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Solo album gives Mino the time to shine: Winner rapper shows off a new side of himself on ‘XX,’ which he wrote

Nov 29,2018
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YG ENTERTAINMENT
When Mino, a member of the boy band Winner, took part in Mnet’s hip-hop audition program “Show Me The Money” in 2015, nobody thought that he’d do well since he was from an idol group and not a professional hip-hop crew. So when he managed to survive all the rounds and finish as the season’s runner-up, many began to take him seriously as a rapper, not just a pop star who thinks he’s good at rapping.

This week, Mino - real name Song Min-ho - properly marked himself as a rapper, with his first full-length album “XX.” The music video for his lead track “Fiance” has already achieved over 6 million views since its release on Monday, while the song currently sits atop online music charts with its retro beat that uses the melody of a song popular in the 1970s.

“This is my first full-length solo album, and I’m so nervous,” said Mino in an interview on Monday. “It feels different than putting out an album as a member of Winner. I had the other members to depend on then, so I never knew that it would be so nerve-racking to go solo, even though I had a team of staff working with me.”

The album contains 12 songs, each carrying a different vibe and melody that’s hard to define into a single word. “The reason the album is called ‘XX’ is because I didn’t want to choose a word to cover all the messages or concepts within the song. In fact, that would have restricted my work. But I want people to listen to it with an open mind and come up with their own interpretations of the songs. With their own tastes, people can fill in the blank with their own meaning,” explained the rapper.

As the rapper explained, the album is full of different sounds. “Fiance,” for example, takes its main melody from “A Maiden from Soyang River” (1969) to give a retro twist. Just as the original song is about missing a lover while looking out at the setting sun, Mino raps about love, desire and nostalgia for his lover who he “misses but can’t have and can’t see,” according to the lyrics.

As for the featured artists, there’s an interesting name on the list, apart from well-known rapper Yang Dong-geun and singer Blue.D: comedian Yoo Byung-jae. “I actually gave a lot of thought into who’d be good for the song (‘Hope’), but couldn’t find the right person. When I extended my thoughts into a bigger spectrum, Yoo Byung-jae immediately came to my mind. He gladly accepted, and we had such a fun time together.”

In “Hope,” Yoo sings the chorus which reads: “It’s my hope to sleep with you once.” True, not many singers would have gladly taken on the job. That song, along with the track “Trigger,” were both deemed inappropriate for minors.

Nevertheless, Mino hopes that people of all ages will be able to enjoy his other songs as he took part in producing and writing lyrics for every track on the album. As someone who likes taking pictures and drawing, he also actively took part in making the album cover and coming up with the concepts for the music video as well.

The idea of an album has been lingering in his head for a long time, but the execution of his dream began earlier this year, according to the 25-year-old rapper. “I’ve been working on ‘Hope’ for two and a half years,” said Mino.

“Having a solo album was something that I’ve always wanted to do, since when I was younger,” said the rapper. “It had been my dream to release my very own work. And with this album, I’ve been given the chance to do just that.”

Though he’s still best known as a member of Winner, Mino actually debuted as a member of Block B in 2011, then became a rapper with a band named BoM, until he debuted with Winner in 2014.

Through this album, he’s gotten the chance to express all his different sides. “There’s a side of me that’s a member of Winner, another in the reality, another in my dreams, and so many others that I wanted to show,” said Mino.

“The word development is a very broad one,” said Mino. “But I think I’m developing, and still changing. I’m a different person than I was even two, three or four years ago, and I will keep changing. I believe that I’m improving in that way.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]