By Mahjabin Bhabna and Usraat Fahmidah
When I first got into BTS sometime around in late 2020, the first person to catch my attention was RM aka Kim Namjoon. The reason why I felt that instant pull towards him was because we had a lot of things in common. Taking walks in the park, visiting museums, riding your bicycle on a sunny day, curling up on the couch with a book and not having a driver’s license – these are the common traits we shared. But other than all of this, Kim Namjoon has my respect. While he manages to maintain a fairly mundane life that he seems to enjoy in his own way, he also shoulders the responsibility of being the leader of the biggest musical act in the world right now – BTS.
Kim Namjoon has had his iconic leadership moments that if it came to it, the whole world would unanimously vote him as our president. But part of that mammoth responsibility comes with a price. For Kim Namjoon, it was the steep price of his whole 20s being heavily documented as an idol – his wins and setbacks both publicly blazoned all over the media. This is why you cannot help but admire him for having balanced all of that effortlessly for years.
Indigo by RM is the artist’s first album following his mixtapes “RM” and “mono.” While “RM” and “mono” were mere brief reflections, Indigo is a finished archive. You could call the album a fully developed representation of his artistic vision as he enters his 30s. You could say, Indigo is to treasure his 20s in his own timeless way.
So, he meticulously picks the color indigo which is said to be the color of wisdom and intuition. It represents an inner awareness and spirituality. This is pretty much what RM, the leader of BTS tried to convey in his new album.
“I wanna be a human
’Fore I do some art
It’s a cruel world
But there’s gon’ be my part”
He sings in a raspy voice in his first track in Indigo – “Yun” with Erykah Badu. In this hip-hop track, RM expresses his thoughts on the interconnectedness of beauty, art, and humane life. “I wanna be a human ’fore I do some art” he expresses his desire to be a human before he becomes an artist. “Cuz true beauty is a true sadness”he realizes that beauty and sadness go hand in hand. But we seem to understand that he realizes his integral purpose as a human and artist: “It’s a cruel world, But there’s gon’ be my part”
“F*** the trendsetter.” RM sings in Yun, but makes a comeback in “Still Life” with Anderson .Paak, rapping: “Trendsetters? I’m a friend, better” “My life is on constant display” – RM raps about being in the spotlight all his life in the second track titled “Still Life” with Anderson Paak. With a funky beat and Anderson Paak’s groovy music, RM expresses the laidback attitude he has developed after being years in the spotlight. “I’m living well unlike you wished for it to be huh” So, how does RM move forward with his life? The answer is in the lyrics: “Sh*t happens in life” “Bro, you just gotta do you thing, Obvious, f*** it, let’s go.”
The third track of the album, “All day,” is an ambitious one for RM as he collaborates with Tablo of EPIK HIGH – one of his biggest musical inspirations. He is fierce with this one. It doesn’t feel like a personal struggle he shares but something we all struggle with on some level. “Uh yeah I don’t know me huh, F*** the AI/ f*** the algorithm, I need to think/ f*** all the rhythm.”
“Why can’t I remember?/ My friends are sad” With RM and Kim Sawol’s “Forg_tful,” nostalgia hits too close to home. The guitar chords are kept simple. Just raw vocals beautifully singing what’s it like slowly having adulting take the joy out of our life. And you start to reminisce the only good days you remember – your childhood. “I keep forgetting the me of yesterday, I’m only twenty-six, Why can’t you remember?” But even that fades away slowly as life catches up with you.
“Closer” is definitely the most underrated song in the album. Featuring Paul Blanco and Mahalia, the song sounds surprisingly melodious blending RM, Mahalia, and Paul Blanco’s distinctive singing voices into one and somehow it all comes together neatly into pop song. This is definitely my favorite song on the album. And the artist seems to indicate a very personal relationship through this song which leaves us to speculate how his life could have been.
“Change pt.2” is a mixture of hip hop, rap, and pop that talks about how everything changes. While growing up we go through a lot of change and we have to accept it. RM shares about that change we all go through: “Things change, people change, everything change. Love change, friends change, everyone change. It is no strange, That’s the world’s shape.” We all can relate to this, because at some point in our life we all have felt this.
The next song on the album is “Lonely.” As the title suggests, “Lonely” describes the innate feeling of loneliness. Even though we are surrounded by people, we can feel lonely sometimes. The feeling can slowly creep up on us when we are surrounded by people, leaving us to feel alone even in a crowd. And RM doesn’t shy away from sharing this feeling. “I’m ****** lonely/ I’m alone on this island/ So ***** lonely/ Somebody call me.” He bluntly states that stardom can be lonely too.
As BTS’ popularity soars, hectic is a word to describe their life. But how does RM make sense of all of this? “Yesterday was a hectic/ There was nothin’ romantic.” He gets real and shares there’s nothing to romanticize even if they are breaking a music record every other day and reaching new heights in the song “Hectic.”
“If I can just find a reason, to keep this endless chasin” – RM and Colde rap about the endless hustling. We cannot help but feel every bit of the lyrics with RM and dream of alternatives as our hectic life gets to us: “If I could only imagine/ Just one another heaven.”
“Wildflower” is the title song of the album featuring Youjeen of the band ‘Cherry Filter’. This song has elements of rock and rap which points out the thoughts of wondering, memories, and all the things that felt so important once but not anymore. “No name that’s what I have/ no shame I’m on my grave” RM starts out with a mesmerizing melody. Youjeen’s brilliant vocal is a beautiful addition on top of RM’s raspy rap voice. RM expresses how his younger self was eager, reckless, and wanted more. “Now I can’t remember what I wanted so badly,” he raps – “Not even knowing my own sadness/ Even making friends with the shadows.” At onepoint his desires seemed to have made him lose sight of himself that he didn’t want those desires anymore. “Please take my desire away from me/ No matter what it takes/ Oh, let me be myself.” He echoes the conflict he had with his dreams and ambitions, but eventually finding his ground. Before, he was chasing everything recklessly, but now he feels he has figured out things a bit more than before.
The last track of the album is “No 2” with Park Ji-yoon. “Yes, you are not so special, I won’t cry at these words anymore.” The artist’s growth and maturity over the years seeps through the lyrics. But what makes this song stand out is the somber yet playful tune of the music.
“A child who was just hungry for recognition, now a mind that would suit the elderly better.” The way he improved himself, the way he grew as a person has been remarkable and now he can say “I’ve only learned one thing so far, I’ll be forever me.” To be where he is now he had to go through a lot and “All The Accidents That I Believed Were Inevitable, All Those Nights That Were As Long As Eternity … You Did Your Best.” He understands that he did his best.
To end the album with this song, RM seems to send out a message. He ends the emotional journey of the album with this song neatly as if to say he feels satisfied and fulfilled with this chapter of his life. “No lookin’ back/ You will protect yourself now.”
Indigo undoubtedly combines all of RM’s artistic capabilities – music production, singing, rapping, and lyrical prowess. He pours everything out into this album and the result is a finely produced album with glorious collaborations that is wholly relatable to its listeners. Like always, RM delivers with his music. He has shown his purposefulness as an artist with this album, starting with the concept and boiling down to the packaging of the album. We truly get an idea of the artistic vision of RM, and the kind of person he has become as he steps into his 30s. It’s his own way of archiving his 20s away from the noise and chaos.
RM – the artist who believes in the philosophy of timelessness when it comes to creating art – truly leaves his mark as one of the most original, artistic and ingenious artists of our time with Indigo.
Photo: Sandía ( @taechest on Twitter)