An Exclusive Interview With NAINA - Champion of Show Me The Money Thailand
From a schoolkid who loved to compose Pop songs during his free time, he had finally found his calling in the form of Hip-hop music. Now, he’d made it all the way to the top of Show Me The Money, a TV series from South Korea that is set out to find the country’s next Rap star. Piyawat Chirdpetcharat (Nai) a.k.a NAINA was recently crowned the champion of the show through his creative lyrics, sick flows, and smooth rhymes. Other than the endless praise he received from the judges and producers on the show, he had won the hearts of the viewers all around Thailand as well.
We had a chance to sit down and talked with NAINA himself along with the producers from Buddha Bless that includes Natee Ekwijit (Oui), Kittiphong Khamsat (M), and Suranan Chumtharathon (Tong). As our young rapper embarks on his journey towards Hip-Hop stardom, we take a look back at his humble beginnings and his future plans.
We began our conversation by asking NAINA about what he did at the start of his young Hip-hop career prior to his decision to join Show Me The Money Thailand. Turns out that this wasn’t the first competition he’d been in, but Show Me The Money Thailand was where he felt he was able to express his true personality at the best of his abilities. It was no question how he had swift through the Audition round and make his way to the Finals like we’ve seen.
NAINA: I’ve been producing music since I was in high school, but it was more geared towards the Pop genre. It was in my college years when I realized my interest in Hip-hop music and making a full switch into the genre. I started applying to all the Hip-hop programs available at that time, including Rap is now and Thai rap. Because most of the shows were focused on rap battles, I quickly realized that my skills weren’t up to par. My style isn’t as aggressive, plus, I didn’t have anyone to guide me then so…not a lot of success there.
Most of you may be wondering which song or rhyme on the show best represents the true personality of “NAINA”. He was quick to give us a lighthearted response.
NAINA: I would have to say that almost every rhyme was who I really was, except the round where we had to flirt with a girl (laughs). Whenever we were challenged to compose a song, I would always bring in my real-life experiences and draw inspirations from things around me.
What is Hip-Hop to you?
NAINA: For me, it's more of a culture as supposed to just a genre of music. I never define myself as Hip-Hop either, I just love to compose music and write up rhymes that’s all.
What was the hardest part of the competition? How did you get through it?
NAINA: That’s a tough question. I take on every stage of the competition as if I faced imminent elimination. I just wanted the show to reflect who I really was. It’s a feeling I can’t explain, all I can say is I did my best with every challenge I was presented throughout the show. Being crowned champion was something I never really hoped for.
Going through a competition like this, we all know that his life wasn’t going to be the same. We wanted to know by how much and in what way. The answer we got, however, was something we didn’t expect. He made us realize that his true goals and expectations of the show were never about himself, but it was for his “music”.
NAINA: The difference is that my music now has way more listeners and followers than before. From little to no attention back then, I now have tracks with over 100,000 views. It made me very happy.
What is going to be the next big thing for you after winning the Show Me The Money?
NAINA: I would continue making my music professionally. Even if I didn't win, I would still continue on this career path.
As with all winners of every competition, the glory also comes with countless criticisms and negativity. We wanted to know how NAINA would deal with them. All he told us was “let the work speak for itself”.
NAINA: We don’t need to care about what people say. Those people who criticise are often not in the position to even give a hint of disapproval. I just do what I need to do, and the results will speak for themselves.
Other than all the skills and talent that NAINA have shown to all of us throughout the competition, the producers from Buddha Bless also played a huge part in his success. The team consisted of Natee Ekwijit (Oui), Kittiphong Khamsat (M), and Suranan Chumtharathon (Tong). Their experience as both artists and producers in the Hip-hop industry helped NAINA get to where he is today. We asked him how it felt to work so closely with one of the most well-known producers in Thailand and how it has helped him grow.
NAINA: Where do I even begin? I’ve learned so much from them. When I told them I’ve never been on a real stage before, they taught me how to get comfortable with it. They helped with my word choice when I had to compose, but they never pressured me into doing something and always let me do what was really me. I’m glad I had a chance to work with them and enjoyed every minute of it.
We asked the producers what they think was the reason behind NAINA's success in Show Me The Money and why he was such a fan favorite. The agreed that it was his personality and abilities that made him the champion.
Oui: I think it was the fact that he was always himself and never pretending to be who he wasn’t. He wasn’t one to say much and had a quiet personality, but that was his true nature. When we world together, there’s this mutual respect between us. We let him write about what he really cared about and in return, he showed us who he really was inside. That, I think, was very important.
We asked the producers to tell us about the experience they had while working together in the team. Everybody had their own unique music style, so we wanted to know how everything worked out.
Oui: It really depends on the kid because everyone was truly unique in their own way. Like for NAINA…it was very easy for me to work with him because he was really open to our ideas. He had his own thing going, but instead of just running blindly with it he would present it to us and see what we think. As producers, we just had frame his ideas down and let him know what we liked and what we didn’t. The fact that he listens to us made it really easy to get the work done. We weren’t dictating his life or anything, if he really doesn’t like something we’ll respect his decision.
What’s the best part about producing music together?
Tong: Truth is, everyone on the team was really comfortable about being themselves. Each of their characters made the team an entertaining one. Like for NAINA, he always positive and even innocent at times. It made us feel like…yeah he’s really adorable (laughs).
Buddha Bless has been a household name in Thailand’s music industry for an extended amount of time. We asked them, based on their experience, about their perception of the country’s Hip-Hop scene right now. All of them said that it had improved tremendously.
Tong: Oh man…I really think we’re in a good place right now. All the younger generation of artists have made a legit career out of Hip-Hop. In other countries, Hip-Hop had been mainstream for quite a while, but I can finally see that Thailand is stepping in that direction as well.
Oui: I really believe that Thailand will evolve into a full-scale Hip-Hop breeding ground. The industry will start to segment into different styles of Hip-Hop like gangster-style, party-style, or even intelligent Hip-Hop that uses beautiful and meaningful rhyme. It will continue to grow and we are on the right path.
How would you like to see the Hip-Hop industry in Thailand grow?
Oui: If you ask me…it’s really up to your taste actually. For me, I like rappers who are smart with their words. If you rap about nonsense then it should be entertaining, but if you rap about a serious topic, the listeners should be able to connect with you while finding inspiration and positive energy. I believe artistry is all about raising spirit and mind of the people, not dragging it down.
Now that we’ve got to know NAINA a little better, the next thing that we’d all like to know is about his next live performance. Fresh off the competition, there’s no word on where he’ll be putting on a show next. When asked about it, NAINA responded with…
NAINA: I don’t have any plans on that yet, not that I know of. But if I do have one in the future, be sure to drop by! (smile)
If you want to find out more about NAINA, be sure to follow him through his official social media channels below for the latest news and updates.