As some of you may have seen from my twitter or recent posts, I’m currently obsessed with High School Rapper. In particular, the 4th season. I started it after binging Show Me The Money 9. The level of talent just seems out of this world and I’m blown away each week. Sadly the season came to an end, and in celebration of that, I wanted to give some opinions on the performances and songs from this season.
It was really hard to narrow down round one. For one, it was a round where no one went home but also it was a round where these kids really brought their own colors to hip hop. I decided to list my top 8, since there are four mentor teams and I like even numbers.
Rank 1: Kim Dahyeon – Lil Bemo killed this shit. It was so memorable because you just wouldn’t expect this voice and skill to come from this little kid.
Rank 2: Park Hyeonjin – This is baby Jay Park in the making. His vocalization and the way he rides a groove is mesmerizing.
Rank 3: Kim Woorim – This was the redemption arc that D.Ark needed after his two runs on SMTM. The beat was hella old school and I loved it. He showed a level of confidence that only he could do.
Rank 4: Song Minjae – PLUMA! There is something about this kid that was mesmerizing. He has the ability regardless of how short the bars, it sounds like a fully realized song.
Rank 5: Yeom Tae Gyun – People be hating on idol rappers but lets be honest, this is one of the best stages because he has the ease with being on stage. This felt trendy and on point.
Rank 6: Yoon Jiho – Master of hook! I immediately cancelled him because the hair was not it but after this round I kept singing the hook to myself. Impression made, sir.
Rank 7: Kang Seobin – Yung Chens is a mood. I was pleasantly surprised and glad that he could rap as tight as he did. His stage presence is as big as his appetite for sure.
Rank 8: Nam Junhyuk – I was expecting this to be trash but surprisingly this kids’ flow was tight and charismatic.
This was a really good round as well. More rappers fell when given the challenge and it was expected. But I was impressed with how they handled the beats.
Rank 1: Kwon Oh Seon – To think that this kid is as young as he is or as inexperienced… shook. He came and snatched everyone’s wig and when he started dancing… I almost threw my shoe like Jay Park.
Rank 2: Song Minjae – Just like I said before… this kid knows how to make anything into a full song. The hook is so catchy. 4 hours to my hometown!
Rank 3: Heo Wonhyuk – So vapo! This doesn’t seem like the easiest beat to rap on but he took the challenge and really captured my heart in the process. His blending of Korean and Portuguese doesn’t come across as a hinderance at all.
Rank 4: Kim Jaeha – It is short and he beat Trade L for the chance to rap first and he didn’t disappoint. Jaeha’s tone is really captivating.
Rank 5: Kim DaHyeon – Thank you Jay Park for letting this baby go again after his lyrical mistakes because regardless of it, he killed it. This Jeju boy is full of talent and charisma that I’m sure he is going to be signed SUPER quick.
Rank 6: Ji Hyunmin – I at first thought he was YLN Foreign but alas I was wrong. Hyunmin wasn’t intimidated by this popular beat and put his own flavor on it. His tone felt unique and I was vibing.
Rank 7: Kim MinWoo – This beat gives me chills and I was sure that no one could live up to the original but this kid held his own. Wish I could have heard more of him on it.
Rank 8: Yeom Tae Gyun – Who would have thought bars over a Justin Bieber song would slap this hard. But it is his chicken wings line that sold it for me.
This round was sad because it was where the infamous MNET blur became more of a hinderance. Either way, I thought that the groups that did do well picked better beats and had better team work. Leave your egos at the door children!
Rank 1: The Quiett’s Han Gan Gang – This was basically the avengers of groups. Each brought their own flavor to the song and each are AMAZING rappers. Their stage presence was on point as well. This is the product of knowing the assignment as the kids say.
Rank 2: Wyclef Jean’s Young Thug – Hwang Sehyun KILLED this hook. His raspy voice really elevated it to something that felt original. Also helped that this was a team of rappers who have great sense of self when performing.
Rank 3: Yumdda’s Call Me – Master hook is back at it again. This is a crazy ass ear worm and Sangjae with that weird autotuned voice… it works. Only thing that didn’t work was Eunseo. It’s not that he’s a bad rapper, he’s just not found his identity.
Rank 4: Kendrick Lamar’s Backseat Freestyle – Choo really owned this performance with his hypnotizing hook. These three needed this since they had the infamous MNET blur going on with their last member.
1 v 1 Battle
This round had a lot of good performances but I felt like everyone was on some emotional shit and felt the need to let us all know about it. Sad rap for all.
Rank 1: Kim Woorim – D.Ark really showed that he isn’t just capable of fast and tight rapping in this round. He was really able to show his rang as an artist and I was here for it.
Rank 2: Kim DaHyeon – Everyone was shook at the kid that beat D.Ark in a 1v1 but lets be honest, this kid has got the it factor. His rapping is on par with some of the more experienced contestants. Well deserved.
Rank 3: Lee Seunghoon – This was one of his better solo stages from the show. He started to really shed his nerves and the expectations he put on himself from performing in front of his CEO. Kid did well.
Rank 4: Kang Seobin – I legit teared up to this one. Basically a song for his mom and you could hear the emotion in each word. I love you Yung Chens!
Rank 5: Lee Jungwoon – I wasn’t about his Korean Drill rap for a while but this one really made me look at him differently. He really had that swag the mentors kept going on about.
Rank 6: Hwang Sehyun – His raspy voice really makes you want to listen to more. This song is just a vibe and I am really waiting for his solo stuff.
These were some of the best songs I have heard in a long time and it makes me wonder if these mentors are producing their best shit for these survival shows.
Rank 1: Team Changmo & WayChed – From the beat, hook and even the way organized the order of rappers, this was the best song. Team WayMo went in as winners and it showed. I loved everything about this song and when I heard that Changmo hook I knew this was it.
Rank 2: Team Simon Dominic & Loco – This that hood shit. Seoul hood but hood shit nonetheless. I didn’t really know what drill music was until recently but this song is the closest thing I can associate it with. This song and performance is that hype shit that make you wanna fuck someone up.
Rank 3: Team The Quiett & YUMDDA – Something about this group just feels like the mentors aren’t trying very hard but that’s what makes this team work. The vibe is chill and the hook is addictive. I just don’t understand the random titles. But Jaeha SLAYED his verse.
Rank 4: Team H1GHR – This hurt my soul that it didn’t do as well because I’m a whore for H1GHR. (lol) I think this performance would have been better if the members had a little more confidence. But I love Lil Bemo and Park Hyeonjin’s vibe. This def came across as a song that had Jay Park lay hands on it.
Textbook Rap Battle
I feel like because it’s covid and MNET needed to fill the time, they had hella battles. In past seasons, this would have come and gone already but alast, here we are. Instead of doing all the songs, I went with my top 5.
Rank 1: Team H1GHR – Park Hyeonjin & Lee Dahyeon – THEY KILLED IT! This was youthful and hella catchy. I still find myself trying to do the foot dance. Perfect for the youngest contestants.
Rank 2: Team The Quiett & YUMDDA – Kim Jaeha & Hwang Se-hyeon – This shit is the vibe. I really don’t understand how this didn’t come in the top. Jaeha really proved how stable of a rapper he is. And Sehyeon needs a career as a hook maker.
Rank 3: Team H1GHR – Lee Jeongwoon – I don’t know if it was the fact that he had Jay on the track, but this shit went hard.
Rank 4: Team Simon Dominic & Loco – Kang Joseph & Noh Yoonha – Thank you Gray for providing the perfect beat for these two. Kang Joseph’s sing rap went perfect and it was a softer look for Yoonha.
Rank 5: Team Changmo & Way Ched – Kim Woorim & Park Kang Baek – I still can’t with Baegie’s voice but D.Ark saved it. Their dynamic was cute to watch and made the song enjoyable.
Again, this was a round that had so many good performances and I listen to all the tracks on repeat. But I’ll try not to be too bias and pick only my top 5.
Rank 1: Team H1GHR – Kim Dahyeon – I really don’t know how this performance didn’t give him a ticket to the finals. It was amazing. I loved the theme about being island boys. Each artists’ raps complemented each other. It was a great synergy. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Rank 2: Team The Quiett & YUMDDA – Kim Jaeha – This seriously was the little team that could. The hook was perfect and the addition of the live band gave it a vibe the others didn’t really have. Jaeha rapped as if he was carrying the whole team on his back.
Rank 3: Team Changmo & Way Ched – Kim Woorim – D.Ark legit showed so many different sides of himself with each stage and this was no difference. This was super emotional and then to have SUPERBEE was the cherry on top.
Rank 4: Team Simon Dominic & Loco – Heo Won-hyuk – SO VAPO! This was the cutest and saddest thing. Wonhyuk got to tell his story in a way that was authentic to him. And him and BIBI were just adorable.
Rank 5: Team Changmo & Way Ched – Lee Seunghoon – They had me at Changmo playing the piano. But every time Trade L gets his sing on, I’m shook. It was another emotional performance but done really well.
I legit waited weeks, dodging spoilers and everything just so I could watch the finale with subs. I’m proud of myself and glad I waited because just like the proud noona I am, all my children did so well!
Rank 5: Team Simon Dominic & Loco – Noh Yoonha – This was a stable performance from a contestant that showed that the whole time. I think I wasn’t as wow’d by it because I kinda expected something like this. The best thing was the Nucksal feature.
Rank 4: Team Simon Dominic & Loco – Lee Sangjae – My love for Sangjae has been up and down all season but I have to admit this was his best stage. His confidence came through and I loved the space concept. The autotune voice is just a bit for me. I did love Loco and SsamD’s verses wayyyy more.
Rank 3: Team H1GHR – Park Hyeonjin – Baby Jay Park finally got to perform with him. Just proves that this is the lane that Hyeonjin needs to stay in. He has the vocals of an idol and the swag of a rapper and that only comes with experience. I also loved how they included the other H1GHR team members. Redemption!
Rank 2: Team Changmo & Way Ched – Lee Seunghoon – This was the first time I can say I really saw the persona of Trade L on stage. I could see the kid that was rapping with the rest of H1GHR in those compilation videos. But they really had me the moment Wonstein came out. The song is jazzy with a nice hook.
Rank 1: Team Changmo & Way Ched – Kim Woorim – Talk about doing your best! Everything from the stage production to his bars… perfect. This song had the cocky attitude from old D.Ark mixed with this new artist vibe he has. Then to have miss Jessi giving that PNation flavor on the stage. My favorite part was how he basically incorporated his HSR4 song journey into the bridge of the song. And then the dancing! This was a winning performance.
Since it’s been 3 weeks since the finale, spoiler alert, Lee Seunghoon and Team Changmo & Way Ched took the title. At the end, I could have seen any of the final 5 being the winners. They said how they started at 40 and made it to 5 and that made me think about all the talent that was on that stage this season. Congrats to all the contestants because now is the time where you really gotta put in the work. I really hope they have another season of this and without the audience because I think that made it way much better. But in the mean time, I’ll go binge the other seasons and you can watch the special stage with some talked about contestants.