BTS leader RM’s self-reflection in his 30s
Ten years is not the only time to change. People change, too. Just as grass, trees, mountains, and waterways change over time, people’s values, thoughts, and habits also change over time.
BTS leader RM’s first official solo album is a work that exhibits such a human change. The album “Indigo” is a work in which a boy who dreamed of becoming a poet and a rapper at the same time as a teenager realizes his dream when he is in his 20s, and then returns to “I” at the age of nine to release his feelings. In other words, the story of what I want to be, the story of liberating “me trapped in me,” is reflected in this album. I can’t believe I’m locking myself up. In Balzac’s expression, it may be the cruelest of misfortunes. The album, which chose “Indigo,” a lonely and lonely feeling, is therefore RM’s musical self-portrait and autobiography, a leg rest that quietly proceeds after a long walk, and a desperate reflection of the self that takes out one by one. RM called it the last archive in his 20s.
The overall sentiments of rest and rumination are longing and loneliness (“Closer”), self-help and cynicism (“Lonely”). That’s why this work, which can be defined as the whining of a superstar facing his “life that is bloated beyond his means,” began with the lyrics “F**k the trendsetter.” It is a track featured by Neo Sol magnate Erica Badu, who has been evaluated for combining the sound of Atlive Cold Quest and De La Soul with the vocals of Lorin Hill and Mary J. Blize, which marks the beginning of the new work with a neat and thick boom-bab beat, and the title seems to have been written by Yoon Hyung-geun, an artist who captivated RM’s artistic sensibility since four years ago. From Georges Seurra, Monet, and Picasso, RM’s interest in visual art has finally been reborn as a poem in the world of Yoon’s work, which emphasizes “the essence of man, the truth and the innocent world of human purpose.” The “texture I want to convey abstractly” that RM, who calls the act of hanging artworks at home a “spiritual experience,” felt while talking to the work he breathes. The album jacket, which features Yun Hyeong-geun’s work on the wall and RM himself seems to have collapsed, is therefore a visual representation of the song “Yun.”
In the next song “Still Life,” which depicts one’s situation that feels like being displayed in a canvas frame with the contradictory expression of “Still Life,” the featuring was applied at an 80 percent rate out of 10 songs. Although the names of RM’s favorite Kanye West, childhood hero Nas, and Eminem are not visible, singer-songwriter and rapper/producer Anderson Pack and Korean-Canadian rapper Paul Blanco lent their talents for RM. I’d like to pay attention to the rest of the Korean participants, who can be named considering RM’s usual musical tendencies, but indie folk musician Kim Sa-wol, cherry-filter vocalist Cho Yoo-jin, and Park Ji-yoon, who has been reborn as a singer-songwriter, seem to be comparable to Nell in the past mixtape. At the same time, this participation is also an indirect proof that RM’s music soil is not dry and fertile, showing how much he usually lives with his ears open to non-mainstream music.
“Forgetfulness,” which walks with Kim Sa-wol as a duo on acoustic guitar and whistling accompaniment, conveys RM’s consistent feelings toward childhood in a natural minimal arrangement, just “Yun.” There is no thrilling shot or flashing hook, but his choice to deliver the message with a calm song instead of a fancy technical rap in a concept album that looks at himself and rescues him seems quite appropriate. This calm self-reflection extends to the Wild Flower Play, borrowed from Cho Yu-jin’s excellent expression, which RM praised as the “No. 1 rock star and legend,” and the tired rap of RM, which is not me, can be heard as an “ultra-A-class international-level vocalist” (Shin Hae-chul did in his lifetime).
“No.2,” the last song of the album and the last featured song by a Korean female musician, has a melody and sound texture tilted toward indie pop that Park Ji-yoon has pursued so far that it feels like RM participated in Park Ji-yoon’s song. In the song, where excessive self-consciousness and balanced self coexist, RM relaxed and approached Park Ji-yoon to sing or rap separately to unravel the theme of the song, “I won’t look back.” Park Ji-yoon, who has been reborn as a musical adult through bone-cutting efforts after “adult ceremony” in the past, secured a sense of camaraderie between RM, who spent most of his 20s under the yoke of glory and pressure, giving the ending song “Yun” as meaningful.
As someone pointed out, the core of “Indigo” is hip-hop, but RM has sophisticatedly added Neo Sol, Folk, R&B, Electronic, and Rock to it. Of course, the synth pop of “Hectic,” which told the dark blue solitude emitted by the city’s night, is one of the factors. They then discuss the “value of silence in the society of the loud,” and RM, who said, “My identity is composition,” painfully embraces the burden of representing the will of others and the struggle to escape from the fixed role of BTS. For some people, it may be disparaged as a full performance that is popular and happy. However, as Rolling Stone pointed out, “Indigo” is definitely a “project with reflection on alienation” and “heartbreaking self-reflection on the limitations of huge fame” (The Guardian) just like that of 2018 mixtape “mono.” And RM’s writing became a “superpower” (Rollingstone), which teleported the self-reliance of pursuing success to the termination of self-discovery. Maybe RM was happy to finish this work and fly away. It would have been a relief. Maybe I cried my eyes out. This is because he painted his own liberated space on another canvas beyond Yoon Hyung-geun’s painting, which looks like a bar.