Big Bang rapper and bandleader G-Dragon can trace the moment he wanted to become a rapper to when he heard one particular album–the 1993 East Coast hip-hop masterpiece “Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.”
In an interview published in the September issue of the magazine Complex, G-Dragon credited the debut album from the Staten Island rap group Wu-Tang Clan, which he refers to as a “biblical, holy piece of music” as his reason for wanting to pursue a career as a rapper.
“I started rapping because of that album,” the Big Bang leader said.
“I’m not fluent in English now, but back then I didn’t know anything. I would write down the lyrics to [the album’s classic single] ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ in Korean, not translating it, but phonetically writing out each word.”
Although he was only five years old when “Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers” was released G-Dragon dropped his first solo single “My Age Is 13,” on the South Korean hip-hop compilation “Flex” just eight years later, earning a reputation as the country’s youngest rapper.
Now 25, G-Dragon, whose real name is Kwon Ji Young, began his career the same year he first heard that pivotal Wu-Tang Clan album, singing with the group Little Roora between the age of five and eight.
According to the website bigbangupdates.com, the young Kwon was crushed when Little Roora’s record label decided to terminate the group.
“As an 8-year old, I was shocked,” G-Dragon said.
“I thought I would continue to become a singer [with Little Roora]. I even told my mom that I wouldn’t do it again. And then I lived a normal life as a student.”
But fate had other plans for the future star, when attending a ski resort with his family where his record label S.M. Entertainment was holding a dance competition.
G-Dragon won the contest and the label signed him to their famous “trainee” program.
“I was a trainee for about seven years,” the rapper recalled. “Those were really difficult times. I was stressed out a lot. I have a lot of dark and painful memories. But for some reason, those days were the most fun, because we didn’t have anything.”
After spending his pre-teen years preparing to be a K-pop star, the rapper was plucked to front the newly formed YG Entertainment boy band Big Bang, but G-Dragon claims the group had considerable creative control from the beginning.
“At the time of our debut, we were the only idol group who produced and wrote our own music,” he said. “It wasn’t like someone gave us songs and told us exactly what to do.”