Rock Bottom on Top in London [INTERVIEW]

Sitting in the venue’s pub, World’s End in London, a few hours before the show I started to feel vibrations in my chest and feet. Although loud, it was clearly not due to the heavy metal being played in the bar. I realised soon after that it was the soundcheck of the people I was here to see; I knew then that Rock Bottom were going to be up for this performance.

It also got me thinking about why a South Korean hip-hop crew was playing in The Underworld, a venue known for its heavy metal. To find out, I asked them about hip-hop’s rising popularity in Korea in a short interview before the gig. “There’s been a lot of ball crossing in Korea recently, which has made it more approachable,” answered Kidoh, who spoke the most, presumably referring to shows like “Show Me The Money” and chart topping collaborations between vocalists such as Sistar singer Soyou and rappers of the likes of Mad Clown. Yet Rock Bottom don’t identify with this more popular strand of rap. Referring to the Korean public they said, “They don’t know us, we are lowkey.” Maybe that’s why they’re playing a sold out international show.

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The main reason why they could be there was clear when I saw and, more importantly, heard the crowd. The majority young female crowd screamed at any sight of the members of Rock Bottom but never more so than for the aforementioned Kidoh. A former member of K-pop group Topp Dogg, he along with BTS collaborator Supreme Boi were the main attractions. Even so, the others certainly ended the night with some new fans.


i11evn was to be another big part of the show, but couldn’t make it so was replaced by Marvel J, who was only announced a week before the show. I was disappointed at first because i11evn’s “Siwi” was the song I was most looking forward to, but Marvel J more than made up for it. Having to inform fans of i11evn’s no show and open the show was a difficult task for Marvel J since he is probably the least well known of the whole crew. His energy, however, was palpable from the first song. He strode around the stage with great confidence; his impeccable flow never disturbed by fatigue. By the time he was trying out new track “Dak Galbi” the crowd was so with him that there was no chance of the song bombing. He got up close and personal with the crowd, sprayed water from his bottle everywhere, and involved the crowd without being too obvious.

When I say Marvel J more than made it up for i11evn’s absence, I really mean it. Whenever he was off stage, the night took a dip. Supreme Boi was up next after being introduced with “Uranus,” a duet with Marvel J. Most of his songs were actually the more interesting productions of the whole show, but didn’t translate as well as Marvel J’s simple trap tracks into a live performance. Vapourwave anthem “Hawaii” was his clear highlight and Type-C got onstage to help him out by shouting a bit and drinking a lot. Supreme Boi told me that this sound comes from one of their favourite producers at the moment, 회사AUTO. I asked them if vapourwave separated them from other Korean hip-hop artists of the moment, Kidoh answered that they don’t even know other people in the scene.


Supreme Boi pleased the crowd well, though, especially with his references to grime, the UK’s own brand of hip-hop. He sampled man of the moment Stormzy in one track and later told me he also loved Skepta and Wiley, other UK artists; he certainly did his homework. Another track that got big screams was “Cypher 3: Killer,” which is Supreme Boi’s track with BTS’ rap line. Interestingly, he only performed Rap Monster’s part, probably because it is the most energetic of them all. It certainly worked as it was his most aggressive moment on stage and was the only time I really felt like he could take off.

Supreme Boi was followed by crowd favourite Kidoh, who tried hard with less material than the rest of them. He jumped around a lot but never seemed to be fully into it. His main track “Pretty Mofucka” is disappointingly generic trap and did little for me live. I was happy to see him perform his new song “Ride,” which takes more of the vapourwave influences. The performance lost out, though, by not having female vocalist DUVV there to sing along or someone else to take her place.


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They all came alive again, however, when the three of them performed together. Rock Bottom anthem “Nicki Minaj Girls” particularly worked well. It showcased not just their talent as individual rappers but also their unity as a whole team, a team that Kidoh says is built on a healthy amount of conflict everyday. “KFC” also went down well and was the only song that the crowd lapped up and joined in on. It was odd, however, hearing a group of young girls chant back “wreck that pussy” throughout.

This sort of brushing over of the details is part of a big problem in Korean hip-hop for me. Before the show, they told me they were unique because they were able to stretch beyond boundaries. But, unfortunately, they showed little real sign of doing this in London. Not that it wasn’t a good gig; it was exciting and a lot of fun, but nothing about it was concurrent to average rap. Rapping about wrecking pussy and being the best is tired and, frankly, such a trope that it only ever feels dishonest. All the macho posturing is too self-conscious for its own good. Although they do have interesting sounds to distinguish themselves, Rock Bottom have a long way to go alongside Korean hip-hop as a whole.

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5 Songs to Get Ready for Rock Bottom Crew’s Show in London

Rock Bottom

Rising from the ashes of forgotten rap crew Daenamhyup and featuring a number of former idol trainees, Rock Bottom Crew have a good base to start off, but some work to do to set themselves apart. Rap crews springing up is no surprise given the mainstream popularity of rap in Korea at the moment . Now that being a rapper in an idol group is not as frowned upon as before, turning back to the underground after not getting into a group also gives some artists a second chance. This is the case for Supreme Boi and Kidoh of Rock Bottom. Supreme Boi is known for being a pre-debut member and current producer of BTS. Kidoh is a former member of Topp Dogg who seemingly left on good terms, just wanting to pursue his personal goals.

While trawling through their back catalogue, it’s easy to see a certain sound that captures what Rock Bottom is. Modern vaporwave trap permeates throughout their tracks. Even with few songs that feature all of them it’s easy to hear the throughline. Clearly influenced in sound and flow by the ‘90s Atlanta hip-hop scene (or Keith Ape and the Underwater Squad), trap beats hold together the songs as the crew let their vocals loose. It’s the addition of floaty synths and retro samples that really draw the attention though. Giving them a slightly softer edge than your average try hard Korean rapper.

Along with the aforementioned Supreme Boi and Kidoh, Rock Bottom bring fellow BTS trainee i11evn, producers Hashmate and Type-C, and Don’t Call Me A Dog (who may be a rapper or a model or a producer or all of the above, I’m not really sure to be honest), to London, UK, for a one-off concert. The show will be at Camden’s The Underground on April 14. Tickets will go on sale at the end of February and range from £15 for presale, £20 standard, £35 early entry, and £45 main show + after party.

Now time to get excited, here are five of Rock Bottom’s best and most well known songs.

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“Nicki Minaj Girls” by Rock Bottom

Every crew needs their signature song. Something simple enough that each rapper can spit over it in their own style while still having enough of a hook to work as more than a showcase of talent. For Rock Bottom this song is “Nicki Minaj Girls.” It is their call to action; each member brags and disses in typical fashion. The music as well is typical of this type of song, carried by a trap beat, it has inflections of ringing electronics and bassy synths. The passion and anger they bring serve to sell the song. Supreme Boi shouts “Rock Bottom place to be.” It’s hard not to take his word for it.


“Hawaii” by Supreme Boi

Supreme Boi tones it down slightly on “Hawaii,” his soundtrack for spring break hangovers. His aggressive delivery remains in parts but the song floats on its dreamy vocal samples and house sounds. In between his raps, pianos mellow things out creating a vibe that is a first relaxing, but with continued raps becomes creepy and unsettling. In other words, perfect for that morning after “Where the fuck am I?” feeling.


“Siwi” by i11evn

i11evn continues with a chilled out sort of vibe on last year’s single “Siwi.” It’s three and a half minutes of pure rap skill. The song spins cycles with retro muzak remaining for the whole song over a trap beat. i11evn provides the variations with laid back flows interspersed with whines and shouts.

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If “Hawaii~” and “Siwi” show the vaporwave side of Rock Bottom, Kidoh’s ”PRETTY MOF#CKA” shows us how they do trap. That is, just like everyone else. At the first few beeps of synth you could even mistake it for “It G Ma.” As a song to upload onto your Soundcloud, it works quite well though. Kidoh shows an agitated angry side to him that maybe someone who knew him as a member of Topp Dogg would never have seen. Best of all it could be an absolute frenzy when played live.


“Jong-Ro” by Hashmate

Something that might not be heard at the concert but could be a great warm up track is producer Hashmate’s instrumental “Jong-Ro.” It brings new meaning to term vaporwave by being as ethereal as a plume of smoke. The synths are ultra smooth and envelope you as it drifts along with its slow tribal drums. That is, until it becomes a house track towards. Drums kick in and break you out of your trip providing a banging end to a chilled out track. This combo of heavy and light is a clear theme with the music of Rock Bottom and could prove to provide an electric night out.

Do you plan on going to Rock Bottom? What are your favourites from them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.