20150409_seoulbeats_unprettyrapstargroupWhen we last left the competition, the rappers teamed up as duos for a shot to participate in the semi-finals. At the end of the team battles, Jace of Miss $ and Tymee were eliminated, leaving only six to battle it out for the last track of the Unpretty Rapstar compilation album.

Starting off, the rappers file into a room, noting how empty it feels without Jace and Tymee. San E enters and compliments the rappers, which surprises them because of his previous comments about Jimin being the “pretty” rap star. This light mood is quickly dampened with some news: They’ll be evaluating each other’s skills in an open vote again. Despite the eye-rolling protest from the contestants, the camera footage of their votes plays out to everyone’s dismay.

In the confessionals, each rapper comments on their thoughts of each other’s votes. Yuk Ji-dam felt she was being underestimated for her age, and Jessi thought some of the rappers were only voting for their friends. In the end, Cheetah came out on top, allowing her first choice of opponents. She picks Jimin to settle their rap battle score since they’ve both won against each other in previous challenges. Jessi decides to take on Jolly V, leaving Yuk Ji-dam to battle against Kisum.

The theme for the semi-finals is “Real Me.” Cheetah recounts the story of being comatose after she was hit by a bus. Her parents had to choose between two difficult surgeries to save her life, and they opted for the riskier procedure that wouldn’t leave her disabled. This was her inspiration for her song “Coma 07.”

Jimin’s backstory for her song “Puss” centered around her experience as an idol rapper. She laments to her group members in AOA about the discrimination she feels because of her role as an idol. For her semi-final performance, she pulls out all the stops with backup dancers and a special appearance by Iron. San E shows up to give the results for Cheetah vs. Jimin, but those are saved for the final episode.

This brings us to Jolly V and Jessi’s rap battle. Jolly V goes up first and recounts her hardships as a contestant on the show. She talks about the impact of negative netizen comments, and how she wishes people would get to know her outside of the show. Her experience with online bullying is the backdrop for her rap “It’s All Good.”

Next is Jessi, who visits her friend Jay Park at his agency. She’s there to get assistance from AOMG artist Gray to produce her track. The title of her song is “Unpretty Dreams,” and she gained inspiration from her parents. Apparently, Jessi caused her parents some grief when they first moved to South Korea. As she grew older, her love of music lessened her bad behavior, and she addresses that in her track.

After their performances, it’s time for the audience to vote between Jessi and Jolly V. Jessi beats Jolly V by a wide margin, but Jessi isn’t entirely thrilled by her victory. She felt Jolly V had the better performance, as did Jolly V herself. Regardless of their personal thoughts on who was better, the audience chose Jessi as a finalist.

The last match-up is between Yuk Ji-dam and Kisum. Yuk Ji-dam explains how Yoon Mi-rae‘s “Black Happiness” got her into hip-hop. Yuk Ji-dam raps about how she wants to show her improvement after Show Me the Money 3 for her song “On and On,” featuring 15&‘s Baek Yerin.

Yuk Ji-dam’s opponent Kisum speaks about the hardships her mother endured while she pursued her passion in music. She wishes to earn enough money to allow her mother to quit her job. Not one to be shown up, Kisum has her own secret weapon for her stage: Insooni. Kisum’s song “Mom” causes a lot of tears backstage from the other rappers.

We can’t forget “this is a competition,” as Jessi said before, so now the audience votes for their favorite rappers. Yuk Ji-dam triumphs over Kisum, and the delayed results for Cheetah versus Jimin show Cheetah as the victor. Jessi, Yuk Ji-dam, and Cheetah are finalists for the last track.

The rappers are still kept in the dark about the final producer, but they meet their collaborator for the track — Ailee. She’s also there to perform with them for the finals. After practicing together, the finalists discuss their feelings about being on Unpretty Rapstar. They all entered with trepidation and fear but emerged as stronger artists because of the show.

Before their last performance, San E reveals the producer for the final track: MC Mong. He doesn’t make an appearance, and that’s likely tied to his complicated past. Regardless, the rappers proceed with their stage and put on a rousing show. The audience votes during their performance, and Cheetah wins, but it’s not over. San E drops another bomb and says there is another vote to determine the winner. The audience votes again, and the results are the same. Cheetah is given the last track.

20150409_seoulbeats_yukjidam_jessi_cheetahThere is a lot to say about Unpretty Rapstar as a whole, but let’s condense the main points. First, San E should never host another show again. He is clearly uncomfortable in the role, and most of his comments towards the contestants came off sleazy rather than cheeky.

Secondly, I hope they get female mentors if another season happens. Some of the competitors expressed a willingness to return as mentors or judges, so the producers should take them up on the offer. Also, that double voting thing in the finals made no sense whatsoever. It was clearly a cheap attempt to build suspense.

Cheetah consistently delivered, so I was beyond thrilled when she won. In fact, it appears all of the rappers gained more respect after the show. Some are already making the variety show rounds with appearances on Happy Together and Taxi, as well as showing up in pictorials. Jessi is featuring on a song with Park Jin-young for his upcoming album, and Sistar‘s Bora is collaborating with Lil Cham, Kisum, and Jace.

It appears that the show succeeded in giving some relatively unknown names a second chance to redeem themselves. It started off as a questionable concept that some of us feared would lead nowhere and turned into a show proving female rappers deserve as much respect as their male counterparts. The last episode hinted at a possible second season, which would be awesome. Hopefully, Unpretty Rapstar inspires more female rappers to reach for their dreams.

(YouTube, Nate, Naver, Images via Mnet)