BeWhy

The Birth of Korean CHH Part II: BeWhy – Neo-Christian?

In part one, I referenced a show titled Show Me the Money (SMTM). It’s a reality TV show that pairs upcoming rappers with existing trending Korean Hip-Hop producers to make songs with them. Ultimately it can lead to the opportunity to be signed to a label/featured producer on that season.

Prior to YDG, I didn’t follow the secular hip-hop shows due to the fact I am older and I realized that a lot of these contestants have been around for over 10-years and aren’t new or are talking about the same things the trap rappers are talking about in the United States. My Korean pastor’s daughter told me of a young man named BeWhy (비와이) also known as Lee Byung Yoon(이병윤) in 2016 and urged me to check him out.



BeWhy was gaining popularity as an outspoken Christian and a beast on the mic. I checked him out and now that I think about it, he reminded me of the battle rappers Street Hymns and Th3 Saga, taking it straight to culture that I read and watched on Rapzilla not so long ago. He gave me a bit of hope I hadn’t felt in a while for the youth.

He appeared as a contestant on Show Me the Money (SMTM) in 2015, 2016, and Kill Bill in 2019. BeWhy then returned as a judge for SMTM in 2019 and 2020 which was a great accomplishment after being a contestant the prior years. For those who have heard of him, I’m sure many fans will have a favorite song that he performed so I will leave that to the comments section since I have seen a few since the posting of my first article.

The paragraphs below summarize a few of the auditions and performances and barely scratches, but I have provided them so you don’t have to spend hours on YouTube watching them unless you want to. I included a few translations so you can see how he came out the gate unashamed and even the judges knew this.

SMTM 2016 Audition – 1st preliminary round [No English Subtitles] (Rap starts at 1:40)

Translation on Screen: Who will win this rap battle?

Video Summary: He speaks of being talented and going to be able to make it on the show because the public remembers him and he didn’t make it (the classic rap battle contest stuff), while the last few lines again set his standard of battle rapping.

BeWhy:

I will move the crowd
I will make the culture, I will move for Christ
John 3:16 engraved in before my home life (affairs)

2nd Preliminary round  – [English Subtitles]

Video Summary: At the end, the judges are discussing who they want on their team and they say, “I don’t think he’ll join our team because he’s a dedicated Christian,” and one jokes, “I used to be in the choir at church.”

The judges are famous in the secular Hip-Hop scene, Gil has been active in the hip-hop scene since 1999 as the hip-hop group Honey Family and then a duo LeeSsang with fellow Honey Family member, Gary. If any of the readers have ever enjoyed the Korean TV comedy show “Running Man,” you have probably enjoyed Gary and his humor with his actress/co-star Ji-Hyo.

Show Me The Money 5 Performance [English Subtitles]

Video Summary: The chorus is a play on Korean words, BeWhy is his rap name, Bi-wa (is Korean for ‘raining’) so ‘forever raining’ is the chorus, or it could be translated ‘forever BeWhy.’ At the end of the performance is where his lyrics really stand out.

BeWhy: (3:28-3:33)

I will take over the world, I will keep getting introduced forever
Even if I don’t I keep walking
I placed all faith in Jesus
If he wants me to go I will, if not I won’t go.

(4:02)

You don’t need to try to remember, everyone will know BeWhy anyways
Like the obvious nature of the almightiness of God who made me
Rather than my skills, my lifestyle that you hate, but this beautiful time

For the sake of time, we’ll fast track ahead after the release of his three solo albums;

  • Time travel (2015)
  • The Blind Star (2017)
  • The Movie Star (2019)

To those who have listened to these albums, you may critique them and say ‘but there are no blaring CHH classics!’ You may even say this is reaching really far with a few mentions of God at the end of almost every song or rap battle but there is for those who have sat through multiple seasons of SMTM, you would have seen that he never backs down when speaking about God and his purpose.

BeWhy has even said in his lyrics that he will not be swept up by the fame and not forget his purpose even though he will stop striving to get better and better.

Although I was impressed with his delivery and the visuals for a popular song, “가라사대 (BeWhy Says)” as a film major in art school, I decided to just see if anything more solid would come out if his art would just digress as seems to do so with young creatives.  (Link) [English Subtitles] I’m glad I kept him on my radar while reverting back to my regular American CHH playlist until he dropped a collaboration album with an artist called Simba Zawadi titled Neo-Christian that caught my ear. The title track of this album was “Hymn” and also had beautiful futuristic visuals. (LINK) [English Subtitles)

After this, he has released quite a few more singles including the OST*(Original Soundtrack) for a manhwa (Webtoon Comic*) “Itaewon Class 이태원 클라쓰” and an OST for manhwa turned Netflix live-action Home Sweet Home, titled “Side by Side나란히.”[Link] [English Subtitles]

I recommend if you are open to checking out Korean CHH and love battle rapping, check out his prior performances on SMTM (쇼미더머니) or Kill Bill (킬빌) on YouTube.

Disclaimer: Before you check out the Neo-Christian album, I want to say that this album can feel like a more focused Donda album, the features almost feel out of place and unnecessary. Although the profanity (either in Korean or English) is scarce; only on two of the seven tracks, I have indicated them with an asterisk and provided the details below if you choose to skip them.

Track 3, Simba Zawadi does us the S-word in Korean, it feels out of place since the entire track is solid.

Track 5, starts off great but the featured artist drops the f-word in English and Korean and is not an outspoken Christian like BeWhy. Honestly, the song could have ended about two minutes before the additional features were added.

Track Listing:

  1. Holy Ghost is Coming Down
  2. Hymn
  3. Neo-Christian Flow*
  4. David N Elijah
  5. 어디로(Where do I go God? Let Me Know, God)*
  6. 파송예배 (Commissioning Service)
  7. Church in the Wild

[Neo-Christian Album Playlist Link]

The internet and technology have progressed so far that it has opened the door for artists from other countries to collaborate in ways I would have never thought possible. Also, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would love to see Korean CHH do some crossovers and some CHH artists on some tracks since they seem to be struggling to find like-minded artists who love the Lord in South Korea.

Let’s keep this young man in prayer who seems to be exploring expressing his Christian faith very articulately in a secular industry as an independent artist where expression can become muddied by additional features of other secular popular rappers for the sake of “acknowledging their talents” instead of the One who gave them.

*WebToons is a phone app that uploads episodes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis instead of physical comics

Are there any other Christian rap artists from Korea you’d like to see?







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Written by Brandon Roots

Brandon Roots is a husband, father of three, Hebrew teacher and someone who enjoys singing and learning songs in any language that praise the Lord from Sacramento, California.

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