Artist Spotlight: RM



RM, on stage, serenading 200 fans with the songs of his newest album, Indigo.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. RM, the leader of the hugest group BTS, seems to understand this truth all too well. On his debut solo album Indigo, the artist Kim Namjoon reclaims his pen and transcribes the feelings and emotions he’s recollected over the years of his 20s as he describes it as a “bleached recorded faded like old jeans;” a metaphor of this album posing as his last archive. 

Though he compares his life to a painting “on constant display” on the upbeat hip-hot track “Still Life”, he raps of dashing forward on his terms, liberating from the regrets of yesterday and the expectations of tomorrow. “Ya can’t lock me in the frame, I’m moving,” collaborator Anderson . Paak sings on the hook as his voice is accompanied by jazzy horn blasts. Created with this reinstated self-dedication, Indigo is a sonic portrait of RM’s adventurous inner world, the work of an artist who finds his voice by bringing together the influence that resonates within his soul. 

Longing for a time before the endless pressure of capitalist art-making, RM raps about reconnecting with his younger self on the album opener “Yun (with Eryka Badu).” “I wanna be human before I do some art,” he raps with determination. The songs hook is a reinterpretation of advice from the late South Korean painter Yun Hyong-Keun, whose voice was sampled for the track and is famously known for his paintings that combine Western abstraction with Korean traditional ink calligraphy. 

Similarly, RM incorporates his appreciation for Korean contemporary art with 90’s American golden-age hip-hop and R&B, paying respect to its innovations and creating a sonic sound meeting ground for the two legends to meet. The exhilarating combination is a reminder of RM’s earlier bibliography-building on BTS sound, which he has inferred to both Haruki Murakami and Jungian philosophy. 

Building upon the sense of frigid aloneness that permeated his 2018 mixtape mono, Indigo is a project packed with RM’s introspections on alienation. On the stadium rock-infused pop track, “Lonely,” RM sings about feeling trapped in hotel rooms, surrounded by “buildings that I don’t know,” while “Closer,” an atmospheric R&B song features him yearning late at night for someone who’s got him “rolling in the deep.” Meanwhile, “Change” has RM painfully recounting everything and everyone that’s changed around him as the production suddenly shifts from the jagged electronic beat to jazzy piano chords. 

RM valued collaboration on Indigo, inviting a host of artists he admired, from emerging Korean indie artists Colde and Kim Sawol, to musicians he grew up listening to like Tablo with whom he exchanged verses about forging your own path on “All Day.” The light acoustic guitar ballad “No.2” also notably features parkjiyoon, a veteran artist with a charming and original voice that RM believed would be a perfect feature for a track transcribing the meaning of never looking back; “Having an adult tell you not to look back is much more appealing than me saying that. It feels more persuasive.” RM states in his Indigo Album Magazine Film. 

Past, present, and future all meet on the standout of the album “Wild Flower,” an explosive rock track whose choruses find Youjeen, a charming rock singer pledging to “shine across the sky” like a “firework”. Through the alluding nature of the verses to RM’s endless stresses, he raps in exhaustion, using the symbol of an exploding blossom to represent his hope and paints the image of an open field as a place of reconnecting to his purpose and inner child. 

Towards the song’s end, RM recollects his earlier days as a boy whose “start was poetry / My one and only strength and dream that protected me so far.” He utilizes this opportunity as a reminder that his writing became his superpower, as millions around the globe have identified with his contemplative, resonating lyrics. Just as he’s found resilience and hope through the art that’s inspired him, Indigo is RM’s chance to do the same for his millions of listeners today.