Arts & Life, Music

‘Mono’ uncovers the singular sound of RM

RM, the South Korean rapper and leader of Korean group BTS released his second solo project, “Mono” on Monday. Unlike his previous mixtape “RM,” “Mono” gives listeners a more revealing, softer and raw version of himself.

RM or, Kim Namjoon, surprised fans when he tweeted a handwritten tracklist and release date for his self-proclaimed playlist on Oct. 20 which initially had fans scratching their heads — why a playlist versus a mixtape?

The evidence is found directly in the sound and atmosphere of the album: “Mono” is a carefully curated set of songs handpicked by RM himself. In the traditional sense, playlists are created to give something special and personalized to a person in a display of affection or love. This perfectly translates in “Mono.”

The playlist opens with “Tokyo,” an all-English song that begins with a sorrowful piano later accompanied by RM’s smooth, baritone vocals. “Do I miss myself, do I miss your face/ I don’t know, I don’t know.” Throughout the entirety of the song, RM speaks of the loneliness he feels not being with the person he wants to be with, and how he “can’t sleep” without being with them.

Isolation isn’t a new theme that RM has played with. His song “Reflection” from BTS’s second full album, “Wings” was dedicated to expressing feelings of loneliness and wanting to love himself entirely. The song ends in a melodic whistling, perhaps signaling thoughtfulness and meditation within himself.

“Seoul” is more upbeat and contrasts “Tokyo” in terms of sound and lyrics, where in “Tokyo” he sings, “Why do love and hate sound just the same to me,” and in “Seoul” he croons “If love and hate is the same word I love you so/ If love and hate is the same word I hate you so” as if the words represent an equalizer.

The song was produced by English electronic duo, Honne and members James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck definitely deliver a more dance inducing, vibe.

The second to last song “Everythingoes” exudes the aura of closure something that could be played in the final act of a rom-com when the main leads finally kiss and the scene cuts to black. With a constant synth rhythm and drum bass, RM and Korean indie rock band Nell repeat “everything everything everything goes” as he says “It will pass.”

Since RM is not one to shy away from topics of mental health and depression, this song makes perfect sense: This too shall pass. Nothing is permanent in life, it’s all a series of bumps in the road.

The final song in the playlist, “Forever Rain” was accompanied by an animated music video and while most songs in the album were most closely representative of the indie genre, “Forever Rain” seemed to fuse both indie and R&B into one cohesive track. The video shows an animated, faceless RM walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella. Around him, disfigured creatures walk slowly but with protection from the battering rain with umbrellas. “Let me breathe a bit slower/’Cause my life, my rap, all is too fast in my everyday.” BTS has garnered recent success internationally and to RM, it could be too fast, meaning he doesn’t know how to handle it all.

“Slow rap slow jam slow rain everything slow” is repeated throughout the song as he walks the lonely, black path while the beings around him walk on the outskirts. In the climax of the song, “Pour on me” is a statement that represents him embracing the uncertainty he is feeling about not only his life, but also his career.

While “RM” was aggressive and fast paced, “Mono” showed that RM is becoming a grown up version of his former self. Many fans speculated that mono meant monochrome, but it could be argued that it means singular — he found his true, individual self and is now ready to be heard as Namjoon.

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