“Haters gonna hate” is probably one of the most overused phrases in pop culture. While the word “hate” used to be a strong word, the repetitiveness of it has caused it to lose some of the significance it had, rendering it as a slightly hollow insult. “Hater” is now used to describe almost everyone, from those who are unsupportive of others to those who throw out spiteful words and carry out vicious attacks. Today, the term “hater” is a vernacular to the general audience.

Does that mean that the repeated use of the phrase is bad? Not necessarily. Some may argue that the phrase is clichéd and meaningless now, and that may be true — yet, we can’t ignore fact that “haters gonna hate” has inspired many artists to create one too many songs dedicated to their haters who are going to, well, hate. The compelling, energetic sentiment is one of the persuasive fuels that drives music.

One of the examples would be T-ara N4’s “Jeon Won Diary”. Like most songs about haters, the lyrics talk about how their audiences shouldn’t criticise everything they do in their personal lives, since it doesn’t affect them.

So ridiculous, uh, it’s my prerogative
I’ll do whatever I want, what do you care?
You don’t even know, it’s my prerogative
I’m doing just fine
So why are you butting in?
Please utter your words elsewhere
Will you just shhh
And mind your own business?

And more explicitly,

Mind your own business
Why you hating,
Why why you hating?

With an upbeat instrumental, “Jeon Won Diary”’s straightforward lyrics are directed at the doubters who are antagonistic towards the group and its members for no reason. The repetitiveness of “Why you hating?” and “It’s my prerogative […] why do you care?” drives home the idea that some haters viciously dispute the actions of the members without constructive reasoning. The song also mentions feeling upset and bothered due to the comments made by and the actions of their haters, and rhetorically asks why T-ara N4’s personal lives matter so much to a group of people who supposedly dislike them.

As opposed to T-ara N4 asking their haters why they spend their time hating them, the members of Epik High directly tell their haters to screw off in “420”. With an aggressive beat and just as aggressive lyrics, Epik High (featuring Dok2, Double K, Yankie, Sean2Slow, Dumbfoundead, TopBob and MYK) throws out hostile lyrics at those calling them irrelevant. It’s an explicit diss track for those who look down on these rappers who have risen from the underground rap scene to be the well-known rappers they are today. “420” demands for the acknowledgment that establishing themselves as rappers didn’t come without sacrifices. The rappers call their haters “dust” to emphasise the fact that their presence is minuscule and fleeting, and that their opinion doesn’t matter as much as they think it does. Tablo shouts out a line that consciously calls out his haters, saying that despite the hate he’s the one earning money and getting rich.

On the road to the riches…
So fuck y’all bitches!

Dok2 also reiterates the message of the song by exclaiming the following:

I’ll show you
The price of my dreams that I’ll guard till I become ashes.

BTS, too, have released multiple songs directed at haters who cannot accept their success. in “Mic Drop”, BTS rap and sing about how they’re not even bothered by the presence of their haters, because their hate is insignificant in comparison to the love they receive. In contrast to the cyphers that they have released, where the rappers belittle their haters, “Mic Drop” indirectly tells their haters to keep on hating if they want to, because they’re still clinching awards and climbing the ladder. Suga raps, “You would’ve thought we’d fail, but I’m fine sorry.” The chorus reiterates the idea that haters don’t matter in the bigger picture of all the support and achievements that they have. The repetition of multiple key phrases, especially in the chorus, brings our attention to the mocking lyrics that they have towards their haters.

Did you see my bag?
Did you see my bag?
It’s full of trophies
How you think ‘bout that?
How you think ‘bout that?
Haters are already fed up.

Yes, the standard trope of “haters gonna hate” may be overused and clichéd and meaningless, but it still serves as a form of self-defence towards comments and actions that the artists have no control over. When there is nothing you can do to stop uncalled-for, unhelpful and irrelevant comments, the best thing to do is to pretend that the nasty comments don’t get under our skins. “Haters gonna hate” is the easiest mantra to chant (or sing, or rap) when it all gets a little too much, especially in this age of instantaneous online comments and the power to make almost anything go viral.

(Lyrics via Colour Coded Lyrics, Bangtan Subs, daechungpower, Images via MBK EntertainmentYG EntertainmentBigHit Entertainment)