“It G Ma”, the insanely aggressive rap anthem from South Korean rappers Keith Ape, JayAllDay, Okasian and Japanese rappers Loota and Kohh, became the Nerdist Anthem while most of our editorial staff were on site in Austin for South By Southwest. It was the first song that Dan, Malik, and I all heard during what would be 10 days of infinite music, and it was easily our most referenced and revisited track of the trip.
Why? Well, for one it f–king bangs. Hard to argue with 5 million views (and counting) and a sound that American hip-hop listeners are already primed to love (though a lot of people have criticized “It G Ma” for mimicking the intense trap bursts of rapper OG Maco’s “U Guessed It”). Without knowing exactly what all the rappers are saying, aside from stray explosions of profanity or shouts of “under-WATER SQUAD”, you can’t help but viscously shake your entire body. The song, by virtue of being partially in Japanase, Korean, and English, relies most heavily on cadence, tone, attitude and bass. Those are all criteria that most hip-hop heads have as a mental checklist when determining if a new artist is worth listening to (if you’ve ever listened to Lil Wayne, Young Thug, or Future and had no idea what the hell they were saying but found yourself bumping your head anyway, then you know exactly what I am talking about).
But there is also the intrigue factor of how a seemingly culturally distant collective of young people are making such overtly westernized music, even going so far as to phonetically spell out the Korean phrase for “Don’t you know?” for their song title. Even if you absolutely hate everything about this song, you cannot help but at least be transfixed by the cultural and visual overload that is this insane music video. At this point in time, it’s safe to say that American audiences are more familiar with the hyper-bubbly k-pop and j-pop acts that dominate audiences in their respective countries. The only Asian crossover hit that everyone is familiar with in 2015 is Psy’s “Gagnam Style”, and that was a hit of unprecedented proportions that took off due to the global popularity of EDM. And though there has been hip hop coming out of either country for a while–it’s uncanny to hear something sound so foreign and familiar at once.
Though it took a long time for the Nerdist to crew to process why we loved the track so much, we definitely all knew right away. For a good idea of what Malik, Dan, and I looked like the second or third time listening to “It G Ma”, please refer to the vine below:
#UnderwaterSquad for life.