Hip-Hop is alive and well in Korea with such big names as Dynamic Duo, Iron, Simon D, Jay Park, Tiger JK, and hundreds of other great artists. But what is also garnering a lot of attention is the underground scene as well. Officially KMusic was honored with an interview with Official Gemini, a San Diego-based rapper who has build up a reputation with his amazing covers, remixes, and original lyrics.
Born Paul Jeong, GMNI (as it is stylized) has always had a love for music. Through his music you can understand that his past wasn’t always the best, but music was a way to find happiness. “I’ve always loved music. Music has always been my outlet, a way to express myself and to alleviate my everyday pains. Its funny, I started realizing music was my thing when I was in high school, I wasn’t very social at the time, so the only way I could speak to people was through “poems” and music.”
I got into GMNI when I stumbled across his YouTube channel, Official Gemini, and saw he had done a remix of G-Dragon and TaeYang’s ‘Good Boy’. I was hooked. The lyrics were original and flowed really well with the beat of the song. My favorite happens to be his Rap Monster ‘각성 (覺醒)’ cover/remix. I put that one on repeat at least once a week. When I asked GMNI what his favorite songs were, he answered with “My favorite remixes, if I had to choose, would be ‘Fear’ by Mino Feat Tae Yang and ‘각성 (覺醒)(Awakening)’ by Rap Monster. They’re my favorite because even though I make songs that are uplifting, I also make songs where people can relate to my struggles as well. Some of my fans know that I’ve been and currently am going through my own obstacles, so it’s my way of showing them a side of me they don’t know. And another has to be ‘Born Hater’ by Epik High. I think that was the video that made everything happen for me. I remember Epik High held a contest around the world and I was like You know what I’m just gonna see how my video does and from there I’m here now.”
Most artists will travel to their fans, and GMNI is no exception. I had the pleasure of meeting him at KCON LA 2015, so I was curious on what his favorite location had been and where he wished to go in the future. According to the artist, “hmm, my favorite city, even though it wasn’t the States, was Toronto, Canada. I loved it, I never knew I had fans up in Canada, and the love they were giving me was incredible. The energy was positive and the reactions were priceless. What amazed me was people in the crowd were rapping along to my songs. Haha, I loved Canada. I hope to go back soon. The city that I wish I could perform has to be New York. I’ve performed in Virginia and Philadelphia, but I never had the chance to go and perform [in New York] only for business ventures.”
One of the cool things about GMNI is that he has been able to work with some people who have influenced him as an artist. He told me, when I asked who were some of his favorite to work with and who would he like to work with that, “if you’re talking about upcoming rappers it has to be my best friend, Aaron Lim. I remember listening to him and actually being inspired to upload videos from him. Very talented and passionate with his work and also having positive energy even when we’re not making music. Shout out to my brother, Aaron. If you’re talking about famous artists that I opened for, it has to be YDG and Iron hyung. Working and opening for them had to be one of my highlights this year (2015) . I remember I watched them on SMTM (Show Me The Money) and even before that, I was a fan. They were real from the start and I respect them for being real humble. Shout outs to YDG and Iron hyung, Hope to see yall when I touchdown in Korea.”
Having known he had worked with such big names, it was natural to know where he took his inspiration from. GMNI listed that some of his biggest influences were Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Tupac, Biggie, Rakim, August Alsina, Eminem, Tiger JK, Yoon MiRae (Tasha), Epik High (especially Tablo), and many more. I will have to say, I love most of those artists on that list and they are just as passionate for their music as GMNI.
Being a writer for a music magazine, I had to ask the one obvious question. With GMNI being an artist with his foot in both the American market and the Korean market, what is his goal regarding his music and the music entertainment world? “Haha, I get asked this all the time. Right now is the perfect time to combine the industries. My goal is to break into the American market and break stereotypes. I also want to break into the Korean market as well. Currently I am just working on new music trying to work on other ventures and keep progressing.” was his response.
Stepping out from the music talk, I was curious about some unknown facts about Paul. Surprisingly he said that he use to be 220 lbs, which is amazing because GMNI is so fit in all his photos. I admire his perseverance in his amazing weight loss. He also loves food. His list of favorite food ranged from cheeseburgers, to ice cream, BBQ (didn’t matter if it was American or Korean), tacos, burritos, fries, steak, beef bowls, and strawberries. I like how he added strawberries at the end. Definitely keeping it fresh.
I wanted to wrap up the interview focusing back on music, because GMNI is one amazing artist. As a fan of his, I really was curious if he would release a physical CD of his works, and if he had a fanclub. Sadly, I have to wait for both to be established as GMNI doesn’t have a name for his fans, nor does he think he will come up with one anytime soon. Also, he isn’t planning on making a physical mixtape, but he did say that maybe next year. I will wait patiently for both.
It was such a thrill interviewing GMNI! He really strips away that hip-hop persona because though he spits fire in his lyrics, he is so nice and genuine in person. That’s something the fans love about him and it can be hard to find in the hip-hop/rap scene. You can catch Official Gemini on his various SNS platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
I want to thank Gemini for his time in sitting down with me in this interview. Not only did I enjoy it as a fan, but I really enjoy learning more about who he is as a person and the music industry.
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Photography by Nicole Duque of UrbanWanderlust
Music Video by Official Gemini/ Rap Monster of BTS
Edited by: Morgan Oswald
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