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[spotlight] 방탄소년단│① “우리 가사로 우리 세대 이야기를 하겠다”

방탄소년단

① “우리 가사로 우리 세대 이야기를 하겠다”
② 랩몬스터, 슈가, 제이홉’s story
③ 진, V’s story
④ 지민, 정국’s story

[INTERVIEW] 130718 – Rap Monster, Suga, J-Hope’s Story

Rap Monster. Real name Kim Namjoon. Born on September 12th 1994. During my underground days, I used the stage name Runch Randa. I got that name from the character my friend (who introduced me to rap) and I were taking care of in Maple Story. I read lots of books and all sorts of writings while writing rap lyrics to increase my vocabulary. It didn’t really work out after debuting though, because we’re so busy. But if I ever get an idea or remember good words, I always right them down on a notepad. At one point, my nickname was “Dance Prodigy” – I was so bad at dancing that my dance teacher and the company staff called me that. The difference between the things I’m good at and the things I’m bad at is extremely obvious. I thought “Ah, that’s not my speciality. Everyone has their own thing, and there are just some things you shouldn’t do.” about dancing. But turns out, it wasn’t impossible. Nowadays I’m told that I actually dance like a normal person. The members might not agree with that, though. (laughs) Although I don’t show it, I’m really nervous on stage. I used to watch people on TV walk out from behind LED doors on Mnet <M! Countdown> so actually doing it was fascinating and nerve-racking. I once went on stage without my microphone pack so I started fretting about that also. But when I got on stage, I got the feeling that I was in charge of the place. I think you need that kind of mentality when doing hip-hop. Because I have a fierce image, I often think “I’m the best here.” But unlike what you see, I have a shy personality in real life. The members tell me that there’s a big gap from me on stage and off-stage. (Suga: On stage, he wears sunglasses and has a powerful image but he actually likes cute things. He keeps the <Pocket Monster> ball he received at a fansign on his bed.) I have a habit of singing loudly at night in the dorm. I always sing so I never thought that it’d affect the members. I realized that after a while but the members never said anything – probably because I’m the leader and I was the first member in the dorm. (laughs) I think I’ve improved by 7, 80% now. I always check the current affairs and general topics in the news. It’s easy to neglect things happening around the world because of our busy schedules. I don’t like that so I check the news. If I ever have a girlfriend who isn’t an idol, I want to write them a song that apologizes for being an idol. Imagine how much the girl would dislike the fact that I’m an idol, since I’m always busy and because there are so many other fans who like me even though she’s there. I would like her to know that ‘I’m a much better person than you think.’ It’s because no matter what others do or say, I know myself the best. Also, even though this may make me sound arrogant, I want to say that I haven’t shown half of half of my abilities. I have a lot of charms and hope to show them in the future.

Suga. Real name Min Yoongi. Born on March 9th 1993. There was a stage name I used as a lyricist in Daegu. I wanted to use that but people said it had no impact and that I should have a prettier name so Bang Sihyuk PD and I came up with a few ideas. Out of those choices, he said “Suga” suited me best so that’s how I got this name. It’s kind of a dazzling name but I think that’s what people wanted. It’s a name that contradicts the image I have on stage. When I first came to Seoul and went to the recording studio, Rap Monster and two other trainees were wearing Adidas tracksuits in different colors – blue, green, and black. I felt like I had to buy one too, so I got a blue tracksuit. (laughs) The name Bangtan was finalized before we even thought of other names. There were a few other suggested names, though. Young Nation, Big Kids, and a few others were candidates but we decided that Bangtan sounded cooler. I decided to pursue a career in music after hearing Stony Skunk sunbaenim’s “Ragga Muffin” in 6th grade. I chose to rap after listening to “Fly” by Epik High sunbaenims. I had some basic Midi gear that was essential in music-making before entering the company. They were things that I had bought as a lyricist after saving up enough money by walking around for two hours every day and skipping dinner every day. But all the equipment in our logs are things that Bang Sihyuk PD gave us. (laughs) In our pre-debut song “Satoori Rap”, I rap in my native Daegu satoori. My satoori is kind of awkward now because I’ve fixed it, but it’ll be solved with a quick visit to Daegu. In one of the lyrics that I wrote in 2011, there’s a part that says “My rapping makes Superstar K’s Huh Gak gasp~” I had that much confidence in myself but as my training period got longer, I couldn’t help but think “I’m only worth this much. Should I just give up?” Even while saying that, I always wrote raps at midnight and trained a lot. My role is to nag or scold the younger members when they make a mistake. It’s because I’m the only member in the group who can speak harshly. I have an honest and blunt personality so if I feel that something isn’t right, I always speak up about it. I’ve posted it on Twitter before but once I get all the necessary supplies, I’d really like to have a cooking battle. Jin hyung is good at cooking but I also have some know-how that I’ve collected. (laughs) On Twitter, I use the words “슙슙” and “응캬캬” frequently. There are people who like it and people who say it’s greasy. My real personality isn’t aegyo-y like that and I’m actually quite straightforward. I just write like that because I want to do that with fans. You could say that it’s my special way of showing fans that I like them.

J-Hope. Real name Jung Hoseok. Born on February 18th 1994. I received commissioned education in Gwangju after signing a contract with my company. I thought ‘They’re so cool. There are these type of people at my company.’ after Rap Monster and Suga hyung were revealed. I moved to the dorm in December but there was a really big difference. My hopeful fantasy of trainee life shattered. (laughs) I got a lot of prizes in Gwangju for my dancing. I won an underground dance battle and even performed at a festival. (V: I can confirm this. While enrolling at Korea Arts School, there were lots of trainees coming from different districts. When I debuted with Bangtan, my friends asked me “J-Hope hyung, is he the one from that dance academy in Gwangju?” That’s how famous he was.) Before debuting, the members and I always did midnight dance practices. Me, Jimin, and Jungkook would often take lead and practice at midnight or sometimes even 1 or 2 am, practicing for two hours each time. First we practice the basics, then move onto details. Dance has freestyle like rapping, so sometimes we’d gather in a circle and dance. What I like best about dancing is that we all can agree. They understand faster when I explain by saying “In rapping you do this, it’s the same in dancing. Let’s try it out.” These days I think V is the best at catching up and understanding. At first I thought “Ah….what do I do.” but now he enjoys dancing and is showing a lot of interest in it. Rap Monster’s dancing skills have also improved a lot. In other words, he’s become great [at dancing]. (laughs) I’m the only member with an older sister. She’s five years older than me but we’re really close. You could say that she’s a tree who gives me constant support. There’s a lot of negative things about wearing a mask. First of all, it’s really hard to breathe and it gives me bad skin. I have to put it on straight after singing but depending on the type, there are some masks that don’t pull up that well and it’s hard. But lots of people recognize me because of it so I’m happy. Jin hyung made seaweed soup* for me and it tasted really good. It made me speechless. It tasted like my mom’s. (Jin: That was before we had a diet menu so I could put in soy sauce, salt, and beef into the soup.) I’m the type of person to approach someone without hesitation and my speaking habits are also like that. I sometimes nag Rap Monster and he says “Okay. I won’t do that anymore.” but he never really listens. (laughs) Of course, now most of his bad habits are fixed. (Rap Monster: If I’m fire, J-Hope is water – he’s good at ‘turning off’ my bad habits. He’s really sociable so he’s good at mixing with others and our group members.)

* It’s a Korean tradition for somebody celebrating their birthday to eat seaweed soup.

[INTERVIEW] 130718 – Jin, V’s Story

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Jin. Real name Kim Seokjin. Born on December 4th 1992. I made a big mistake during our first performance at <M! Countdown> It was my first time wearing a microphone pack and went up on stage with them attached to my normal pants, but they turned out to be too heavy. During “We Are Bulletproof Pt.2”, there is a part when we jump down but while doing so, my pants went down all the way to my thighs. (laughs) I quickly pulled them back up but they fell off again during the second time. Other than eating, I also enjoy looking at photographs and recipes. But when I cook, the members’ reactions aren’t that good because my food always tastes the same. Even when I change the order I put in the ingredients, the results are the same. It’s because we have a diet plan to follow and the only available options are chicken breast meat, onions, paprika, and rice. (Jimin: Once we actually skewered some chicken breast meat and onions on a chopstick and cooked it but it tasted burnt.) Because I’m bad at cooking, I want to marry someone who is better at it than me. I’ve never even thought about marrying somebody who is worse at cooking than me. I eat all health products that I see. But I don’t eat other people’s [health products]. I was the last to enter the dorm so I had a hard time adjusting at first. I don’t live extremely neatly and don’t clean up all the time but feel that everyone should put away their dishes themselves after eating or put their laundry in the laundry basket but only J-Hope and Suga do that. After they left a big mess, I thought “Ah, will I be able to live here?” and started cleaning up everything. (Suga: Everything got fixed after the cleaning lady started coming to our dorm.) Once after school, I went to the practice room and spotted a new friend. He suddenly came over to me and started dancing while rubbing his body on me. (laughs) That friend was V. (V: I didn’t volunteer to dance, it’s just that another trainee hyung told me “The eldest hyung is going to be coming later. Show your charms then. Make a first impression that he’ll remember.” As soon as Jin hyung came, I got embarrassed so I kept dancing while looking down. Hyung kept staring at me with a blank expression and eventually told me “You go dance in the front, over there.”) I thought, “What is with this kid, really?” It’s still amazing. I didn’t really know it at first but after living with him for a while, I learned that we share a lot of hobbies. When I’m on the computer, V sometimes comes over and says “Hyung, you do this too?” and when V’s doing something, I ask him “You do this too?” From that moment on, I realized “Even though this kid is 4D, he’s a normal person who has the same hobbies as me.” I like playing Super Mario and Maple Story. I started Super Mario when I was five years old and Maple Story in seven grade and still faithfully play them. I feel at ease when I see Super Mario characters and the monsters in Maple Story are extremely cute.

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V. Real name Kim Taehyung. Born on December 30th 1995. The members call me 4D. I don’t really know why they do that. (Rap Monster: When he has a blank expression like he does right now, he seems really 4D / J-Hope: I think V would have a lot of charms to show off in variety shows because of his 4D-ness.) When I’m on the top bunk and watch animations, the members stare at me as if saying “That…addict.” But after Jin hyung came into the dorm, I learned that we had a lot of the same hobbies. Hyung has a clean and prince-like feeling to him but he actually really likes animations, just like me. (Jin: Being clean and liking animations don’t link with each other!) These days whenever there’s a new animation, we talk about watching it together. I watched all the episodes of <Digimon Adventure> Also, <Wolf Children> and <The Girl Who Leapt Through Time> and other works of the director Hosoda Mamoru are my current favorites. I like almost all of the cartoons on Tooniverse and I think I’ve watched most of them. I was so moved after watching a video of Danny Jung and started playing the saxophone for three years. However, I suddenly got interested in dancing and decided to take a different path. I quit only a bit after changing from the classic saxophone to a jazz saxophone so I don’t know if I’m still as good as I was before. But I think I played really well three years ago. Clap! I don’t practice any individual talents on my own. I don’t prepare anything. I just do anything that suits the situation and think what should I do today? Should I try this? But……there are lots of times when I can’t come up with anything. (laughs) I was really sad when I couldn’t film any logs (videos that the Bangtan members take themselves and upload onto their blog). I followed the hyungs whenever they filmed a log, but couldn’t actually upload any of mine on the blog. I sat by myself and said “It’s this month and this date 2013, today I did this, this won’t go on the blog, right? I’m sad.” I was also there when they filmed their group log, it’s just that I wasn’t shown on screen – I was actually standing by the trashcan. When I was revealed as a Bangtan member, I received exactly one letter. I was so happy. I didn’t sleep until 4:00 am and read it about fifteen times. I kept showing it off to the hyungs. I made a lot of mistakes during the part of ‘No More Dream’ when I have to throw off my glasses. The glasses are in my back pocket that has a zipper on it and once I had to make glasses with my fingers, and there has been several situations in which I threw my glasses off so hard I couldn’t find them after the performance. I don’t usually cry while watching movies. I’ve cried recently though, when I watched <Miracle in Cell No. 7> with Jin hyung. I cried as if someone had turned on a faucet in my eyes. I haven’t been in a serious relationship yet. I want to marry my first love and be with them forever.

[INTERVIEW] 130718 – Jimin, Jungkook’s Story

Jimin. Real name Park Jimin. Born on October 13th 1995. I was actually looking forward to what kind of stage name I’d receive. Some of the choices were Baby J, Baby G, and Young Kid, but we eventually decided to use my real name. (Suga: We all agreed that “Jimin” sounded the best.) I see my face every day so I just think “Did my face change a bit?” but people around me tell me that I’ve lost a lot of weight. My parents worry about me a lot because they only see me a few times a year and ask me if I’m eating properly. I personally feel that I’ve become more handsome after dieting when….fans take nice pictures of me? (laughs) I eat the same things as the other members but exercise more. I didn’t really feel anything when I first started developing abs but when I first stood on stage, people’s reactions were good so my thoughts on that have changed a bit. (Jin: Jimin’s body was really good when I first met him.) I didn’t talk about that because it’s embarrassing. (laughs) During the ‘No More Dream’ choreography, there’s a part when I kick all the hyungs while they’re standing in a line, but I always feel really sorry for kicking them so hard. Once I kicked Rap Monster hyung so hard he ‘disappeared’ for a while. While doing the next part of the choreography, all I can think is “Ah, I’m so sorry. What should I do. Are they hurt?” (Jungkook: You can actually hear the kicking sound.) I danced popping since 8th grade and gained interest in this kind of career after watching Rain sunbaenim’s performances. After that, I moved to Busan High School of Arts in the modern dance department and came here after my dance teacher suggested I audition for an entertainment company. While doing modern dance, I once danced TVXQ sunbaenims’s “Mirotic” with my friends and the reaction was really good. It was to the extent that….I felt like I had become a celebrity. (laughs) (Jungkook: Hyung said that there were girls waiting for him outside the bathroom.) It’s my first and last memory. My first log was done when I could barely open my eyes. It was right after I had finished my dance lesson so my face was a mess and there were eight other people in the room at the time so I felt really awkward. I could’ve filmed more comfortably if I were alone. I was last to be added to the group so that’s why I practice so hard. (Jin: Jimin practices whenever he has free time; he has an addiction to practicing. He sleeps three hours a day, and he practices so much it makes me worried that he might die practicing.) Once I wrote lyrics and brought them to Suga hyung but he said “You call these lyrics?” He told me to bring lyrics that we could actually use in a song. (Suga: He wrote lyrics that sounded like a children’s song.) I have a lot of know-how in skincare. I take a long time cleansing and put on moisturizer straight after washing my face. The main point is to put it on three seconds after drying your face with a towel.

Jungkook. Real name Jeon Jungkook. Born on September 1st 1997. Some stage names that were being considered for me because I was from Busan were Seagull, Young Gun, and many more. But they all told me that Jungkook was the best. In 7th grade I learned b-boying in a club with some friends and hyungs. Afterwards, I went to the Mnet <Superstar K2> auditions and got casted by my current company’s staff. When I danced, Bang Sihyuk PD told me “No emotion. No emotion while dancing.” So, I went to the U.S for dance training. I learned urban style, female dancing style, powerful dances, and many more from famous choreographers. I think I learned how to properly show emotion in dancing. As soon as I came to Korea, I told the hyungs “Hyung, the U.S is great. I want to go again.” so the hyungs were a bit upset. (laughs) In ‘No More Dream’, I’m in charge of saying “Okay mom, I told you I’m going to study hall now!” I have been to study hall a lot. I didn’t always study, but mostly read books. Mainly comic books…wait, was that the library? Never mind, I’ve never been to study hall. Hyungs gave me the nickname “Golden Maknae” I think I misbehave a lot because we’re all really close. I like to say annoying things a lot to the hyungs. (laughs) (Suga: He has a good memory so he can imitate us well / Rap Monster: He makes our voices sound weird when he imitates us.) There’s nothing bad about being the maknae. We all have our own beds in the dorm. The hyungs use the top bunks but because I got my bed last, I didn’t really have a choice. I’m about 3 cm taller than Jimin hyung. I don’t think he’s growing. (Jimin: I’m two years older than him but he keeps making fun of me for my height; I don’t think that’s right / Suga: I remember that when Jungkook first came, he was shorter than me. Seeing him grow taller makes me feel like I’ve raised him.) I like a lot of foods, so I’ll only pick my top three. First is pork soup rice, second is sashimi, and third is sea eel. Jin hyung and I have a five-year age difference but when he talks about his childhood, I really feel the generation gap. Sometimes I don’t really understand when hyung talks about crackers he used to eat, the movie <Godzilla>, H.O.T, and things like that. Hyungs say that I’m going through a stormy period* right now. But I don’t think it’s puberty. (Suga: People going through puberty don’t know it’s puberty. I feel a bit sorry that he’s not able to experience the things he should be doing at that age / Rap Monster: I’m still jealous that he gets to go to the army later than us.)

* Korean expression commonly used to describe puberty.

Source: ize.co.kr
Trans cr; Christie @ bts-trans
© TAKE OUT WITH FULL CREDIT

———- needs translation ————

시작부터 직구다. 다짜고짜 ‘얌마 네 꿈은 뭐니’라며 듣는 이를 도발하더니, ‘너의 길을 가라고 단 하루를 살아도 / 뭐라도 하라고 나약함은 담아둬’라고 단호하게 외친다. 지난 6월, 타이틀곡 ‘No More Dream’을 들고 나타난 그룹 방탄소년단은 꿈꾸지 않는 아이들을 향해 돌직구를 날렸다. 그래서 랩 실력이 남다르다거나, 퍼포먼스가 화려하다는 말은 이 팀에 대한 충분한 설명이 되지 못한다. 스물 둘부터 열일곱까지, 10대와 20대가 고루 섞여 있는 이들의 진짜 무기는 비트 위에 직접 써내려간 가사 그 자체다. 데뷔까지의 과정을 요약하며 ‘나만치 해봤다면 돌을 던져’라고 자신만만하게 말하는 ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt.2’나 페이스북이라는 소재로 이별의 감정을 그려내는 ‘좋아요’ 등 첫 싱글 앨범 <2 COOL 4 SKOOL>에는 그 나이 또래의 목소리가 가득하다. 심지어 데뷔 전 공개했던 몇 곡의 믹스테잎 역시 졸업 후의 미래에 대해 고민하거나, 성인이 된 기분에 혼란스러워하는 지극히 보편적인 청년들의 이야기였다. “다음엔 어떤 이야기를 해야 할지 부담도 있지만, 저희의 이야기니까 충분히 공감하실 수 있을 거라고 생각해요.”(랩몬스터) 아직 소년티를 벗지 않은 일곱 멤버들의 얼굴에는 여전히 앳된 기운이 남아있다. 하지만 길게는 3년, 짧게는 1년 동안 무대에 설 순간만을 기다리며 힙합에 대한 생각을 정리해온 이들의 태도만큼은 제법 단단하다. 다음은 단 한 순간도 지루하지 않았던 방탄소년단과의 인터뷰다. 더불어, 한 명 한 명의 얼굴을 좀 더 자세히 들여다볼 수 있는 시시콜콜한 멤버별 정보도 확인가능하다.

지민, 슈가, 정국, V, 제이홉, 진, 랩몬스터. (왼쪽부터 아래에서 위로)

데뷔, 그리고 회식
데뷔 후 약 한 달이 지났다. 데뷔 전과 비교해 여러모로 달라진 걸 느끼나.
지민
: 연습생 때는 조금 미룰 수도 있었던 걸 이제는 미룰 수가 없다는 거? 예전에는 ‘뭐, 내일 하지’ 그러기도 했지만, 지금은 오늘 하지 않으면 큰일 난다는 생각이 들어서 더 열심히 하게 된다.
랩몬스터: 그리고 활동하는 게 이 정도로 힘들고 어려운 일인 줄 몰랐다. 새벽 3, 4시에 일어나서 리허설, 드라이 리허설, 본방 다 하고 다른 분들에게 인사까지 하고 나면 하루가 다 가는 거다. 무대 위에 서는 3분을 위해서 하루를 써야한다는 걸 알게 됐다.

오랫동안 연습생이었던 멤버들도 있어서 첫 방송의 의미가 더 크게 느껴졌겠다.
슈가
: 사실 첫 방송 전날 쇼케이스를 했다. 그 날 연습생 시절부터 함께 해온 신인개발팀 누나들이 다 우시는 바람에 우리도 따라서 펑펑 울었다. 그러고 나니 첫 방송이 끝난 후엔 단 한 명도 울지 않더라. 얼떨떨하기만 했던 것 같다.

자축의 의미로 회식을 하진 않았나. (웃음)
랩몬스터
: 반 년 전에 우리 블로그에 ‘흔한 연습생의 크리스마스’라는 노래를 올린 적이 있다. 그 곡에 ‘회식 한 번’을 간절하게 외치는 가사가 있었는데, 우리가 데뷔한 후에도 회사에서는 모른 척 하시더라. 달라지는 게 없었다. (웃음) 회식은 나중에 우리끼리라도 하려고 한다. 이상적인 건 거하게 고기를 먹는 거다. 소고기를 1인당 6인분씩 먹거나, 등심이 먹고 싶으면 회사 허락을 받지 않고 바로 ‘이모, 여기 등심 주세요’라고 말할 수 있는 그런 거. 앞으로 열심히 해서 꼭 등심을 먹고 싶다.
: 음료수도 시켜 먹고 싶다. 지금 식단 조절 때문에 탄산음료를 못 마시고 있다.
슈가: 아마 음악 순위프로그램에서 1위를 하면 마음껏 먹을 수 있지 않을까 싶다.

신인이지만 다들 무대 위에서 그다지 긴장하지 않는 것 같던데, 실수를 한 적도 있나.
정국
: 최근에 Mnet <엠카운트 다운>에서 춤을 추는데 모자가 덜렁거리는 게 느껴졌다. 결국 마지막엔 머리 모양이 어떻게 나오든 신경 쓰지 않고 모자를 던져버렸다.
지민: 그래도 멋있게 나왔다. 나도 다음엔 실수인 척 하면서 던져야겠다. (웃음)
슈가: 그런 돌발 상황을 대비한 연습도 다 했었다. 모자가 날아가면 발로 차거나, 들어서 던진다거나 하는 식으로. 계속 모니터링을 하면서 많이 연습했기 때문에 실수하는 모습을 보신 분들도 대처를 잘 했다고 말씀해주시더라. 물론 회사에서는 엄청 혼났지만. (웃음)

지민, 정국.

< 2 Cool 4 Skool >
앨범 이야기를 해보자. 싱글 앨범인데 인트로, 스킷, 아웃트로까지 충실하게 들어가 있다.
랩몬스터: 우리가 힙합 그룹과 아이돌이라는 정체성 사이에서 어느 정도는 타협을 했지만, 할 수 있는 선에선 최대한 힙합적인 구성과 요소를 보여주려고 했다. 보컬 라인 친구들까지 랩을 한 이유도 그 때문이다. ‘우리는 힙합 하려고 나왔다’는 걸 어필하려고 한 거다.

‘No more dream’이 타이틀곡으로 정해지는 과정은 어땠나.
지민
: 형들이 고생하는 건 알고 있었지만 어느 정도인지는 몰랐다. 그래서 노래가 딱 나왔을 때는 그냥 ‘좋다, 괜찮네’라고 생각했다. 녹음도 마냥 즐겁게 했는데 알고 보니 스무 번 이상 가사를 썼다 지웠다 했다고 하더라.
슈가: 제일 처음에는 (‘No More Dream’과 같은 트랙에) ‘취향 존중’이라는 주제를 가지고 가사를 써 갔는데, 방시혁 PD님이 ‘이건 너네한테 어울리는 가사가 아니다’라고 하셨다. 이런 과정을 반복하다보니 타이틀곡 파일 제목이 1에서 시작해 29까지 갔다. 랩몬스터와 나는 작업실에서 종이를 막 던지고 찢고 난리도 아니었다. (웃음)
랩몬스터: 처음에 비트를 받았을 때는 ‘이거다, 이거면 다 때려 부술 수 있다’고 생각했는데 막상 해보니 엄청난 고전이었다. 내가 생각했던 그림이 안 나오는 거다. 요즘 트렌드도 있고, 우리 이야기를 하면서 동시에 래퍼로서의 능력도 보여줘야 하는데 그걸 고작 여덟 마디에 담으려고 하니 정말 힘들었다. 타이틀곡에 미운 정, 고운 정 다 든 느낌이다.

앨범 수록곡들을 한 곡 한 곡 들어보면, 또래 이야기를 담기 위해 노력한 게 느껴진다.
슈가
: 타이틀곡이든 ‘We Are Bulletproof Pt.2’든, 멤버들이 다 같이 공감하는 주제에서 시작했다. 우리들의 이야기를 써야 우리 세대가 공감하고 음악으로 교감할 수 있다고 생각했다.
랩몬스터: 10대와 20대를 대신해서 또래의 이야기를 쉽게 전한다는 것이 방탄소년단의 슬로건이다. 수록곡 중 페이스북에서 ‘좋아요’ 버튼이 상징하는 의미와 그에 대한 감정을 담은 ‘좋아요’라는 노래가 있다. 이 곡 역시 SNS로 소통을 많이 하는 우리 또래라면 누구나 공감할 만한 주제로 가사를 쓴 거다. ‘니가 올리는 모든 사진마다 좋아요 남발하는 처음 보는 저 남자 누구야’ 이런 식으로.

가사를 주로 쓰지 않는 멤버들은 어떤 식으로 영감을 전달해줬나.
지민
: 경험 같은 것만 간단하게 알려주곤 했다. 가령 요즘 내 또래 친구들은 꿈이 없다는 것, 혹은 어떤 노력도 하지 않고 미래에 대해 막연하게 생각한다는 등의 이야기를 해주었다.
슈가: 나는 이미 20대가 되었는데 10대의 감성에 대한 가사를 써야 하니까 지민이나 정국이로부터 많은 이야기를 들으려고 했다. 작업하다가 가사가 안 풀리면 같이 밥을 먹으면서 “네 친구들은 뭐 하고 싶어 하냐?”라고 물어보기도 했다.
랩몬스터: 주제는 하나여도 사람마다 경험이 다르다 보니, 그런 감정들을 하나하나 다 들어보려고 한다. ‘이런 면도 있구나, 그렇게 볼 수도 있구나’ 하는 생각을 하면서.

진,V.

방탄소년단의 탄생
이렇게 한 팀이 되었지만, 서로 처음 만났을 땐 어땠나.
지민
: 지난해 5월 말 쯤 서울에 처음 올라왔는데, 제이홉 형이 숙소 앞으로 마중을 나왔다. 캐리어를 끌고 가면서 멀뚱멀뚱 주위를 둘러보고 있는데 옆집 형처럼 친근하게 생긴 분이 “혹시… 지민 씨…?”라고 말을 걸었다.
제이홉: 그 때 지민이 참 귀여웠는데.
V: 나는 형들이 베레모를 쓰고 목걸이를 낀 채 음악을 들으며 작업 중일 거라고 생각했다. 그래서 몰래몰래 슬금슬금 들어가서 인사하려고 했는데, 형들이 자고 일어난 모습으로 나를 맞더라. (웃음) 제이홉 형은 머리가 붕 뜬 상태로 “안녕하세요” 이러고, 랩몬스터 형은 특이한 안경을 끼고 있었던 기억이 난다.

성격이나 성장환경이 다른 사람들이 같은 공간에서 생활한다는 게 쉬운 일은 아니다.
슈가
: 다 같이 한 방에서 생활을 하다 보니 처음에는 청결이나 정리정돈 문제에 예민했다. 정해놓은 규칙을 어기면 한 번에 천 원씩 벌금을 받기도 했는데, 신기하게도 벌금제를 시작하자마자 어기는 사람이 싹 없어졌다. 지금은 서로 피해를 주지 않는 선에서 정리하고 있어서 숙소가 더럽진 않다. 그리고 각자의 침대는 각자의 영역이기 때문에 절대로 침범하지 않는다는 게 우리의 원칙이다.
: 사실 벌금 내야할 사람 목록이 아직 내 휴대폰에 남아있다. 만 팔천 원 정도 되는 벌금을 세 명이 내지 않았는데, 누군지는 다음 기회에 공개하겠다. (웃음)

생활면에서도 그렇지만, 힙합 그룹으로서의 조율 과정도 필요했을 것 같다. 힙합에 익숙하지 않은 멤버들도 있었으니까.
: 내 경우엔 힙합을 듣는 건 좋아했지만, 일상생활에서 왜 힙합스럽게 다녀야 하는지 이해를 잘 못 했다. 예를 들어 지금까지 나는 20년을 살아오는 동안 항상 바르게 걸어야 한다고 배웠는데, 다른 친구들은 껄렁껄렁하게 걸어야 멋있는 거라고 하니까. (웃음) 그런데 같이 지내다보니까 점점 멋있어 보였다. 자연스레 힙합에 가까워질 수 있었던 것 같다.
V: 랩몬스터 형이 개인적으로 노래를 많이 추천해줬다. 아침에 학교 갈 때마다 리스트를 뽑아주더라. 들어보니까 다 좋았다. 연습실에 가서 그런 음악들을 찾아 듣는 재미로 반 년 넘게 몰입할 수 있었다.
랩몬스터: 작업실에서 비트를 틀어놓고 멤버들에게 ‘네 이름 소개라도 좋다. 한 글자라도 랩처럼 써봐라’라고 말했다. 숙소에 있을 때도 항상 BGM으로 힙합 음악을 틀어놓고. 그래서 타이틀 작업을 할 때쯤엔 다들 힙합 그루브 같은 걸 받아들일 수 있게 됐던 것 같다.

힙합 하는 아이돌
지금은 각자 힙합이 무엇이라고 생각하나.
슈가
: 솔직함의 문화라고 생각한다. 나는 돈이 많고, 내 목걸이는 금이라고 자랑하는 게 아니라 우리 세대, 우리 나이대의 생각을 솔직하게 이야기할 수 있는 장르인 거다. 그리고 힙합은 다른 장르에선 곡 전체에 들어갈 가사가 열여섯 마디짜리 Verse 하나에 랩으로 몽땅 들어가기 때문에 내 이야기를 할 수 있는 시간이 길다. 다른 장르에 비해 남들을 감동시킬 시간이 좀 더 있는 거라고 할 수 있다.
제이홉: 나는 춤을 추면서 힙합 음악을 들었다. 듣다 보면 신이 나더라. 힙합이란 것 자체가 즐길 수 있는 장르라고 생각한다. 누구나 들으면서 리듬을 탈 수 있는 음악인 거지.
V: 다른 장르에서는 한 곡 안에서 한 사람의 이야기를 하지만, 힙합은 각자 다른 사람들의 이야기를 한 곡 안에 넣을 수 있는 것 같다.
지민: 힙합 음악을 들은 지도, 문화를 접한 지도 얼마 안돼서 분명하게 설명하긴 힘들지만, 자기 이야기로 다른 사람의 공감을 불러일으켜 멋을 느끼게 하는 것 아닐까 싶다. 다른 분들이 흔히 이야기하는 ‘전투력 상승 음악’이랄까. (웃음)

힙합을 하는 팀인 동시에 아이돌이기 때문에 정체성에 대한 혼란이 올 수도 있다. 해결 방법을 생각해본 적이 있는지 궁금하다.
랩몬스터
: 하루에도 수십 번씩 그 생각에 부딪힌다. 나는 아이돌인가 아티스트인가, 만약 둘 다라면 그건 어떤 것인가. 어떻게 행동해야 하고 사람들은 날 어떻게 바라볼까. 이런 것에 두려움이 많고, 앞으로도 이 혼란이 사라질 것 같지는 않다. 다만, 우리는 두 마리 토끼를 다 잡으려고 하는 것이기 때문에 책임져야 하는 것도 두 배라고 생각한다. 남들이 제시하는 기준에 어느 정도 맞춰가면서 내가 하고 싶은 일도 해야 하는 거다. 합의점을 찾아가는 과정을 겪으면서 성숙해질 수 있지 않을까 싶다.
슈가: 나 역시 여기에 대해서 많은 생각을 했는데, 답이 나왔다. 정체성 혼란이 오면 오는 대로 가사를 쓰면 된다. 그냥 우리가 느끼고 있는 감정을 솔직하게 보여주면 될 것 같다. 부담이 있는 만큼 자신도 있다.

그렇다면 힙합을 하는 사람으로서 각자 살아가고 싶은 방향도 있을까.
제이홉
: 틀에 얽매이지 않는 삶을 살고 싶다. 예를 들면 빈지노 선배님. 정말 멋있게 사는 분인 것 같다. 나 역시 하고 싶은 일을 하고, 즐기면서 사는 사람이 되고 싶다.
정국: 굉장히 자유롭게, 내 음악을 하면서 살아가고 싶다.
: 딱히 과하게 치장하지 않고 뭐든지 나한테 알맞게. 눈에 띄는 걸 크게 좋아하지 않아서 나만 반짝반짝 빛난다거나 하면 별로일 것 같다.
슈가: 다들 공통적으로 공감하는 게 있다. 무지 티셔츠를 입어도 멋있는 사람, 명품을 입지 않아도 명품처럼 보이는 사람이 되고 싶다는 것.
랩몬스터: 멋을 내는 사람이 아니라 멋이 나는 사람이었으면 하는 거다.

스타일리스트. 이하정