When talking about our love for Shalala, Taeyong‘s solo debut, we don’t plan on keeping it lowkey. Being the first member of NCT to officially have a solo debut (not counting SM Stations and OSTs) can be something entirely nerve-wracking, but Taeyong managed to stay true both to himself as an artist and the brand he’s created over the years. With a mix of upbeat summer bops to heartfelt sentimental tracks, Shalala is something that deserves to be added to your playlist — regardless of which fandoms you’re in.
The Ultimate Neo
Being the face of the NCT brand is something that comes easily to Taeyong, both when part of group activities and by himself, and his solo debut is apparent to that. The rollout was something incredible. It featured photo teasers that are typical in K-pop album teasing, but Taeyong really let his creativity shine. Between a chose your own path style video teaser as well as one called “Definition of Taeyong” that showed the different aesthetics apparent in the music video. Everything that had to do with the pre-release promotions garnered praise from fans worldwide as they called Taeyong the ultimate neo.
Breaking the Metaverse
The music video for Shalala‘s title track of the same name was an explosion of color and storytelling. It depicts a lazy and inattentive god and a hacker character, the latter of which is played by Taeyong. The rapper also plays a number of different characters, from a yeti and a knight to a modern-age young adult and a businessman from the 1980s that are transported across their own universes or as the music video calls them, metaverses. Despite each character’s initial confusion, they end up thriving in the universe they’re thrust into. There’s the knight becoming an employee of the month in the ’80s and the Yeti winning first prize in bowling in 2023. The music video is interspersed with the song’s choreography, which is just as catchy as the song and embodies an effortless power with Taeyong’s own take on the macarena. Once the god realizes what hacker Taeyong does, he works to get the metaverses back to how they’re supposed to be. We don’t want to spoil the storyline, so you just need to watch the music video to know if he succeeds.
This Placе Where I Am With You
For those unfamiliar with the land of K-pop and the mini album, seven songs may not seem like much. In a world where most songs hover around the two and half minute mark, Shalala is a refreshing breath of air. The average length of all of the songs is 3 minutes and 21 seconds, something that is nearly unheard of. Taeyong, who is predominantly a rapper when it comes to group activities, doesn’t let himself be placed in a musical box. Shalala has something for everyone, despite what a person’s feelings towards hip-hop are. The sweet vocals of Red Velvet member Wendy are featured on ‘Move Mood Mode,’ a song that was actually teased by Taeyong on a live stream months prior. For those who like the sound of 90s hip-hop ‘Back to the Past’ is definitely up your alley, the smooth beats and the lazy flow can be synonymous with west-coast hip-hop. The song that really has us crying though, is ‘Ruby.’ Named after and inspired by Taeyong’s beloved late dog, the song is about pure love, similar to the one between pet and owner. It isn’t until the bridge where Taeyong sings in English “Is it okay If I stay by your side” that our tears really start flowing. The sincerity in his voice is something that brings us to tears and swiftly has become a fan favorite.
There’s one thing that we have known about Taeyong since he stepped into the spotlight at his debut in 2016, that man was made to make music. It had never been questioned, but his solo debut Shalala just solidified that in our minds. If you’re itching to add some new music to your playlist, do yourself a favor and check out Shalala.