Leader of the popular group, Big Bang. Youngest rapper who participated in the Korean Hip Hop Flex album. One of the 8 greatest songwriters chosen in 2008. Penetrator of all music portal sites with every single song on his solo album. Record-maker of album sales for 2009. Fashionista. Target of ‘sexual suggestion’ controversies at his concert.
There are a lot of ways to describe G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23). But not many people know the story behind it; the story of the boy who consistently ran towards his pure and only dream of music, the hidden story of the hard times living in a slightly different world to others. Through this long interview, we found out what he went through to become the much loved leader and artist of a group, from a young boy who just love music and dancing.
People who have been close to G-Dragon for a while, said he is ‘very precise and sincere’. He even checked minor details on album jackets and checked the view of the stage from the third floor in concert venues.
He is a target of criticism at the moment because of one of his performances at his first solo concert. The sexy performance of his song ‘Breathe’ has stirred up much unneeded controversy.
”I’m a mainstream singer and I think it’s right that I have to follow the public’s standards. Even if it wasn’t my intention, if it was a bit over the top and people found it offensive, it’s my fault. I just wanted to leave a strong impression on my fans because it was a concert performance not a publicly televised music show. It’s sad and disappointing that the reactions were different to what I intended.”
It was an emotional experience for Jiyong to prepare his first solo concert. It was a stage he had dreamed about for 10 years since the young age of 13, when he first entered YG Entertainment. He concerned himself with all the minor details; the images on the projector, the stage, the views from every corner of the audience. Performing as Big Bang was nerve wracking too, but performing as an individual singer by himself in a solo concert meant so much to him that it can’t be described in words.
”It seems like this solo concert was the thing I was running towards all this time. It might be because I’m young, but after my first concert I thought ‘I have no regrets’. But I went on the internet the very next day and only the ‘suggestive’ bits had been magnified. I was crushed.”
He confessed he felt total frustration and despair when he saw that only one aspect of the concerts that he had put his all into had been magnified. Was it really too much for him to want to show his audience varieties, especially when it was the only chance he had?
”I wondered ‘Am I destined to be bashed no matter what I do?’, and forced laughter came out rather than tears. I didn’t want it to turn out like this. I just wanted to show a variety of different images of me to my audience. I showed a lot of different images at the concert, I showed cuteness, liveliness, stylishness. Why would they exaggerate that one part? The titles of the articles by the media were all so severe. I was upset and ashamed that my parents might see them.”
Though the people who attended the concert and watched the whole thing could easily tell he’d poured his heart and soul into it, but what about the others who only read the biased articles magnifying only the ‘suggestive’ parts in their compressed, fragmented articles? It would’ve added to the prejudice people already have of him.
”I was thoughtless. But regardless of that, I wish people wouldn’t judge by one small fragment of the whole picture. The song ‘Breathe’ is about not wanting to wake up because the woman of your dreams keeps appearing. It’s about dreaming, and I was trying to express getting lost in my dreams. That’s why the bed was there, but in the end what the public saw was a ‘sex demonstration’. I was embarrassed and confused; that was when I finally thought ‘This isn’t me, but I see now that it looked that way to the people.’”
Anyone who has been on the internet knows the modern world distorts everything. Many people will also agree that it is wrong to judge a decade of precious passion and effort of an artist based on a single screen cap.
”Whether I’m being criticized or complimented, in the end I think they’re still giving me their interest and attention. I have to humbly accept it when people point out my faults because it’ll help me improve myself. I guess the only way I can be make up for it is by doing well in my next album. I’ve decided to brace myself and put my all into the Big Bang album which will be released this year.”
First step to the Entertainment Industry and Experience as trainee in SM
It’s a widely known fact that G-Dragon (Kwon Jiyong, 23) was part of the “Mini RooRa” group when he was younger. As a part of the “Mini RooRa” Kwon Jiyong was literally like an ‘Angel With Lost Wings’ [one of Roora’s hit songs]. We asked him what it was like for him to enter show business at such a young age.
“My first time on TV was on MBC’s “BboBboBbo” [popular kids’ show]. The spot that all the kids wanted to be in was next to the “BBomi Unni” [host of the show, changes every few years] but because I danced so enthusiastically (I’ve loved dancing ever since I was little), that spot always belonged to me.
I think that’s where RooRa’s management company first saw me. This was when the RooRa sunbaenims [seniors] were promoting ‘Angel With Lost Wings’ and they came up with the whole “Mini RooRa” idea. We wore the same outfits and went on concert tours with them. We even released a Christmas carol CD even though our accents were really bad. (laughs)”
As time passed and RooRa’s popularity began to fade, “Mini Roora” came to break apart. And the young G-Dragon was very shocked by this.
“When they said there wasn’t gonna be a “Mini Roora” from tomorrow on, I was really shocked at a young age. I thought we’d keep going and I would become a singer just like that. I remember telling my mum that I don’t wanna do stuff like this anymore. That’s when I started studying and going to cram schools like normal kids.”
But even though he tried to hide them, it seems his star qualities still made him stand out. When he went skiing with his family and coincidentally came to participate in a dance competition there, he out-shined a lot of older hyungs and came first. The host of that event happened to be Lee Soo Man, president of SM Entertainment company. He recognised G-Dragon’s talent and took him in as an SM trainee. The five years he spent training under SM was about the same period as when H.O.T came to popularity and S.E.S, BoA and Shinhwa were preparing for debut.
“When I signed a contract with SM and came in as a trainee, it was before the company became so big and famous so instead of coming to practise every day, I would come maybe once a month or even once every three months. The people at SM probably don’t remember me though. I didn’t stand out very much since I was only enthusiastic when it came to dancing. And I had ‘Prankster’ written all over my face, though I wouldn’t consider myself good looking now either. I could dance a bit but I wasn’t a very good singer so I think it must’ve been difficult for the company to do anything with me at the time. I remembered sitting on the Shinhwa hyungs’ laps and playing with them, though I doubt they remember. (laughs)”
G-Dragon, who didn’t have a clear musical goal even as an SM trainee, received a huge shock in 3rd grade when he first heard Black music at his best friend’s house. The music that he was particularly drawn to was that of the Wu-Tang Clan. He naturally came to find an academy where he could learn to rap freestyle, which also happened to be where People Crew practised.
First Year in YG
After hearing the American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan’s music, G-Dragon found an academy that taught how to rap freestyle. It also happened to be where People Crew(MC Mong’s was a former member) regularly practised and he soon became close with the hyungs in People Crew.
“When they saw a little kid had come to learn to rap, the hyungs were amazed and found me really cute. I appeared on a cable programme that the hyungs hosted and played around a bit on TV. I was given many learning opportunities, like getting to take part in the ‘2001 Korean HipHopFlex’ Album.”
As the youngest rapper at the age of 13, it would’ve been a huge deal for G-Dragon to be able to take part in an album made by the greatest Korean hip hop artists of the time.
“During the production of the HipHopFlex album, I wrote my own lyrics and recorded them. The hyungs saw my lyrics and said “That’s pretty good”. But since I ‘d never lived overseas or anything, my English sucked so the content of my rap was really typical. You know, something along the lines of ‘I may be young but I’m the best’. (laughs)”
To think that the young G-Dragon featured in the title track and wrote his own solo track, the album became a chance to introduce the world to the child called G-Dragon. It was around about the same time when Bow Wow was popular in America and young artists like BoA and Ryang Hyun Ryang Ha were starting to appear in the Korean music industry. YG Entertainment’s President Yang Hyun Seok didn’t let this child rapper slip through his fingers.
“I heard that JinuSean’s Sean hyung saw me and tipped off President Yang Hyung Seok. Perry, one of the main producers also liked me and said he would try producing for me. When I first went to meet the President, I was so nervous that ‘OMG I’m meeting Yang Hyun Seok’. Cos I’d liked Yang Hyun Seok best out of ‘Seo Taiji and Boys’. I liked how fashionable he was, like wearing gloves with short sleeve T-shirts, and he was the best dancer too. But as soon as I saw him, it really broke the image I’d had of him. Even from far away I could hear someone’s slippers dragging across the ground, and then when he got to me, he said “So you’re here” in that unique accent of his. He seemed more like an uncle from the neighborhood than Seo Taiji and Boys’ Yang Hyun Seok.”
After this Yang Hyun Seok went on to persuasively describe his plans for G-dragon to the young GD and his mother, and when his mother had left the room he half-threatened GD to ‘”whine and beg to join YG when your mum comes back”.
“I went home and cried so hard that my mother let me sign a contract with YGE. At the time when I was 13, a few of YG’s active artists were JinuSean, 1TYM and Lexy. When I first went into the office I think Dongwook (Se7en) hyung, who was dressed all hip-hop and cool, was playing around with some of the employee nunas. They were some of the prettiest people I’d ever seen.”
G-Dragon started off by cleaning the practice room. Mopping the floor, cleaning the mirrors with newspaper and running errands for the sunbaes [seniors] became G-Dragon’s job.
“I would watch the sunbaenims practise and give them water during their breaks, collect plates left after eating delivered food, and cleaned like hell for a year. When I arrived I would clean for an hour, practise for about two hours and cleaned for another hour. That was my routine.”
Just before he turned 14, G-Dragon featured in the title track of Perry’s solo album and was able to experience performing on stage by appearing on live music shows and doing concerts with the hyungs. It was during this time that he met fellow Big Bang member Taeyang, who was chosen to play the role of the other half of mini-JinuSean.
GDYB During Trainee Days
So G-Dragon (Real name Kwon Jiyong), along with current fellow Big Bang member Taeyang (Real name Dong Youngbae) came to play the role of the younger JinuSean for their music video for ‘A-Yo’. These two thirteen year old children with a common interest in music quickly became friends.
“When I first saw Youngbae, there was just something about him that made me think “Huh! Who’s he?” We became friends just like that. We’ve never had a fight before, maybe because we have totally opposite personalities. When I was younger I was really withdrawn and came to gain confidence during puberty, but Youngbae was really out there when he was young and has now become quiet and serious. The young Youngbae was so full of energy and confident, he said to President Yang Hyun Seok “I want to join YG” with no hesitation whatsoever.”
The next month, Taeyang went to the President’s office in the YG Entertainment building and said “I’m here because it’s been a month and you haven’t contacted me”. President YG liked how daring he was and took him in as a trainee. To G-Dragon, Taeyang joining YG meant the appearance of a friend who he could lean on during his tough trainee days. Though they were the same age, they became close friends, who could look each other for support rather than rivals.
“Even mopping is better when someone else is doing it with you. We had loads of fun back then. A lot of good memories. Even now, when we’re alone we laugh and cry as we talk about when we were little. It makes me happy.”
There were a lot of hard times during their trainee days. Their futures were not guaranteed and even the smallest hurts were agonising at times.
“Since we were the maknaes [youngest], there were a lot of hard times. We would go as guests to sunbaenims’ [senior] concerts or be ‘substitutes’ if anyone pulled out at the last minute. Once, Wheesung hyung was meant to be a guest at Se7en hyung’s concert but he couldn’t go because of his schedule so we were sent instead. We had to take our own clothes too. We would take a huge bag full of clothes and catch the subway along with people going to see the concert, then we’d perform and catch the subway back with the same people going home. We would hear them whisper “Hey, aren’t they those kids from the concert?”. It was kind of embarrassing cos although we looked cool while performing, we always looked so sloppy afterwards.”
One time, they had to wait at the Jamshil Station for the whole day with their huge bags. The manager who was supposed to pick them up from the station and take them to the concert (as dancers substitutes) had totally forgotten about them.
“Hyung said he’d come by 11am but it was 6pm and he still wasn’t here. We didn’t even know his phone number. But back then if we were told to wait, we had no choice but to wait. So we were waiting for ages but decided to go back home on the last train. The next day we met him and asked what happened, and he said “I forgot.” The dancers had come after all so he’d forgotten about us. We just said “Oh, I see” and went back to cleaning, but we were so sad.”
G-Dragon became angrily determined to be properly acknowledged within the company and debut.
“I was hesitant to join Idol Group”
During his YG trainee days, G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Ji Yong, 23) dreamed of forming a hip hop duo with Taeyang (Real name: Dong Young Bae, 23) The company was also silently planning to tie the two together to make a group.
”I think it was when I was in my second year of high school. They said they were going to make a group called ‘Big Bang’. When I first joined YG, I signed my contract as an individual so I practised as hard as I did thinking I would go solo or do a duo with Taeyang, but then they go and tell us we’ll be in an IDOL GROUP called ‘Big Bang’. This was back when I had prejudice towards ‘idol’ groups, so it made me wonder ‘Why idols from a company based on hip hop?’”
Being told he would debut as part of an ‘idol’ group came as a huge shock for G-Dragon, who had hoped to debut ‘YG Family style’.
“I didn’t want to dance the same dance as others. I wanted to dance my own dance. I’m not prejudiced towards ‘idol’ groups now, but back then Taeyang and I thought “We didn’t hold on through all those hard times for this, this isn’t what we wanted”. Wearing the same clothes, dancing the same dance. I didn’t even want to think about it. The two of us talked a lot about things like ‘Do we have to move agencies?’ and ‘Is this really the right way for us?’”
The first member to join after the confirmation of ‘Big Bang’s formation was Top (Real name: Choi Seung Hyun, 24). G-Dragon played a large part in getting Top to become a member of ‘Big Bang’.
”Top hyung was originally my friend. He was a neighborhood friend from intermediate. We became friends dancing and rapping in the neighborhood together and grew apart when I moved, but I contacted him again [about Big Bang]. Top hyung said “Awesome, that’s my dream”, and we made a demo CD together. He would make it and mail it to me, then I would see if it fit YG’s style. After going back and forth a couple of times like that, I took it to the President and he said he wanted to meet Top hyung.”
But Top’s chubby appearance at the time lead President Yang Hyun Seok to draw the conclusion that he was unsuitable as a member of an ‘idol group’ and sent him back. However Top returned 6 months later, having changed beyond recognition.
Bigbang nickname was “What do we do”
The first member of Big Bang aside from G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23) and Taeyang (Real name: Dong Youngbae, 23) to be mentioned was Top (Real name: Choi Seunghyun, 24). But YG Entertainment’s President Yang Hyun Seok thought his chubby demeanor made him unsuitable to join the group.
”Top hyung exercised like crazy for six months and returned after losing a lot of weight. I asked ‘Why have you lost so much weight?’ and he said ‘I exercised really hard because I wanted to join YG’. He redid his audition and of course he made it this time.”
Next came Seungri (Real name: Lee Seunghyun, 20) who was eliminated in the last round of an Mnet programme called ‘Battle Shinhwa’, then Daesung (Real name: Kang Daesung, 22) who was chosen for his bright smile.
”Hyunseung, who is currently a member of Beast was originally one of our members too. The 6 of us including Hyunseung practised together and lived together for a while. At first it was difficult at first to have six people who had led completely different lives to live in one house; our personalities clashed and there was a lot of intimidation. But during the happy times, it really felt like we’d become a family. I think it took about a year and a half though. I think it’s thanks to those times that we can understand each other just by looking at each others’ eyes now.”
They overcame the bickering to build teamwork, and plans for Big Bang’s debut were launched. The company decided to create a ‘survival’ documentary showing the candidates for Big Bang. They planned to show the existence of the group and gain fans by airing ‘Real Docu BIGBANG’ through Gom TV.MTV Korea, which turned out to be a success.
”As well as the uncommon fact that YG was making an idol group, the survival-style documentary program seemed to interest fans too. Since that was back when there weren’t any ‘real variety’ shows. It was before our debut so we all felt really pressured at the time. We were being watched by millions of people and we didn’t even have our own song or dance as a group! People at YG would always look at us and say ‘What do we do with them?’, and soon our group’s nickname became ‘What do we do’. (laughs)”
Hyunseung was eliminated in the end, and the remaining members received a huge shock. However they concentrated on making an album as fans watched and waited, and slowly created the image of Big Bang.
The Popularity after Debut
So after raising awareness of their existence through “Real Docu Big Bang”, a documentary showing the survival-style process of creating a skill-based idol group, Big Bang started preparing an album with the hopes of debuting in 2006. At that time, G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23) had no choice but to study for his college entrance exams and prepare his album at the same time, each of which is difficult enough on its own.
“‘Singers are stupid, they’re just puppets of their agencies’… I didn’t like prejudices like that. I wanted to be a singer who could express his thoughts. President Yang Hyunseok thought the same, so he wouldn’t let me practise if I didn’t get over 80% in any school tests.”
Even as he concentrated on practising, G-Dragon refused to become careless in his school activities and relationships with his friends.
“Like everyone else, I would cram at the last minute whenever there was a test. I would stay up the whole night the day before and then go to school the next day. I was too sneaky for my own good…(laughs). I didn’t like how people think celebrities think they’re too good to have normal friends, so I’d approach kids first and make friends with them. I acted like a bit of an idiot sometimes; I’d always pester my friends to buy me food too.”
G-Dragon, who could apparently seem like “a bit of an idiot” when he wasn’t focusing on his work, was able to maintain a normal and healthy relationship with his school friends.
“During exam periods, my friends helped me a lot by lending me their notebooks and stuff. My teachers would always cheer me on about preparing to become a singer too, and my parents were so proud that I wasn’t abandoning my schoolwork. For these reasons, even though it was hard at the time, when I look back on it I think I did the right thing.”
Thanks to the help of many people combined with the effort of the members, they managed to debut successfully. But although they became so much more well-known after their debut, G-Dragon felt like his popularity wasn’t his own.
“Because of our abrupt popularity so soon after our debut, there were a lot of people saying things like “it’s because of the company” and “that just shows what the agency is capable of”. Since it is true that no matter how talented the singer is, it’s difficult for them to gain popularity if they’re signed to a small agency. I was relieved to receive some spotlight after working in the industry for so long, but I thought to myself that I must never get too cocky.”
As a matter of fact, G-Dragon was actually worried about his sudden popularity as he had watched the ups and downs of the entertainment industry from a young age. After deciding that skill was the only way he would be accepted by the public and survive, he decided to become a harsh and criticising leader to his team.
“Lies” for Bigbang
After their debut, the group ‘Big Bang’ received much attention for being a “skill-based idol group”. Since they did their own writing, composing, choreography and even styling, they were considered ‘new concept’ idols. This group that wore black clothes with painted faces, tilted hats and looked like they belonged in a dark alleyway soon gained the nickname of ‘the Dark Idols’.
”Early after our debut, I made all the members work even harder. It was my job as a leader, so I had no choice but to play the bad guy. When people see me outside of work they say I’m a fool, but when I’m working I calculate everything because I’m very timid like most blood-type A’s. I keep telling myself that I have to pay attention and be serious. People tell me that I get this look in my eyes when I’m working.”
During break times, he’s just an immature hyung who likes playing annoying pranks but when they’re working, he’s scary and doesn’t hesitate to give criticism. Though he’s usually more disarranged than his maturer dongsaengs Daesung and Seungri, he’s a strict perfectionist when it comes to work.
”I practised really hard, and wrote songs furiously. I actually wrote ‘Lies’ to use as my solo piece. ‘Cos we were really into house music [techno/electronica] at the time. President Yang had gone to Japan or Hong Kong then so I emailed the song to him. I was embarrassed because I’d just written it and I thought he’d criticise it but he called not even 5 minutes after I’d sent it. He said ‘This is it! This is the one. I’m really sorry but forget your solo and let’s use it as a Big Bang song. It’s going to be the title track.’”
The first thing G-Dragon felt was disappointment. He had been promised solo promotions, and he didn’t know how long he would have to wait now. As an artist and an individual, disappointment was inevitable.
”I’d spent days and nights writing that song, and I had to rewrite it as a song the group could sing together. He’d basically said ‘This isn’t your song, it’s Big Bang’s’. I’d made the music since our first album, and as a producer I did think that Big Bang was more important, but I still found myself tearing up.”
So the 20 year old G-Dragon stared vacantly out his window one dawn, watching the day grow brighter.
What’s with President Yang?
So once YG Entertainment’s President Yang Hyun Seok decided the song G-Dragon had written for himself, ‘Lies’ would be used as a Big Bang song, G-Dragon started to rewrite it for the group.
”I felt so weak knowing I had to rewrite it from the beginning. Still, I did it and showed the other members, worrying about whether they’d like it or not. It was a lot different to the music we’d done til then so at first the members just looked really blank after hearing it. I was sitting there quietly thinking ‘They don’t like it? Oh well I can’t do anything about that. Then Taeyang said ‘Let’s do it!’”
G-Dragon still doesn’t know what emotions the other members felt at the time. Just the fact that he was letting them hear a song he had written for his own solo made him nervous. In other words, he was worried about what the other members might think of the piece he had written based on his own taste.
”I was nervous. Of letting them hear… But after editing the lyrics and giving it to them so they could work out their own parts, things unraveled nicely. Our President has crazy instincts. If he tells us we should release something at a particular time or something, it always gives us the best possible results.”
G-Dragon would write countless songs and President Yang would listen and choose the best. President Yang was usually more like an easy-going neighborhood hyung or uncle but when it came to work he had the best ear for music and trends.
”I think HyunSeok hyung has psychic powers. (laughs) After listening to a bunch of songs, he’ll just sit there without a word, rolling his eyes once in a while and he’ll decide not only what songs to use but when to release them too. If I send him all the songs I’ve written, he cuts them down. Sometimes he doesn’t even listen to a song for a second. Rather than calculating it, he sort of just goes ‘No not this’ or ‘I have a good feeling about this one’. Every song he’s said he has a ‘good feeling about’ has been a huge hit. It’s really scary and constantly makes me wonder ‘What’s with this person??’”
President Yang is a good hyung, teacher, and secret hill to G-Dragon. Because he himself was once a singer, he is a President who understands how his singers feel. Their hardships, what gives them strengths…He has made a good system based on these things.
”The music we want to do, the clothes we want to wear, the performances we want to do..he lets us do it all. In the end, ‘Lies’ turned out to be a huge hit because I did what he said. hehe”
“I just don’t know where it ends”
Most of the songs G-Dragon has written have gone on to be huge hits (‘Daebak’ s). The song ‘Lies’ on Big Bang’s first mini album (released in 2007) which he had originally written for himself became a massive hit, as did ‘Last Farewell’, ‘Haru Haru’ and ‘Sunset Glow’ to follow.
”Even though people kept telling us we’d become ‘a huge hit’, it didn’t feel like it at all because we weren’t allowed to go out. The only places we’d go were broadcasting stations, our dormitory and the practice rooms. We were still nothing but kids and people continued to say “what do we do with them?”. Even though we kept getting number 1, we didn’t feel any different. When the audience cheered and clapped for us, we just thought ‘it’s only because we’re singers’. Whenever we went on stage people would clap, but we wouldn’t be able tell at all since we’d be singing.” [poorly worded]
There’s a saying that celebrities often hear, and repeat to themselves over and over again: “next time is the most important”.
”I think that’s what’s hardest about being a celebrity. Even if we do really well, it’s always ‘next time is more important’. Normal people might think being a celebrity is easy, but it really isn’t.”
Even when they’re on hiatus, celebrities can’t let their guard down. Anxiety in the form of thoughts like ‘I must try even harder’, ‘I can’t give up now’, ‘The next is always more important’ continue to taunt them.
”I just don’t know where it ends. Whenever we see fans who say ‘Big Bang helps us build our dreams’, I realise ‘Man this really isn’t just a joke’. I feel increased responsibility.”
However the Big Bang members aren’t really the type for excessive breaks anyway. When they’re given a holiday, they spend the first couple of days at home before crawling back to the practice rooms because they have nothing to do.
”It’s not like we plan it or anything but even during our days off we see each other dancing or writing lyrics…Practice is like a regular part of our lives now. That’s why we write more songs than others and have more to choose from. I think we’ve come this far because we don’t want to disappoint our fans.”
Even through the times where he had no choice but to run, G-Dragon learned to keep his balance with the thought and determination not to disappoint his fans. We finally start to feel and understand what it was he ran so hard for.
“After working as individuals, I think we’ve become closer”
It is uncommon for people to know the individual talents and names of each member in an idol group, especially now that they are pretty much flooding the music industry. If one person stands out, another tends to be shunted aside. But Big Bang is one of those rare groups where every member plays their individual role in the group so well that they stand out as a whole.
”If you look at normal idol groups, they usually have one, or sometimes even up to three members who are given all the attention and the rest of them kind of just blend in. And the maknaes aren’t allowed to talk. But we take turns being the one in the spotlight; it was me in our first album and Taeyang in our second.”
Because Yang Hyun Seok believed that singer groups lasted longer if each member was given a chance to show their individuality and ambitions, Big Bang’s members were able to distinguish themselves by showing their talents in various fields. It is also crucial for passionate youths like them to be active in their lines of specialty.
”My forte would be writing and composing while Taeyang’s is looking and dancing like a foreign singer. To put it straight, he’s got style and a sort of moderate beauty. Cute Seungri does his musicals, Daesung showed prominence in variety shows and Top is becoming more and more determined to show himself as an actor through dramas and movies.
After working as individuals, I think we’ve become even closer. We admire each other a lot more too and the topics of our conversations contain way more variety nowadays. We’re more relaxed now, not as in we’ve gotten cocky but as in we feel like we can see further now.”
While the other members continued to show different sides of themselves in their various fields, G-Dragon consistently worked on his solo album. The thought that no one knows how many years it would be until his next solo album, and that this might be the last chance to show Kwon Jiyong as a person kept him going.
“My Solo Album was a Gamble”
Kwon Jiyong’s ‘Heartbreaker’ saw the light of this world on August 18, 2009. This day also happened to be G-Dragon’s birthday.
”It was actually scheduled to be out in April, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like a piece of work that I’d been looking forward to for ten years; there was just something missing. I didn’t know how long it would be till my turn to go solo came again. That one album was a gamble for me.”
During the preparation of his solo album, Big Bang started Japanese promotions. During the months they were active there, if there was nothing on G-Dragon’s schedule for even a single day, he would fly back to Korea to work on the album and fly back at night. While the other members felt the freedom of being able to shop and have fun without being watched or followed, G-Dragon was out of his mind looking for performance outfits.
”Writing songs, buying performance outfits, being at meetings via webcam. I think my album was the only thing I was thinking about for 24 hours a day. I wanted to make an album that I had contributed to as much as possible. I wanted people to think not just that it’s been ‘made’, but ‘Kwon Jiyong made this’. I even went a little over the top by concerning over things like font, colour and decoration. I wanted to release an album that seemed more like a wrapped up gift than a normal, standard CD. So that people can open the case like a present and anticipate what might be inside, even if its not expensive. I think the album designers might’ve thought I was a bit weird; I would call in the middle of the night whenever I got a new idea. (laughs)”
He became totally immersed in working on his album.
”Heartbreaker is about being hurt by love. To express that my heart had been crushed, I made all the dancers wear my mask and do different dances. It was to show different emotions coming out of the same face.”
He experienced a lot of differences to when he was making an album with the other members. He had to fill in every aspect himself, letting him mature more as an artist and realise how valuable the other members really were.
”I learned so much from making my album. I met with a lot of people from different fields. It was also my turn to play the ‘Cutesy’ part that Daesung and Seungri usually take responsibility for. But I had to show a serious side to the higher ups. Anyhow, I was able to mingle with a lot of different people and learned more interpersonal skills.”
When an artist releases an album, they usually put all their effort into promoting it. However promotion of G-Dragon’s album through newspapers and TV stations was minimal as YG Entertainment considers performances more important than promotions.
”I was really worried because we had barely promoted. Then I found out about something called ‘Me2day’. It’s like a blog. President Yang told me ‘This is the one way we have chosen to promote. You can do your own promoting.’ He’s always like that. He’ll open the road for us bit by bit and we have to find our own way through it. Anyway, I started showing fans bits and pieces like an outfit for a music video and a strand of my newly dyed hair. I wanted to be the one to show them my music first before any music portal sites so I even gave them 30 second snippets of a few songs. I kept thinking things like ‘If they check for updates before they go to bed and there has been an update, they’d be happy that they can talk about it the next day at school, right?’ I think it was a heart-fluttering period for both me and the fans.”
Thanks to G-Dragon, Me2day also received huge popularity. The site that had only had tens of thousands of members suddenly had hundreds of thousands. Again, G-Dragon started receiving attention from a huge number of people but just as he felt like he was starting to communicate with his fans, he was accused of plagiarism. This was just one day before the release of his album.
“The Plagiarism Controversies were unbearable”
G-Dragon (real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23), whose heart had been aflutter in anticipation of his album’s release, felt despair. Just a day before its release his title track ‘Heartbreaker’ had been accused of plagiarism. His Me2day, which had thus far been a precious way for him to communicate with his fans now seemed like a cold-hearted and scary place.
”Regardless of whether it really is plagiarism or not, I think having the label of ‘plagiarist’ itself is just disgraceful. On the internet people were fighting about whether ‘It’s been plagiarised’ vs. ‘It hasn’t’; the company said they’d fly over to America to set things straight. It seemed like there was going to be a huge legal battle. Everything was just so hard for me. It makes me happy to sing and dance in front of other people, that’s all. But the people seemed to only pay attention to the bad stuff, I thought I was gonna go crazy. But after contemplating for a while, I decided that singers should answer to any controversies through their performances.”
He realised no matter what he said could change anything. So like actors speak through acting, he decided singers should ‘speak’ through their performances.
”I think the only way I can take responsibility for my music is through my performances on stage. I always told myself that I’d apologise if I showed a disappointing performance to my fans. I think if I try my best to make people happy, they’ll realise the truth for themselves.”
Jiyong is used to being caught up in controversy from a young age. Does he have some strange power to turn little things into huge issues? But the attention he receives from both fans and anti-fans are a driving force for him.
”If an online news article about me is released, the first comment is always someone bashing me. I’m human too, of course I check (laughs). The antis always see them first and leave hateful comments. I’m actually thankful in a way. If these people really hated me, they just wouldn’t pay any attention to me at all. I think they keep checking my articles because in the end, they still expect something from me. Something along the lines of ‘I hate this guy, but I still can’t help being interested’, maybe. Because of people like that I feel like I have to try even harder.”
Popular singers just cannot be separated from the public. Admiration and criticism are just opposite sides of the same coin.
”Rather than thinking ‘Let’s see who wins then’ about my antis, I think I just have to keep trying hard until they disappear. I cant ‘beat’ the public since artists have to work together with them. It’s like being a student. I feel like I’ve done my homework as a student and now I’m hoping that my teacher will think I’ve done well.”
He’s even got the providence of the public figured out. But though he may be precocious, he doesn’t force himself to hide his pain from others.
”It’s a hundred thousand times worse when you’re in the position of the one being bashed. Korea is a small country so being in that position is really disheartening. I did understand but it still hurt really bad. I’ve just grown wings to try and fly higher; I’ve come too far to fall now and there’s no way back at this point anyway. I’m trying really hard- I truthfully just want people to be more understanding and like me more.”
“I like girls who are like ‘cats’ ”
“The lyrics and melodies of the songs I’ve written are all my own experiences. Even just indirect experiences through talking to others or watching movies and stuff. When I’m in love I can only think of happy lyrics, while when I’ve just broken up only sad lyrics come to mind. Songs like ‘She’s Gone’ are a collection of the emotions I felt while watching particular movies.”
The songs G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23) writes are all his own experiences. Anyone who’s sharp would’ve picked up his true feelings while listening to his songs.
“I think I have to write honestly so that the person listening can feel what I feel. So they can feel the pain for themselves and be moved. I don’t think it’s possible for someone to be touched by a piece of music that’s been made up from nothing.”
He has, of course, been in love. But the people around him just called it ‘cute puppy love’.
“I thought I was in love but my closest friends still tell me ‘You’ve never been in real love’. Maybe because I’m the type of person who suddenly gets really crazy about something and equally suddenly gets over it. Though I do date for a while…”
He’s also the type of person who gives everything he has to the woman he loves. Even to the point where it sometimes causes inconvenience to his work. He shows his natural unmade self, wanting to be seen just as Kwon Jiyong, not a celebrity; for this reason he is very open even in crowds.
“It’s childish, but I did all that stuff like letting out balloons from the trunk, and borrowing cafés for the day to do mini concerts. (laughs) I didn’t want my girlfriend to think of me as a celebrity so I would go to amusement parks with her with my face covered, and did everything she wanted to do. People say I’m an idiot for not caring about causing scandals. Even President Yang tells me that I have to be careful to meet the right girl.”
His ideal type is a girl who’s ‘like a cat’.
“I like girls who look have both looks and personalities like cats. I’m attracted to girls who run away when I try to catch them, but approach me and throw themselves in my arms when I stop trying. Someone I can lean on. Someone who can control me from above? I like girls who are fierce and strong. At least when I’m in love, I want to be able to have someone to lean on and rest with.”
After experiencing the sorrow of separating a few times, his thoughts on love have changed.
”I can never break up with someone first. I just can’t say it. If I start a new love in the future, I’m not going to give my all right from the beginning. I want to love slowly now.”
“I’m close with DBSK sunbaes”
”Recently, I’ve been resting a lot since my solo concert. A lot of the restrictions I had like no clubbing, no alcohol and no girlfriends were abolished. I’ve been meeting friends and going clubbing, and going shopping in DongDaeMoon in the early morning too. There was a photo of me by an outfit so I asked ‘What are these clothes?’ and the person said ‘They’re G-Dragon style’, not recognising me. (laughs)”
2009 was a significant year for G-Dragon (Real name: Kwon Jiyong, 23). It was a meaningful year where he showed his own album and concert to the world. He also knows best how to relax at the end of a significant workload now that already it’s been 5 years since his debut.
”I used to try to speak and act all cool and sophisticated when I went to award ceremonies but recently I went to this one just thinking it was like a party. I wore jeans and took my puppy and had a great time. I met a lot of other people and didn’t take much notice of the cameras. I yelled out when I was having fun and had a good time being part of the audience.”
He also became friends with many singers from other management agencies. Especially SM Entertainment’s DBSK, their sunbaes in both Japan and Korea.
”I’ve recently become close with my sunbaes in DBSK. In the past there used to be a lot of unseen rivalry between different agencies but since we’re both in groups we all have a lot in common. Hero JaeJoong hyung approached me first. After that I naturally became friends with Yoochun hyung and Junsu hyung and I realised that I could be the dongsaeng too.”
He would pester the DBSK hyungs to buy him food when they were staying in Japan, and they gave him a lot of advice.
”I admired them because they’d survived in a different country with different cultures. It doesn’t matter whether people are SM or JYP or whatever anymore, I like everyone. Sometimes it just comes to me that ‘Aww that person must’ve been through a lot of pain’ or ‘I should tell this person this piece of advice’. I think our hearts are all opening towards each other now. I would like it if our hoobaes (juniors) would come up and talk to us too.”
But he’s still in his youth and has fears about the future.
”I have to keep going. This year Daesung and TOP’s solo albums will be out and so will Big Bang’s at the end of the year. Though I doubt everything will go exactly as planned. We’ll plan everything first and then adjust the time of release depending on how fast production goes.”
As the team leader, he has to keep in mind the other members’ activities as well as the group’s.
”It’ll be a lot to handle for Daesung to prepare his solo album on his own so I think I’m gonna have to give him a lot of advice. Daesung will probably do R&B ballads. It’ll be a bit different to Big Bang’s style of music. And TOP’s will definitely be hip hop. I think I’m gonna help him work on a couple of the songs.”
Big Bang plans to return in 2010 with a new album and new looks. As always, the next is always the most important.
”We have to move forward as Big Bang again. I think we were just standing on the spot for the last two albums. It’s not that I didn’t like them, but they just didn’t take off like I wanted them to. If I don’t like how this next album turns out either, I’ll probably hate myself for it. We have to move forward, even if it’s only half a step. Now that even Seungri is no longer underage, I think in this next album we’ll be showing off more of a manly image than a boyish one. (laughs)”
G-Dragon has caught our unawareness by becoming a man. His bravery has hugely affected our country’s music industry, and is creating a legend. What shape will this legend of his take on? It’s time to sit back and watch his legend unfold.
Trans Credits: sjay.x @ BBVIP.net
Original Sources: http://www.asiae.co.kr