Sorry I have been way to busy with work and studying to post lately but I just need to tell you all that…. Min Yoongi… YES, MIN YOONGI AKA SUGA FROM BTS has released HIS FIRST EVER MIXTAPE and I am here to tell you that it is 10 tracks of phenomenal Rap music. Trying to be impartial as a BTS stan is difficult – but if I put my impartial hat on, I can tell you that it is impressive. He has really opened himself up to the world this time to allow us to see the real Min Yoongi – he is letting us know who his is and along with that his talent has been allowed to shine. He is showing all the people who have put the BTS rappers down for being in an idol group, what he is really capable of. Yoongi is known for injecting passion and fire into his raps, for having a fast tongue and writing clever lyrics – and none of that is missing from this collection of songs. In fact he goes even harder than he does in BTS (this time he can swear and be pretty honest about some fairly serious stuff like depression) and he displays to the haters that he CAN be in an idol group and still make honest music like solo Korean Hip-Hop artists. He shows the world that he is no different to Zico, Jay Park and Mino – a rapper in an idol group who can be taken seriously and break out into the Hip-Hop world…. He can be Agust D when he’s not being Suga.
Intro ; Dt sugA (Feat. DJ Friz): A strong intro into the mixtape using the James Brown sample from ‘It’s A Mans World’. This is where Yoongi transforms from Suga to Agust D and leads straight into track 2. 10/10
Agust D: Following on from the intro using the same sample and beat, Yoongi spits bars without hesitation and with power. This is where he really establishes himself as Agust D – its hard to mistake considering the lyrics assert this as his name over and over again. He talks about the people that have put him down in the past for being an idol and ripped him for his pre-debut mixtape (excuse me… he was a kid – you guys were adults ripping into something that a teenager made, who do you think you are?) and how he has risen from the barriers that they have put around him and has made a success of himself regardless of what they think. ‘all ya fried rappers should be thankful I’m an idol, cause I’m busy I’m busy 24/7 uh uh don’t need no break’. Listen out for Verse 2 – those of you who haven’t heard Yoongi’s older rap style with BTS might be unfamiliar with the pacing in his bars, so prepare to be blown away. ‘I rap and y’all get turned on by ma tongue technology’ – ok throw water on me. 10/10
give it to me: The difference between this and Agust D is that it relies less on a bolshy backing sample and more on the beat and the punchy delivery of the lyrics. Yoongi talks about his success and how he couldn’t have predicted it except for the fact that he worked hard where other would just mess around – the recipe to failure. He speaks from a time where he was focusing a lot on success and fame and hating on others who oppressed him. Similar to his feelings in ‘Agust D’ where he is concerned about proving himself to his hyungs and others in the industry. As ever, Yoongi displays how he can interplay well between delivering his softly spoken raps like poetry and spitting his bars harshly over the drums. 8/10
skit: This is… a skit. You know – a lot of Hip-Hop artists inject this into their albums to illustrate an ongoing theme in the message of their album/mixtape – this is a conversation between Yoongi and his brother, introducing his mixtape and setting this apart from his work as Suga (no rating – because its a skit)
치리사일사팔 (724148): More of a Hip-Hop track than a Rap track and very welcome after the first two full-length tracks being predominantly Rap. There are hints of record scratching and dreamy synths synonymous with 90s West Coast Hip-Hop. If any of you have listened to any Jurassic 5, I’m certain you will know what I mean. It’s pretty clear the kind of music that influenced Yoongi in the making of the instrumental of this track, and I have to say this is probably one of my favourites on here. This is a tale of Yoongi’s past, about how he came to BigHit and the struggles he endured before debut. It is a reminder of his humble beginnings and the risk of losing it all. I think its so important that you look at the lyrics to this to really understand the tone of the rest of the mixtape ‘was I needy for success? No just needy for money’. The easy summer-time vibe of this track paints that type of nostalgic story-telling feeling that goes well with the meaning of this song. 10/10
140503 새벽에 (140503 at dawn): The intro to this actually made me laugh a bit – but aside from that this is a stripped down short rap song, which might sound familiar to some of you BTS fans? No? Yes? The beat is from the song ‘Rain’ from the ‘Dark & Wild’ album (best album). A sleepy, dreamy rap – some clues to why this is might lie in the title. But also the title indicates the kinds of thoughts you might have at dawn time – here Yoongi talks openly about the social phobia he has felt from the idol life ‘I pretend I’m not lonely, I pretend I’m not suffering. I pretend I’m okay for no reason, meaninglessly I pretend to be strong. Don’t come over the wall I’ve put up in front of myself. Don’t throw me off this island in this wide sea’. His lyrics are so profound – way to hit you right in the heart. 8/10
마지막 (The Last): Moving away from West Coast, there are some East Coast vibes in the first part of this song. You think that this is going to be another one of those rap songs…. but then the guitars and the drums start thrashing out and Yoongi is rasping the lyrics in to the microphone. The power in his delivery is felt immediately and its one of those songs which will stop you right in your tracks half-way through. This is a pretty heavy song – and I have to admit that I sat and cried for a while listening to it. I want you to look at this lyric and tell me you don’t feel the same. ‘the doctor asked me I said unhesitatingly that I’d been like that before. A word said like a habit, “I don’t give a s**t, I don’t give a f**k”, those words are all words I use to hide my weak self. The memories I want to erase of that day I had that concert. I was afraid of people, so I hid in the bathroom and stared at myself”. A lot of people forget that idols have feelings and that they feel the same kind of lack of self-worth as the rest of use and for him to talk about his feelings of depression and self-hatred and his personal struggles and so important. Then look at this: ‘If my misfortune is your happiness then I’ll be unhappy. If the target of your loathing is me then I’ll go up on the guillotine.’ Did he really go through a time where he sacrificed himself for us and his members. He talks about ‘Show Me The Money’ at the end (a Korean Hip-Hop show that artists, including idols, can go on) and I think his message here is so important – he didn’t want to go on it because a lot of them won’t know the hardships of being an idol, what he suffered, the hard work they’ve all put in and the adversity that they STILL have to face, and yet they still don’t see him as an equal. 10/10
Tony Montana (feat. Yankie): Tony Montana…. SCARFACE?! It makes sense when you look at the lyrics – ‘money wants to chase me, I hope I won’t become a monster who chases money’. What I love so much about this song is the transition in mood from ‘The Last’ to ‘Tony Montana’ – you have just been taken on a journey – you have just witnessed someone overcome something and entire a healthy mindset again where ‘my family, fans and team are first’. I like the addition of Yankie’s tone to the song – it adds an element of familiarity particularly for those who are new to Korean Hip-Hop. My only problem with this song is that some of Yoongi’s parts don’t really sound like him – I can’t tell if its over-production, if I were to hear it and not know it was Agust D… I wouldn’t know it was Agust D. 7/10
Interlude ; Dream, Reality: The kind of interlude that Yoongi knows how to write so well from all his time writing with BTS. A definite dream state piece of music that simply leads you on to the magical final song. 9/10
so far away (feat 수란 (SURAN)): The type of lyrical style that newer fans of BTS might be more used to – probably something that feels familiar and safe – the raspy, yet gentle tone in his voice over a softer dream-like, low-tempo track. Suran’s vocals in the chorus add a comforting element and innocence to end the mixtape on a mellower tone than the preceding tracks. I want you all to look up the lyrics to this and understand how the melody lends to the message in the song. Yoongi speaks here about the struggles you might have to not achieve a goal, or to be without a goal, and have the pressures and expectations weighing down all around you – but he speaks about how you can get over the hardships. ‘Dream, I will be there for your creation until the end of your life. Dream, wherever you might be (the world) it will be lenient. Dream, you will fully bloom after all the hardships. Dream, your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be’. A beautifully written, stunning song that is very synonymous with BTS’ HYYH era and really shows how much Yoongi has developed his writing style in recent years. And for those of you BTS nuts – did you know, Jungkook wrote the chorus along with Suran. 10/10
My Verdict: I want you to all listen to this mixtape and carefully consider the order of the tracklisting whilst you are listening. Read the lyrics. Listen to it in order. Only then will you be taken on a journey with Min Yoongi. You will walk with him through his struggles and he tells us a tale of a young boy who gave up his youth for his dream but the dream came with consequences that ate away at him. He is thankfully in a better place now but you need to listen to the whole mixtape from front to back to make it out on the other side.
Musically, as a BTS fan – we all know every era BTS have been through – we are familiar with the progression in styles and concepts and we know what kind of influences they have had over the years. Now I want you to consider this – Min Yoongi has taken over two years to write this – and he would have taken longer if it wasn’t for his big mouth accidentally telling a fan that he MIGHT release something in August. Think about the changes in musical direction BTS have taken over the years – now look at this mixtape. Whilst this is a journey through Yoongi’s troubled idol life, this mixtape is also a parallel through BTS’ musical journey – there are aspects from every era and it just shows how much Yoongi has developed and grown in his writing ability along with the other boys. He shows us here, a piece of everything his has learned in his five years with Bangtan and we know that as he continues to learn and grow – we can only expect greater things. This mixtape is an incredibly well-thought out collection of music and he should be very proud of it. If you aren’t afraid of rap, give it a listen.
P.S. Did you know that Yoongi wanted more time before he released this mixtape? Imagine what we could have got if he hadn’t ‘rushed’ – expect big things from him as Agust D in the future – I don’t think he will be able to hold back now.