The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] 'My goal from the start was runner-up'

Up-and-coming rapper Huh makes his first comeback after ending second place on 'Show Me the Money'

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Feb. 24, 2023 - 17:12

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Images of Huh's double-single Images of Huh's double-single

The key to staying inside the realm of stardom is making hay while the sun shines, and rapper Huh, the runner-up of the latest 11th season of "Show Me the Money," is doing just this.

Less than two months after the end of the hip-hop survival show, Huh, who goes by his real name Heo Sung-hyun locally, is making a swift comeback on Friday with a two-track album titled "Midnight Law."

"Some people vanish soon after getting the spotlight in a TV show because they're not ready. Success is not only about getting that spotlight, but making it last," Huh said during an interview conducted on Monday in Seoul ahead of his album release.

Huh said he had steps to follow after "Show Me the Money" ended all planned out in his mind even before the show began in October. It was possible as this was his third time taking part in the multi-season series. Huh fell out early in the eighth season, which aired in 2019, and returned in the ninth season the year after. There, though he made a name for himself, he didn't get the final win.

In the 11th season of "Show Me the Money," Huh vied against the star rapper Lee Young-ji to become the show's runner-up. Appearing in the latest episode of rapper-producer Jay Park's music talk show "The Seasons," Huh said he wasn't at all disappointed at the result but thought he had and Young-ji had a "good competition."

"I'm overwhelmed to have gotten second place. It's not a disappointing outcome at all," Huh said during Monday's interview, elaborating on what he had said in "The Seasons."

"It was my goal to place second, so I've actually achieved my goal. If you win, you have to endure the weight of the title as the final winner of a survival show, and I didn't want to carry that burden as the winner," the 24-year-old said, explaining he had learned the lesson from his multiple experiences in the hip-hop competition.

Huh had pushed his boundaries with every season, and this is what made fans root for him and follow his steps. Huh came out into the mainstream from the underground with the eighth season, signed with his first label, Amoeba Culture, with the ninth season, and finally reached the stardom with the 11th.

What differed the most in the latest contest was his confidence in himself, Huh said.

"In the eighth and ninth seasons, before going into shoot, I used to think how sad it would be if I had to come home at the end of the day because I'd lost. But this time, there wasn't any room for such worries because I was just excited for how I would surprise people with every performance," he said.

Images of Huh's double-single Images of Huh's double-single

His confidence was based on his talent, which he had built up from the scratch. Huh started his career in 2019 as an independent rapper with his song "No. 1." Through "Show Me the Money" season nine, he got into the eyes of hip-hop duo Dynamic Duo and joined their label Amoeba Culture in 2021. He dropped his first single under the label, "Uh-uh" in the same year and went onto release his debut LP "926" in 2022.

The biggest task at hand for Huh is narrowing the gap between the image he had built in the program and the direction he has in mind for himself.

"I don't always do 'pretty' music. I may stray from people's expectations and might even disappoint them. Music is how I show myself to the world, so it cannot always be perfect. I'm always thinking about what the best way would be," Huh said.

This is the reason he turned "Midnight Law" into a two-track package, the rapper said. Through the two songs, "Midnight Law" and "HDYF (How Do You Feel)," Huh said he hopes to show the two contrasting colors of his musical style.

"I wanted to give a glimpse of where I am headed with my music through the songs," he said. "I’ll be writing songs on the everyday emotions I feel in my life, such as the love and the pain of breakups, while also talking about my confidence and pride in my music."

Carrying the sorrow and heartbreak Huh had felt after he parted with his lover is the first track, "Midnight Law." Huh teamed up in singing, composing and songwritng with rapper Skinny Brown for the song.

"This song is based on an emotion I felt fairly recently. My stories become my music, and while I don't feel that many different emotions in life, love takes up a big part," he said.

The second track "HDYF" shouts out the question "How do you feel?" to those who looked down on him in the past. While negativity does not discourage him at all, it sometimes becomes a source of inspiration for his music, he said.

"I actually look up malicious comments regularly. I don't get hurt by them, but just consider them as different opinions. They're actually motivations for new songs, and the second song ('HDYF') was one created like that," Huh said.

"HDYF" also comes with a music video. According to Huh, while "Midnight Law" strikes a chord with popular trends, he wanted give more spotlight to "HDYF."

The second track, for which Huh helped pen the lyrics, features rapper Hash Swan.

Huh hoped the songs could stay with the listeners for a long time, rather than soaring briefly on the charts and disappearing.

"I don't usually have chart goals. I'd be happy if even a handful of people understood the songs' messages and my reason for putting out a two-track album now. So many songs come and go these days, and I hope that my songs could be heard for a long time," Huh said.

Images of Huh's double-single Images of Huh's double-single

Huh initially began music with singing. He was recognized for his rapping by the instructor at his singing academy and shifted his course to becoming a rapper. Even now, Huh said he listens to ballad more than hip-hop music.

When the time comes, Huh said he wants to drop an album that consists of non-rap songs.

Huh is busy these days with scheduled activities that come with the end of "Show Me the Money" in December. He recently made his public broadcast debut with Jay Park's music show and did some fashion shoots with major magazines.

The budding rapper said he hoped to drop an extended-length album within this year.

"I want to make a large package of several songs, not just one or two, that conveys my everyday life in more detail," he said.

He also has plans to hold a standalone concert within this year. Right now he is touring around the nation holding concerts with fellow "Show Me the Money" participants.

"The tour is absolutely amazing. Everyone knows me there because they're coming after watching the show. They sing along to all the songs and even do events for me. I can actually feel the big love I'm getting, and that's the best part," he said.

Huh will perform at the last show for the "Show Me the Money" tour in Daegu on Saturday.