The perfect combination of rough & smooth with GINJIN
“When you have millions of views on YouTube, it becomes your tool to show them that you da shit.”
Our May cover star is Mongolian rapper GINJIN. He’s right at the top of the Mongolian Rap game, alongside his partner in crime, Mrs M. GINJIN has been rhyming since his teen years, but his first big hit came in 2014 with ‘Ugzug Saihan Bol Zus Saihan’ [If the ass looks good, it all looks good.] Working with seminal Mongolian producer Lil Thug-E, he started to develop a new sound for the Ulaan Bataar Rap scene – combining hard bars with melodic, Auto-Tuned-twinged singing on the hooks. This combination of rough and smooth vaulted him up to the top of the game - a disarming combination in a land where men are generally very macho.
It’s not a gimmick because GINJIN can really sing. He quickly became Mongolia’s top boy, and he’s been building on it ever since. In the past few years, he’s started venturing out of his local scene, collaborating with Hong Kong’s Dough-Boy and YZ from Taiwan. If Mrs M is the queen of the Mongolian scene, then GINJIN is truly the king. We caught up with him just before the drop of his latest single ‘Yellow Django’ – and trust us, it’s FIRE!
Yo GINJIN, it’s so good to link with you and find out what’s really good in your world. We’ve been following you for a while now and it’s great to finally get you on the cover.
Yo! What’s up, LiFTED? Thank you for having me! It is an honor.
You’re one of the most prolific rappers on the Mongolian scene. Your YouTube views are off the charts. Is YouTube the real music business in Mongolia?
I wouldn’t say YouTube is a business in Mongolia. It is more like your business card or badge. When you have millions of views on YouTube, it becomes your tool to show them that “you da shit” or you are a legit one. It’s just the biggest platform you can release your music and make your songs popular to Mongolians because Mongolians are not big users of Spotify or Apple yet.
Some of your most popular videos on YouTube like ‘Boroo’ [10 million views] and ‘Suvgaa Soli’ [7 million views] are with Mrs M. You guys make a very strong team, can you tell us how the partnership came about?
We first met back in 2016. I liked her style, her singing, basically everything. At that time I didn’t know she was a cousin of my brother-in-law. We did some small collabs throughout the years but in 2019 I approached her and offered to become a duo and make a joint album. Since then we have been working together successfully.
Mongolian Hip Hop has a 30-year legacy, which is crazy considering the country’s geography and history. Who were the OGs you looked up to when you were starting out? And who were the biggest US rappers who influenced you?
Mongolian rap started in 1992 with a group called Khar Tas. They were highly influenced by Public Enemy and Snap. But my all-time favorite group from Mongolia is Lumino. From the US, I have to say the whole southern Rap scene influenced me the most. Because at that time Andre 3000 said, ‘THE SOUTH GOT SOMETHING TO SAY’ and Outkast was changing the game.
You are carrying the torch now along with artists like Mrs M and Lil Thug-E. Can you tell us a little about the history of Hip Hop in Mongolia and how it feels to be walking in their footsteps?
As I mentioned, the group that started Rap music here was Khar Tas in 1992. At that time all the other groups who are OGs now were Hip Hop dancing groups. As far as I remember around 1996 or 1997 after Khar Tas, the real Hip Hop scene started here with groups such as Lumino, Ice Top, Digital, Dain ba Enkh, Erkh Choloo, etc. They were the pioneers, and they are the ones that opened the gate for Mongolian audiences to love Hip Hop music. Much Respect!
It seems like you haven’t released anything new for a little while, can you explain what’s been going on, and what’s happening now? Got any new heat dropping soon?
Last year I had a little vocal problem therefore I couldn’t work on new songs. But now I am recovering and more than ready to drop them heatrocks!
It’s pretty clear that you can rhyme in English after hearing ‘Hot Boy’ and the ‘Billboard’ track you did for VIBE Presents: Urban Asia Vol 3. How do you balance rhyming in Mongolian for your local fans and also spreading out into the wider world in English?
It’s all about the balance. Obviously, if I make songs only in English, I would lose a certain amount of my Mongolian listeners. So, I have to balance it out to keep my Mongolian fans happy, while at the same time attracting international listeners as well. Luckily, Mongolians have started listening to other countries’ Rap songs more in recent years due to the increased level of English learned by the population here. So hopefully one day I can make songs in English with no worries. But also, I always want to show off and keep my Mongolian customs, culture, and language in my songs.
You’ve collaborated with a few Asian rappers, like Dough-Boy from Hong Kong and a few others. Is collabs your strategy to break out wider in Asia?
Asia is not the only focus. I would say the whole world is my focus. But yeah Asia is one of the biggest markets in the world and Dough-Boy is the homie!
What’s your next single going to be? Can you tell us about it?
My next single is called ‘Yellow Django.’ You could say it’s my debut song to the world as it’s fully in English. I actually made the song in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19. At that time many of our fellow Asians were getting racially discriminated against due to the pandemic. So I wanted to protect and represent them, and that’s how the song was born.
Finally, what’s ahead for GINJIN in 2022 and beyond?