After the onslaught of high profile debuts and comebacks we have had recently it’s easy to forget the slightly more under-the-radar groups and their achievements. For instance, M.I.B have just dropped their latest single “Celebrate” and I only stumbled across it by accident.
I’m glad I did though, because while it’s hardly a world-changer, it’s pretty darn good. M.I.B first caught my attention due to their name – Mega Interesting Bastards, which they later changed to the family-friendly but less exciting Mega Interesting Busters. Boo, boring. However what is less boring is the fact that at the time of their debut their company (of Drunken Tiger and Leessang fame) had spent 1.7 million USD on them already. Faith, thy name is Jungle Entertainment. Each member released a solo single to build hype for the hip-hop quartet made up of leader and rapper 5zic, rapper Cream, vocalist Kang Nam and magnae/rapper SIMS. Quite the most extraordinary names I must say; my hip-hop culture knowledge isn’t field-tested but I can’t imagine Cream is a name that affords much street cred. The singles varied; I loved “Beautiful Day” by 5zic, the laid-back vocals and the more aggressive rap kind of reminded me of Taeyang but 5zic definitly has his own swagger and I just really enjoyed the song. In contrast I found SIMS’ “Hands Up” and Cream’s “Do U Like Me” barely worth a full listen, especially when Cream left his girlfriend after about 5 seconds to chase after this stranger who had smiled at him. Kang Nam – who is half Japanese – had “Say My Name”, which was far too auto-tuned; I think his voice can stand on its own. The song was sweet and he had plenty of emotion, even if the MV felt really cheap.
Their first single ,”G.D.M” (Girls Dreams Money — they really like their acronyms), was a typical hip-hop track with a catchy hook, and I mean infectiously catchy. Easy to dance to and proclaiming a love of the, eh, finer things in life, it was a fairly good debut. Unfortunately, the MV let them down: unrealistic club scenes, a lack or originality or even a breath of fresh air into an overused genre – not to mention the boys themselves looked uncomfortable in front of the camera. Still, is there such thing as a perfect debut? There was definite potential and Jungle Entertainment has produced some of the most influential names in Korean hip-hop. You will do great things I murmured at the screen, and then promptly forgot all about them.
Until now. “Celebrate” is a song about having moved on from a past relationship; in fact they revel in the fact they are free to party and do what (and who I suspect) whenever they like. Angsty reflection this isn’t; I haven’t heard such an upbeat break-up song in a long time. There is such a sense of relief and, well, celebration, that it’s nigh on impossible to listen without a smile on your face. With almost everything they have released so far it’s nothing if not catchy, the chorus of “I say A A A A it feels so good man” has me joining in every time and the beat has a simple hand clap loop that merges into a steady bass, perfect for head-nodding or even full on body-popping. The rapping and singing isn’t the best I’ve ever heard, but they work well together.
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the song is the guest vocals of hip-hop queen Yoon Mi Rae. Known as the “Queen of Soul” (and married to Tiger JK, now there’s a badass couple) she is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest female rappers ever on the Korean music scene – her last single “Get It In” showed us she wasn’t quite ready to hand over that crown to the likes of CL, and I love CL. The closest comparison I can make is maybe BEG’s Miyro. While she didn’t rap her vocals slide into the song perfectly, not to mention she added some seriously impressive credentials to M.I.B, it was good of her to support and encourage her labelmates. So it was a real pity she wasn’t featured in the MV. I understand that the schedule of an idol, heck of a mother, can be demanding and she probably just didn’t have the time. Still, I would have liked to see her, if only because every time she appears on my computer screen my own swag levels increase slightly. Yeah, she’s that good.
Still, M.I.B held it on their own, they have improved so much since “G.D.M”, you get the feeling they had real fun filming this MV, and who wouldn’t – the coloured power, glitter and glow-in-the-dark paint would keep me happy for days. There no plot, the boys are simply rapping and singing to the camera like it is the girl they have broken up it, as well as taunting a woman in a bejewelled gasmask, presumably the same girl. Yeah, you heard that right. Bejewelled. Gasmask. I knew about them before through designer Diddo Velema but these ones didn’t look like you could even see out of them very well, leaving the girl completely faceless. Whether this was to show how unimportant and easily forgotten she is, or maybe they just couldn’t find any good-looking girls I don’t know – probably the former. It also protected her face against the powder paint they threw at her, otherwise I would feel pretty uncomfortable watching their glee.
Unfortunately the effects looked pretty tacky and low-budget, for instance the background swirls and the multiple versions of the boys seemed like something an over-excitable blogger might do if they though themselves a dab hand at graphics. Also, I can’t tell if it was the light or the make-up but they looked like they had rubbed themselves in baby oil; and not in the sexy way, in the slightly greasy teenage boy way. Luckily this wasn’t a problem for the whole video and the rest of the time they looked pretty good, even though they kept wearing sunglasses indoor, which is my nails on chalkboard when it comes to MVs. The camera work was adequate, relaying a little too much on very fast flicker-frame to cover any shoddy angles.
Considering this is the group that got $1.7 million spent on them, the MV feels just the wrong side of low budget, but it proves you don’t need incredibly fashion forward outfits or complicated plots or intricate dance numbers to pull off an enjoyable and relevant MV, it fitted the tone of the song and lyrics perfectly. When so many MVs are filled with poker faces, OTT angst or strained aegyo “Celebrate” reminds us that music is essentially about fun – and that’s far more refreshing then the most mind-blowing concept. It’s that feeling of pure joy and a bit of a hip-hop smirk that means I’ll be listening and watching M.I.B far more closely than before.