MONSTA X were formed through the 2014 Mnet reality TV series NO.MERCY. During the programme, 13 trainees from the agency Starship Entertainment were put through a series of challenges and elimination rounds, before the final lineup was decided.
Unlike the other 12 trainees who appeared on NO.MERCY, I.M was added to the show only eight episodes after it began airing and following the eliminations of several fellow contestants. At the time, the singer-rapper had reportedly received hate from some viewers, who believed that his late addition to the series was unfair.
“I joined that programme in the middle – not even the middle, at the end of the programme,” I.M recalled during an interview with Wired. “Lots of people hated me.” The rest of the group quickly responded in opposition, with member Minhyuk repeating the question and insisted that it was not malicious: “No hate!”
“No hate? Well, whatever. This is my result, I am in MONSTA X,” I.M added. “Whatever. I just hopped on that programme and fucking passed.”
MONSTA X recently made their first Korean comeback of 2021 with their ninth mini-album ‘One Of A Kind’, following ‘Fatal Love’ in 2020. ‘One Of A Kind’ features title track ‘Gambler’, alongside a Korean version of Japanese-language single ‘Livin’ It Up’.
I.M also made his solo debut in February with the mini-album ‘Duality’. It received a three-star review from NME’s Ruby C, who said that the singer “succeeds in defining and redefining the theme of duality for himself”, however noted that there is “still much more room for his musicality to grow”.