Authors: Shreya Bose & Jonaki
In light of the stellar, record-shattering music they make as a group, one can overlook that each BTS member is an accomplished and talented artist in their own right. The songs here explore their individual visions, and reveal the extent of their creative calibre. Listen, revisit, be smitten.
RM – Change ft. Wale
BTS have always distinguished themselves by delving into musical themes that most idols wouldn’t touch. Nowhere is this more apparent than in group leader and rapper RM’s collaboration with Nigerian-American rapper Wale.
In Change, RM and Wale swap verses condemning the social ills of their respective countries. Wale rages against “alt-rights”, “racist police”, and declares “no faith in the government”. RM laments a world plagued by “mad teachers”, divided spaces” and those who “kill people with fingers on Twitter”. Swimming in old-school piano bars that punctuate a majestic, stomping beat, Change is emblematic of RM’s visionary musical prowess. He pens powerful words, raps admirably in English and makes crystal-clear the depth of his social, political, and cultural awareness.
Obviously, Change alludes to cross-cultural commonality : the world drives you down, no matter where you are. But at its heart, it portrays musical camaraderie between two people who have been knocked down, and keep getting back up.
Two hours before his 28th birthday, Jin released Abyss on BTS’s Soundcloud as well as the Bangtan TV Youtube channel. If his anthemic track, Epiphany from BTS’s Love Yourself album highlights his exemplary vocal control with its pop-rock glory, Abyss harnesses his vocal strengths as a natural tenor, with stable breath control and an impressive falsetto.
In his note to ARMY via Bangtan Blog, Jin explained how he had experienced “major burnout”, and battled feelings of inadequacy, questioning whether he deserved all the accolades that came with BTS topping Billboard Hot 100. His conversation with producer Bang Shi-Hyuk led him to collaborate with singer-songwriter Bumzu, and they co-wrote Abyss, with BTS leader RM contributing to the chorus.
The acoustic soundscape and the piano instrumental, teamed with Jin’s emotional and airy vocals when he sings, “With my breath held, I walk into my sea, I walk into it/ I face myself, [who is] crying beautifully and sorrowfully,” reveals the inner turmoil he is grappling with. Like Awake, Tonight and Moon(his other solo tracks), Abyss uses its rawness and vulnerability to attempt to comfort and heal.
Burn It – Suga/Agust D
Spitting majestic rhyme as Agust D, Suga embraces nihilism in his collaboration with MAX for his second mixtape. In brooding, beatific verse, he dives into his own demons and looks at the sides of himself he battles with as both artist and human:
“The me, who got to taste success, ey/What’s the difference from me back then? ey/Well, I don’t know, I’m not that much different, ey/ Let’s burn it, the me in the past“
But despite the turbulence of soul and mind, he erects a moment of positive assurance: “I hope that you won’t forget that giving up is also courage.” In true Suga fashion, he is deeply empathetic to the agony of internal conflict, and what it takes to resolve a dark night of the soul. To himself, and his listeners, he asserts that one has the choice to either decimate themselves or become a beacon, a “blazing sun” risen from the purge of one’s creative, spiritual, psychological dross.
The track is testament to Agust D’s self-awareness, the dexterity of his self-analysis, and the disarming vulnerability he brings to his art. With a chorus in MAX’s billowy voice, the song creates a sense of haunting. The sound denotes the sentiment, and the artist breaks himself to discover his own evolution.