construction, stated sure.
Trying on the bigger trajectory of occasions – Sik-Okay’s outstanding place within the business and HAON’s prodigious rise on the scene, underscored additionally by his litany of collaborations, together with with Sik-Okay – it’s straightforward to consider their dynamic as a brotherly or mentor-mentee bond. Preserving their particular person identities, nonetheless, is the inviolable clause of this easy relationship.
For HAON, freedom was a key think about placing down roots at KC. “KC was in a position to give me a transparent route. They respect my concepts and my views, whether or not that [comes] from me personally or my music. There was a mutual respect and belief between Sik-Okay and I that has been happening for over 5 to 6 years.”
Regardless of his self-professed stoicism – as he declares at one level in our dialog – HAON credit Sik-Okay for bringing him out of his shell. “Prior to now, I discovered it fairly tough to achieve out for assist first,” he admits. “I selected to resolve issues on my own loads of instances. However Sik-Okay was in a position to assist me get out of being remoted and alone.”
The change in outlook, HAON reveals, subsequently laid the muse for the pivot in his musical route. “There have actually been moments once I felt powerless within the face of the quickly altering society. However trying again, it was a interval of clearly defining and deconstructing, and reassembling what I would like and are not looking for for myself.”
Perhaps it’s the novelty of the function, however it’s odd at instances to see ‘CEO Sik-Okay’ in motion – as in his music, the rapper in individual is the embodiment of motion. A lot of ‘Album On The Approach’ was refined as he flitted from one live performance venue to a different, jumbled ideas and rejected concepts in his wake. He’s spent a greater a part of his profession cooking up collaborations with different artists.
His restlessness peaks by means of even in public interactions – he speaks along with his complete body, his palms making an attempt to maintain up as phrases fly out on the velocity of sound. For a maverick similar to him, the idea of placing down roots appears anathema. It appears, nonetheless, that he’s positively not a insurgent with no trigger.
“I’m not making an attempt to step on them [or] go greater than H1GHR Music proper now. It’s a small world, and we gotta not battle” – SIK-Okay
“I’m a free-spirited man, however like, the ‘locked-up’ free-spirited, you understand?” He explains his motivations behind KC. “I realised that it’s my final alternative to fulfill individuals and create a workforce for, like, Group KC and Group HAON. It’s actually laborious to fulfill individuals, however as quickly as we work on one thing, all people’s actually centered on it, and I actually begin to belief them. I hope they do too.”
“I simply wish to end this music and stuff sooner or later,” he reveals. “I don’t wish to do that until, like, 50. I simply wish to assist [up-and-coming] artists, and I wish to hyperlink them to my workforce, like HAON or my buddies. 20 years in the past, in Seoul, hip-hop and rap music began to, like, ‘calm down’. I feel it’s one other period [like that].”
Inevitably, the dialog turns to H1GHR Music, which each Sik-Okay and HAON had known as dwelling for years. With the worldwide enlargement of Korean music, H1GHR is oft credited for revitalising curiosity in Korean hip-hop. Sik-Okay remained one of many key gamers on the company’s roster till he left in 2022 after his contract expired. HAON adopted in Might 2023 after a five-year stint.
As pure as it’s for hypothesis to run amok when artists half methods with their companies – “Any sort of bye isn’t a ‘good’ bye,” each Sik-Okay and HAON say throughout the dialog – their bye was “excellent”. Sik-Okay credit this to understanding that having totally different plans for himself wouldn’t tarnish his relationship along with his former dwelling. “It’s like household stuff, it’s not like enterprise stuff,” he says.
“I’m not making an attempt to step on them [or] go greater than H1GHR Music proper now. It’s a small world, and we gotta not battle,” Sik-Okay says. He should still be new to the function of CEO, however the assured function is as magnetising as the person himself. “I can inform KC is larger than my being and my character. [With KC] I wish to take duty. No jokes, no scams – I wish to shield the artists right here.”
Regardless of the finality of his phrases, the endgame is way from sight. Each Sik-Okay and HAON have albums deliberate for later this 12 months, and worldwide enlargement is the subsequent logical step they agree on. “We don’t wanna cease. We wish to work like, [out of seven days] perhaps three days in Korea, two days within the States, two days in Asia someplace,” says HAON.
Sik-Okay provides: “I don’t suppose that is the time to speak concerning the endgame. That is the opening.”
Sik-Okay and HAON’s new mixtape ‘ALBUM ON THE WAY!’ is out now
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