If there’s one thing BTS’ leader, RM, is gonna do it’s be honest with his audience. RM, AKA Namjoon, has consistently told ARMY about the good times and the bad for almost a decade. So why would that change now? As he gets ready to enter his thirties (in Korean age) and BTS enters chapter two, Namjoon has captured our hearts with his openness and vulnerability all over again. RM’s debut album Indigo just dropped, and we’re blown away by his sincerity once more.
The entirety of Indigo feels so intimate and confessional despite its ever-changing direction. It’s as though Namjoon is whispering the words right into your ear! He reveals so much, in so many ways, about so many aspects of himself. We just feel honored to be able to listen. Indigo is an incredibly brave album, and we’re glad that RM seems to know that:
“The courage to throw off that hard glass shell that surrounded me blossomed at that moment”
RM for Spotify
Artistry Recognizes Artistry
One thing that speaks to RM’s artistry is the collaborations on Indigo. The album is rife with pioneering artists who don’t just work with any old pop star. The opening track is ‘Yun’ with Erykah Badu, an artist with one of the greatest musical legacies of all time.
‘Yun’ With Erykah Badu
The title ‘Yun’ comes from Yun Hyong-keun, a South Korean artist whose focus was the intersection of earth and water, shown through the combination of their colors in his art. Yun has clearly had a really profound impact on Namjoon. The artwork featured on Indigo’s cover is Yun’s, and clips of him speaking play throughout the track.
Even more obviously, Namjoon even speaks to him directly in the track; “You’re dead but to me you the f***in’ contemporary.” Combining this open admiration and Erykah’s iconic vocals and Indigo’s opener makes it clear how much respect RM has for art in all its forms.
‘Still Life’ With Anderson .Paak
Featuring the legend that is Anderson .Paak, we love the energy in this track. The title ‘Still Life’ has, as things often do in Namjoon’s eyes, a double meaning. In the art world, it’s the name of works about inanimate objects, like paintings of fruit bowls. But it also means to be still alive, life moves on, or to be still full of life. RM continues moving positively towards his goals, whether people like it or not.
There’s also a saying that people freeze at the age they become famous. Considering Indigo so heavily references RM’s decade of fame and the end of his twenties, the idea of ‘Still Life’ becomes even more potent.
“My life that continues to be on display, But I still keep on living, I’m still alive”
RM on ‘Still Life,’ translated by Doolsetbangtan
‘All Day’ with Tablo
If you, somehow, aren’t familiar with Tablo, that needs to change ASAP. He’s a member of Epik High, one of the pioneers of K-hip-hop, and someone that Namjoon has openly idolized for years. For RM to have Tablo on a track on his debut album feels like such a gift, and that’s before you even hear how good the song is.
This is only possible when someone has worked tirelessly to reach the level where quality is a given. Likewise, he didn’t worry at all about what I would deliver. #ALLDAY #RM #TABLO #INDIGO 💎 https://t.co/qJ72nPv6KU
— tablo (@blobyblo) November 28, 2022
‘Forg_tful’ with Kim Sawol
It’s not often that we get to hear RM sing, but luckily we get that gift in ‘Forg_tful.’ We love the title of this track so much; BTS is so good at wordplay. Just think of ‘Dis-ease’ from the 2020 album BE. Collaborator Kim Sawol is an enormously talented folk singer-songwriter from Daegu. The sweetness in her vocals adds a new dimension to not only this track but to the whole album.
‘Closer’ with Paul Blanco and Mahalia and ‘Change pt.2’
Indigo is so beautifully structured. The album has a really impressive ebb and flow to it, kind of like ocean waves, which is a testament to Namjoon’s ability to fully commit to a concept.
“Indigo refers to moving away from the abyss and toward the light transmitted through water. As we rise above the water, we move forward. Now, it’s time for me to chase after my dreams and find my true self.”
RM for Spotify
A rapper and a poet at his core, the majority of Indigo is firmly planted within the hip-hop and R&B genres. Naturally, though, RM cannot be limited. The second half of ‘Closer’ is, in fact, so guitar heavy that we’d barely hesitate to call it a rock song. ‘Closer’ then transitions into ‘Change pt.2,’ which begins as an industrial, borderline Nine Inch Nails-Esque track (trust us on this) before mellowing out. This push and pull is the exact kind of oceanic energy that we’re talking about!
Some of the most ripely painful songs are written by our favorite artists whilst they are in hotel rooms. Now, we can add Namjoon’s ‘Lonely’ to that list. In terms of the production, this is one of the most fun and bright moments on the album, but lyrically, he sounds completely downtrodden. Even though we might not spend our time in hotel rooms on tour, we feel like anyone around RM’s age, us included, can relate to the struggle of closeness vs. solitude in the social media age.
‘Hectic’ With Colde
‘Hectic’ might seem like an odd song title for an album that’s so meticulously curated, but it actually makes perfect sense. The song details the unending push-and-pull that Namjoon has with the city of Seoul. From mixtape mono, the song ‘Seoul’ is one of the best examples of Joon’s songwriting style. The Korean and English wordplay, as well as the ebb and flow of his emotions, is quintessential RM! We’re so over the moon that he is exploring his relationship with Seoul further, and we think ‘Hectic’ is the perfect vessel for him to do so.
The production borders on psychedelic pop, and we love that he is adding yet another string to his bow! Get you a man who can do it all.
‘Wild Flower’ With youjeen
The title track ‘Wild Flower’ once again adds a new dimension to Indigo whilst simultaneously representing the full body of work. Cherry Filter’s youjeen adds rock vocals to an otherwise sublime and dreamy track. The lyrics to ‘Wild Flower’ are particularly poetic, as RM once again tries to make peace with the inner self and his persona (*cough cough*), as well as his desire to create art and his desire for a quieter life.
‘No.2’ With parkjiyoon
BTS’ leader choosing to close his debut album with the lyric “You’ll protect yourself from now on” has hit ARMY right in the gut. BTS and ARMY have a very protective relationship towards each other, and during this period of change within the band, it hits extra hard. ‘No.2’ feels like RM coming up for air after being underwater. parkjiyoon delivers crystal-clear pop vocals, and the song feels full of liberation as Namjoon makes peace with the nuance and contradictions within himself and his life. He’s finally looking up at the sky after staring down at the ocean for so long.
With Indigo, RM shows us so many different facets of his personality, without any of them ever seeming less honest than the last. We couldn’t be more grateful that BTS’ leader has gifted ARMY with this album.
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