RM dives into his struggles with affirming album ‘Indigo’


Photo from Wikipedia

Digital cover of RM’s Indigo.

Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer

It is always admirable when musical artists open up about their struggles, risking losing the admiration of some to affirm those who might have felt alone. Kim Nam-joon, better known by his stage name RM, is an artist well-known for his sincerity, and he continued to display his incredible skill with his first official studio album Indigo, which was released on Dec. 2.

RM is known for being a talented rapper, songwriter, producer, and, of course, leader—specifically, the leader of BTS, which is arguably the world’s most popular contemporary music group. However, RM has often felt constricted by this label. After BTS announced a temporary suspension of group activities in June of this year, RM opened up about how he felt he had lost his sense of musical direction and wanted to explore his own style and identity outside of BTS.

During a July live stream on the community platform Weverse, RM described the album as “[his] diary and archive for 2019 to ’22.” Each song shows different aspects of his journey over the past years, with genres ranging from lively city pop to mellow, subdued ballads. All but two of the ten tracks are collaborations with other artists, emphasizing the rapport RM has with others in the music industry.

Indigo’s message is perfectly encapsulated by its outstanding lead single, “Wild Flower.” RM expresses how his fame has made him lose sight of his true self, singing, “When’s this wretched mask finally going to come off?/Yeah, me no hero, me no villain/I’m barely anything.” Rock singer Youjeen’s powerful vocals and the dramatic sweeping instrumental make this track truly unforgettable.

The opening track “Yun,” featuring Erykah Badu, is notable not just for its sound, but its sheer artistry. It begins and ends with a sample of the voice of Yun Hyong Keun, RM’s favorite artist, speaking on humans’ natural inclination “to seek truth, goodness, and beauty.” RM raps in a thoughtful, reflective tone about the importance of putting heart & soul into your art, and, as Yun would say, “[being] human first.”

Another song, the energetic “Hectic,” centers around trying to escape the detached feeling that results from following the same busy routine every day. It takes on a polished, mainstream pop sound and immediately distinguishes itself with its addictive groove and dance-worthy beat. RM and featuring artist Colde’s contrasting tones unite to deliver the emotions of the song such that it feels like they’re telling a story.

The melancholy, pop-influenced “Lonely” is my favorite track of this album. It is lyrically very raw but sounds neat and put-together thanks to the steady beat at its centerpiece, accompanying RM’s heartfelt tone as he describes times during his career when he felt lost and homesick in unfamiliar territory.

Along with its high points, Indigo also has spots where there is room for improvement. The offbeat “Change pt.2,” with a gripping introduction and glitchy electronic instrumental, had the potential to become a standout against the more understated nature of the other tracks. However, its mid-song stylistic shift to a more subtle sound does not have time to sink in with the song’s short duration, and feels jarring.

The rest of the album’s songs provide a variety of moods, ranging from confident and positive to serene and nostalgic, with each one putting a spotlight on a different side of RM and his story. Each track gives him the opportunity to show off his diverse skill sets, and the result is superb.

Overall, despite a few missteps, Indigo does not disappoint at all. It is filled with all the profundity and reflection one would expect from an artist like RM, who is known for getting honest with listeners. The assortment of artists and styles makes it both entertaining and eye-opening. I recommend this album to anybody who appreciates the deeper meaning artists put into their work and would like a captivating, refreshing listen.