If your knowledge of Korean hip hop barely stretches beyond a certain killer whale, then it’s unlikely that you’ve heard of Show Me The Money. However, the rap survival/competition show has been defining the upper echelons of Korean rap for the last few years, with many of the songs from the show consistently hitting the roof of the Korea’s Goan chart. It’s a unique showcase of the Korea’s rap talents, wrapped up in an addictive competition format, that very few countries have managed to emulate, as proven when Timbaland himself labelled it “the most innovative show I’ve ever heard of” during his season 5 appearance.
Like any reality show, it’s not without its glaring issues. ‘Evil editing’ is a common occurrence, manipulating events to tell a specific, largely untrue, story. Celebrated freestyler Olltii is this season’s biggest victim, as some mischievous ribbing of his teammate Hangzoo’s age is transformed into cruel bullying to fit a storyline of Hangzoo redemption and Olltii’s comeuppance. Favouritism is another major problem, considering Khiphop’s noticeably small size, many contestants and producers are linked in some way, leading to instances like Tiger JK failing to eliminate the poorly performing Digiri due to their personal connections as veteran rappers.
Despite the manipulative atmosphere, each season has been consistent in showcasing masterful raps and delivering a high volume of absolute bangers. Season 6 was initially billed as a consolation season with no definitive winning candidate, reviving many contestants that should’ve gone further in the competition, but has also been an unusually beneficial season for unknown rookies – leading to more adventurous and artistic tracks. The following list demonstrates the exciting performances that have defined Show Me The Money 6.
Penomeco’s One Minute Rap
Show Me The Money delights in shock eliminations, particularly during the bloodthirsty 1v1 round, where Fanxychild crew member Penomeco lost to Asol’s surprising intensity, but the show’s producers are foolish for refusing to allow him to go further in the competition, demonstrated by his unbelievable 60 second rap.
Penomeco displays more personality and charisma in 60 seconds than many rappers do in a whole season (sorry Ja Mezz). His self-produced beat leads with a cool jazzy intro, before a drop of chaotic pings signals the true highlight, as his high tone, vocal inflections and perfectly prepared movements are a combination of catchiness that remains embedded in your brain. That “Pedal to the metal/it’s the Peno for the medal” line is goddamn lethal.
Hanhae vs Los
With the introduction of USA auditions, a display of SMTM’s growing international appeal, American contestants’ natural closeness to hip hop’s birthplace cause the producers to become particularly thrilled by their performances. However, Hanhae’s growth as a rapper, since his traumatic elimination in season 4, sees him to deliver a tight, rapid and breathless rap over Jay Park’s ‘Fuckboy’, which led to him being victorious over the intimidating LA-based Los.
Song Mission: Team Dynamic Duo
The SMTM hall of fame receives one song that defines each season due to an iconic performance and role as a chart mainstay, joining ‘Turtle Ship’ and ‘Forever’ this season is ‘N분의 1’ from Dynamic Duo’s team. With a super strong rap from all involved – myunDo’s effortless chill, Hanhae’s focused precision, Woochan’s joyful hook, Ryno’s unrelenting stability and Nucksal’s punchy vocalisation – over a combination of guitars clangs and bass slaps, it’s unsurprising that an agonising decision followed when deciding who to eliminate (for real though, myunDo was robbed).
Song Mission: Team FANXYCHILD
When Zico introduced a Grime-flavoured beat to his team, it seemed like a potential disaster followed, yet the reckless pianos and bass-loaded beat is a surprising fit for the diverse group of rappers, who put together one of the most energetic and baffling performance of SMTM’s history.
Olltii is the only one whose soft voice isn’t served well by the hardness of ‘Yozm Gang’, Young B’s raw spitting, Hash Swan’s mosquito buzz and Killagramz wild energy all feel right here, it’s Rhythm Power’s Hangzoo who this beat was truly made for. His flow effortlessly keeps up with the high bpm and showcases his newfound charisma.
Woo Wonjae’s Diss
Before the repetitive slog of the live stages begins, the most enjoyable round in the SMTM’s calendar – the diss battle – provides comedy and relief. Hangzoo’s prophetic observation that whoever battles Ja Mezz wins the show, WoodieGo Child’s accurate imitations, Hanhae’s borrowing the ‘Dat Stick’ flow – all potential defining moments from the diss battle, but it’s Woo Wonjae who truly nails it.
Until this moment, Wonjae had begun to struggle to show versatility, consistently delivering pained, autobiographical intensity, yet the diss battle revealed a new Wonjae – a fun Wonjae. With the seemingly impossible task of dissing the 12-year-old Woochan, he instantly kills it with the line “there’s no such thing as Santa Clause” sending the audience recoiling, while he finds a way to trash frontrunner Nucksal by dissing his obssesion with visuals. This is the performance that provided the confidence and swagger Wonjae needed to deliver on the live stages.
Junoflo – Eyes On Me (ft. G Soul)
In past seasons, producer Dok2 has taken on a ‘let’s just have fun’ attitude with mixed results (suited Bobby perfectly, saw Flowsik lose unnecessarily), with him often failing to properly mentor his team. However, ‘Eyes On Me’ is Dok2 masterpiece contribution to SMTM6. Surely an attempt to recreate that magic of Mino’s ‘Fear’, the airy boom bap beat is the perfect home for the duo of G Soul’s goosebump-inducing falsetto and Junoflo’s nasally passion.
Woo Wonjae – ZINZA (ft. YDG, Suran)
Following Wonjae’s touching first performance of ‘Again’ is ‘Zinza’, which sees him fully embracing his musical vision. The first 90 seconds sees him squatting to stare down his audience, with his raps blending quiet control with derange yells over the screeching, experimental monster of a beat. There’s a dichotomy to his guest with Suran’s airy calm and YDG’s wacky flow refusing to detract from death focused lyricism. ‘Zinza’ goes beyond a simple live performance, providing an insight Wonjae frenetic mental state – SMTM will never see a stage like this again.
Hangzoo – Red Sun (ft. Swings)
‘Red Sun’ is the moment where Hangzoo proved he deserved to become SMTM6’s winner. Everything about this is perfect – the jerky masked dancers, the elegant candle lit set, the visual explosion as the chorus hits – but Hangzoo sells it on the rap, switching between dramatic contemplation, hyped roars and tight virtuosity, easily taming Zico’s thrilling beat – a feat most rappers fail to achieve. Even Swings’ glancing at the teleprompter can’t derail the performance, with his crazed howl only lending even more potency to the already overpowered ‘Red Sun.’
If you fancy checking out Show Me The Money, Khiphop Subs have done excellent work subbing season 3-6, find the subbed episodes here.