With thumping beats blasting throughout the Palais des Festivals venue, hip-hop maestros Bizzy, Tiger JK and Yoon Mirae expanded Korea’s musical reach last month. Performing under the unit name MFBTY (My Fans Better Than Yours), the trio took the stage at their showcase “K-Pop Night Out at MIDEM 2013,” on Jan. 27 in Cannes, France.
Billboard spoke with the trio for their thoughts on being selected to represent K-pop at MIDEM. “We felt it was important to show that there is much more to Korean music,” says Yoon Mirae (who is also known as Tasha). “I am definitely honored to have been chosen to represent for my country.”
The members of MFBTY are known for kick starting the then-absent hip-hop genre in the country during the 90s and early 00s. At MIDEM, the group delivered a high-energy performance, flaunting their fiery rap style and powerful stage personas.
Tiger JK (who is sometimes known as “the Jay-Z of Korea” and partnered with Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine for his own Beats by Dre headphones) and his collaborator of almost a decade Bizzy opened the show with the classic “Thumb.” During their hit “True Romance,” Yoon Mirae entered the stage with her swag in full effect. The “Queen of Hip-Hop” had the crowd going with flowing charisma despite her simple ensemble of a black shirt, jeans and fedora.
“Some of you guys may not understand the lyrics, but I hope you guys still enjoy our show because music transcends language,” the femcee said hitting a sentiment that helps explain why fellow Korean artists have been able to make big moves on Billboard’s charts despite the material not in English.
Throughout the 40 minute set, the group interacted with fans and ran through hits like, “Jet Pack,” “Pay Day,” “Black Happiness,” and even their remix of the Far East Movement/Justin Bieber “Live My Life” single where they contribute a few bars. The performance confirmed that music does, indeed, transcend language as attendees (mostly non-Korean MIDEM participants, critics and journalists) were bopping to the music with their hands waving in the air.
MFBTY’s “Sweet Dreams” made its live premiere at the showcase. The track is a combination of pop, progressive hip-hop and electronic dance music. The song rises to No. 13 this week on K-Pop Hot 100.
Regarding their new club-banger Tiger JK explains, “‘Sweet Dreams’ is the first single off our project group. It wasn’t originally supposed to the make it to the album. But, Lumpens, the director of the ‘Sweet Dreams’ video thought that it was suitable for the project he was working on for the theater release. It all happened like an accident.”
Yoon Mirae adds, “MFBTY is really just an excuse — an escape if you will — for us to try out different types of styles. Whether it be our music, our fashion, or even just creating a whole new stage persona without the pressures of record sales or what people ‘think’ our music should sound like.
And whether or not MFBTY intended to, the group cemented Korean hip-hop as a viable genre that can please anywhere in the world — including MIDEM.
“It was a nerve-wracking, humbling, yet very loving experience,” says Yoon Mirae on successfully finishing the showcase.
“Meeting fans that we didn’t know existed in France was the highlight of our trip,” adds Tiger JK and Bizzy. “After the show the Korean booth was packed with new fans that wanted our press kits and showed interest in Korean music.”
So what’s ahead in 2013 for MFBTY after starting with such a bang?
“Hopefully I can retire and have Tasha [Yoon Mirae] get the recognition she deserves,” says Tiger JK. To this, Yoon Mirae — his wife of six years — reassures, “We all have solo albums coming out! Hopefully, we will have a concert as well.”