In the pulsing heart of Seoul’s hip-hop scene, Sik-K, born Kwon Min-sik, is carving his own path in the industry. His distinct blend of trap beats, charismatic flow, and evocative lyricism has garnered him a loyal and rapidly expanding fanbase.
Now the head of his own label, KC, he continues to hone an authentic sound that resonates with his experiences and beliefs. His latest album, POP A LOT, is a testament to his evolution, offering a tasteful blend of sounds with inventive visuals to match. During his latest stop in Hong Kong, the rapper sat down with us to discuss his journey so far — touching upon his latest album, launching his own record label, and what the future holds.
WORDS: AARON CHOW
VIDEO/PHOTOGRAPHY: RYAN PUTRANTO
PRODUCER: AMBROSE LEUNG
SPECIAL THANKS: ONIONPRODUCTION
Following consecutive days of gloom and seasonal showers, the weather finally cleared up and blessed us with clear blue skies. In good spirits, we hopped on a cab and arrived at Hong Kong International Airport to greet Sik-K, who was scheduled to perform that evening.
Sik was flying from Mexico, where he and his team had been working nonstop for two weeks. Considering he had just embarked on a 20-hour journey, we expected a sunglasses-on, head-down level of energy. His entrance, however, was quite the contrary, emerging out of the arrival hall with a pep in his step as he high-fived wide-eyed fans shouting “OPPA!” from the guardrails.
“I want to make the scene inside Korea more connected while becoming more globalised. Bumping, unified, and mobbing outside. That’s my concept [for KC].”
While some artists choose to be more reserved in public, coming to life in the build-up of their performances, it felt as if Sik was ready to hop on stage at any moment. We caught him in an exciting period of transition. After departing from Jay Park’s H1GHER MUSIC label on good terms earlier this year, he now embarks on a new chapter as the CEO of his very own record label, KC (케이씨).
“I want to make the scene inside Korea more connected while becoming more globalised. Bumping, unified, and mobbing outside. That’s my concept [for KC],” he told us backstage as his team prepared his stage outfit and readied DJ SMMT.
The first artist to join the KC roster is HAON, a former labelmate making a name for himself at age 23. While driving his own career at light speed, Sik-K is deeply committed to his role as a mentor. The synergy is evident in their new joint project titled ALBUM ON THE WAY!, which was released ahead of both of their solo albums.
“I want to make HAON, the kid… perfect. He’s about to release the first LP so I’m really focused on that right now. l want them to be able to just do whatever they want because they’re young. It’s kind of hard though because I have nothing but love for HAON and we’re really close in person so it’s hard for me to be cold and critical.”
“We can help each other to promote the music and take it further. If I do a really good performance at some place, they might come and see me a second time. I’m building off each show every time. “
Sik recognizes that the way forward is collaboration. Through touring, he’s constantly scaling up while building bridges for his team and peers, underpinning the importance of camaraderie in his journey.
“The first step is for me to bring my homies on my tour or so I can support them on their tours,” he said of his recent string of performances abroad. “We can help each other to promote the music and take it further. If I do a really good performance at some place, they might come and see me a second time next time, I’m building off each show every time. Next time, bigger. Next time, tight, compact, with fewer mistakes. It is just another step on the journey. It’s not final yet.”
During rehearsals, he carried himself with poise and a sense of responsibility that only comes from experience. While having clear demands for excellence, he glides through it all with a natural charm and air of silliness. “After the tour, my friends and I talk, and it’s just a good memory,” he says, “Laugh always. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Sik-K’s interest in music sparked during his high school years, inspired partly by the seminal album Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne. Since then, he has been keen on creating an authentic sound that resonates with his experiences and beliefs, a sound that has evolved significantly over the years. For his solo album, POP A LOT, Sik-K expresses his own outlook and interpretation of K-pop. It will be his first full body of music since becoming KC CEO and he isn’t one to disappoint.
“I have a little different attitude to pop music in Korea and I want to express what I can do in the new album,” he says. “For POP A LOT there’s a lot of different sounds. I go to a lot of parties. I pop a lot of champagne, so that came from this idea. I’d say it’s my favourite album so far.”
While known as a musician, the draw for Sik-K is as much audio as it is visual and instinctual. His free-spirited personality and non-conformist attitude shine through in his imaginative music videos and bold personal style. Thug Club, a breakout streetwear imprint from Seoul he discovered while in the army, is currently one of his favorite brands.
“They’re the ones who do whatever they want to do — on design and promotion. I felt that crazy feeling they were putting out and I talked to him [founder Thug Min]. We worked on a project together and we’re really good homies right now. Big shoutout to Thug Club.”
TC is behind his custom “Sik My D*ck” boxers, combining his stage name and one of the label’s best-selling products. As a trailblazer representing youth culture in South Korea, he makes sure to highlight other brands pushing the local scene forward including Post Archive Faction and Jiyong Kim as well as progressive Japanese streetwear brand Black Eye Patch.
“The routine is just workout four or five days a week. If I have a shoot, then more stuff. I’m doing chicken breast and rice every day. Two meals at least a day.”– Sik-K on his fitness routine
When he’s not in the studio or mentoring young artists, Sik-K maintains a rigorous fitness ritual. “The routine is just workout four or five days a week,” he says. “If I have a shoot, then more stuff. I’m doing chicken breast and rice every day. At least two meals a day.”
That consistency and dedication to progress have allowed him to realize the visions he had as a high schooler in Vancouver — the fun-loving and aspirational self that came up with the Instagram handle @younghotyellow94.
From his humble beginnings to his current position as a trendsetter in the Korean music scene, Sik-K’s journey in music is a result of passion, authenticity, and a relentless spirit. As he continues to push boundaries with his music and KC, fans and fellow artists alike eagerly anticipate what the KC CEO will come up with next.