Heavy is the head that wears the crown. RM, the leader of BTS, appears to know this fact all too properly. As the seven-member group skyrocketed to the world stage, the 28-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer discovered himself changing into not solely as his band’s de facto spokesperson as a consequence of his English fluency, but in addition an envoy for his house nation of South Korea and Asians throughout the diaspora. Though praised for his transferring speeches at the United Nations General Assembly (thrice!) and the White House, he’s spoken about the mounting pressures of having to symbolize the opinions of others.
“I debuted as a singer and occurred to take on a accountability in society, and even the world,” he mentioned in June, when the band introduced that they’d be pausing group promotions. “In a means, we would not even be certified for all these issues.”
On his debut solo album Indigo, the artist born Kim Namjoon reclaims his pen, lastly unrestricted from the obligation to be something however himself. Though he compares his life to a portray “on fixed show” on the upbeat hip-hop observe “Still Life,” he raps of dashing ahead on his personal phrases, liberated from the regrets of yesterday and expectations of tomorrow. “Ya can’t lock me in the body, I’m transferring,” collaborator Anderson .Paak sings in the hook, accompanied by jazzy horn blasts. Created with this reinstated self-commitment, Indigo is an adventurous sonic portrait of RM’s internal world, the work of an artist who finds his voice by bringing collectively the influences that resonate along with his soul.
Longing for a time earlier than the pressures of capitalist art-making, RM raps about getting again in contact along with his youthful self on album opener “Yun.” “I wanna be a human, earlier than I do some artwork,” he raps with dedication over a dusty boom-bap beat, after Erykah Badu gives her sagacious vocals about the significance of silence. The music’s hook is a reinterpretation of recommendation from the late South Korean painter Yun Hyong-keun, whose voice was sampled for the observe, and is understood for his monochrome work that mixed Korean conventional ink calligraphy with Western abstraction.
In related trend, on “Yun,” RM synthesizes his appreciation for Korean up to date artwork with Nineties American golden-age hip-hop and R&B, paying respect to their improvements and creating a sonic assembly floor for these two legends to satisfy. The thrilling mixture is a reminder of RM’s earlier bibliography-building on BTS songs, through which he has alluded to each Haruki Murakami and Jungian philosophy—creating a universe of references which have made their music so easy to get lost in.
Building upon the sense of frigid loneliness that pervaded his 2018 mixtape mono, Indigo is a undertaking that’s full of RM’s reflections on alienation. On the stadium rock-influenced pop observe “Lonely,” RM sings about being in trapped in resort rooms, surrounded by “buildings that I don’t know,” whereas “Closer,” an atmospheric R&B music that includes British singer-songwriter Mahalia and Korean-Canadian rapper Paul Blanco, sees him craving late at night time for somebody who’s received him “rolling in the deep.” Meanwhile, “Change” has RM bitterly recounting the whole lot and everybody that’s modified round him, as the manufacturing instantly shifts from a jagged digital beat to jazzy piano chords.
RM isn’t fully alone on Indigo, which invitations in a host of collaborators, from rising Korean indie artists like Colde and Kim Sawol, to musicians he grew up listening to, like Tablo of the hip-hop group Epik High, with whom he trades verses about forging your individual path on “All Day.” The mild acoustic guitar ballad “No. 2” additionally notably options parkjiyoon, singer of the 2000 Ok-pop hit “Adult Ceremony,” an artist who has gone on to launch music on her personal label after claiming her former company gave her a picture that introduced her debilitating public criticism. That expertise makes her phrases about not trying again all the extra poignant.
Past, current, and future all meet on Indigo standout “Wild Flower,” an explosive rock observe whose choruses discover Youjeen, the lead singer of beloved Korean rock band Cherry Filter, pledging to “shine throughout the sky” like a “flowerwork.” Though the verses allude to RM’s infinite anxieties—”When’s this wretched masks lastly going to return off,” he raps in exhaustion—he makes use of the image of an exploding blossom to symbolize his hope, and paints the picture of an open area as a place the place he can reconnect along with his goal and internal baby.
Toward the music’s finish, RM recollects his earliest days as a boy whose “begin was poetry / My one and solely energy and dream that protected me thus far.” It’s a reminder that his writing has turn into his superpower, as thousands and thousands round the world have recognized along with his introspective, deeply felt lyrics. Just as he’s discovered consolation and resilience by the artwork that’s impressed him, Indigo is RM’s likelihood to do the similar for his thousands and thousands of listeners right now.