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RM - INDIGO: An insight into the diary of Kim Namjoon

Updated: Mar 25

By Mulenga Mumba


Disclaimer: Listening to this album may result in tears and well needed introspection. Listener discretion is advised.


(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


December 2nd, 2022 saw the release of RM’s debut studio album. It’s also his first full length body of work since Mono (2nd mixtape, 2018). This album documents RM's twenties and is a “candid introduction of who RM truly is.” (credit: BIGHIT MUSIC). This album is composed of 10 tracks with accompanying artworks for each track. It really invites us into his mind as he traverses the various ups and downs he has experienced throughout his life so far.


In his message on WEVERSE (image below), RM asked us to listen to Indigo in order so that’s what we’re going to do.


(Image credit: WEVERSE)


Hang on to your seats cause we’re in for a ride.




(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


Off the bat, ERYKAH BADU. That's it. That’s the review.

I’m kidding. But seriously, the fact that THE Erykah Badu features on the track is absolutely glorious. Lending her vocals to the pre-chorus of this track really hits home the weight of this track in general.


Titled ‘Yun’ after artist Yun Hyunggeun, the first track of the album seems to be about the conflict between RM wanting to pursue his dream (Poetry and Writing) vs the life that everyone else seems to want him to live. In the track, he talks about some of the things he has heard from people. Things like


And how because of that, he has struggled to bring that dream into the light and has kept it in the shadows (I feel you fam). In the track, RM also says:

Emphasising how rather than focusing on the product, he believes being human first leads to very meaningful art.

We also hear a sample at the beginning and at the end of the track from artist Yun Hyunggeun who believed that ‘living in your truth is where humanity’s beauty truly lies. Born during the time when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, Yun Hyunggeun’s life was chaotic and filled with turmoil way into his late years ultimately influencing his art style. Predominantly using blue and umber in his artwork, Yun considered his work more like a diary, recording each day. In this track and throughout the album, we get to see just how deeply inspired RM is by Yun Hyunggeun’s art and philosophy.

Note: One of Yun Hyungeun’s art pieces can also be seen hanging on the wall behind RM, in the album artwork as well.


(Video credit: HYBE LABELS)

(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


This is where I start to crack. This track really hit home. Starting with a calm soothing melody, before transitioning into an upbeat melody, Still Life talks about his awareness of being in the limelight. As an artist and as a member of BTS, he is always being on a pedestal and always being watched. Inspired by the Still Life art movement, this track expresses how RM considers himself a Still Life art piece. Still Life works of art that show inanimate objects from the natural or man-made world, i.e. fruit, baskets, cups, dead game, etc. It depicts things that are “still” and don't move (Getty Museum).

However, through RM’s interpretation, he sees this art style as one that keeps the object alive on the canvas. Even though the original object may be long gone, it is kept alive in paint, moving forward in time.

Sometimes with the regrets of the past and the uncertainty of the future, it’s easy to get stuck not knowing where to go or what to do. This song reminded me that regardless of what’s going on, as long as you keep moving you’ll find a way.

The little interlude conversation between Paak and RM was also a lovely addition to the track; it made me smile mid-tears which I really appreciated (Was I sobbing quietly in hiding? Nope. Maybe. You can’t be crying all loud like that in an ethnic household, you know). If any one has “Errday is my day one, brother” on a T-shirt or on something like a mug (I drink a lot of tea), let me know.


RM, Tablo


(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


First things first, listening to the intro, I didn’t expect the track to go the way it went (That bass came out of nowhere). Featuring Grandpa Tablo (I call him that with affection), this track starts to delve into challenging the status quo and finding what makes you who you are - and I'm here for it. Here, RM brings up his dream of writing poetry and his concerns about how hard it is to express individuality in this age of social media and countless algorithms. Digging all day trying to find yourself in a collection of identities.


In verse 2, Tablo also brings up how, as a society, most of us are still in place, in neutral and unable to do anything. When Tablo says



I really felt that. Feeling stuck because of fear and unable to move forward. Being worried about how others will see you, what others will think if you do this, worrying about trying to fit in and not doing things you want to do because of fear of judgement, etc. Grandpa Tablo tells us, ‘So what?’,


And he’s right. So many dreams and goals have ended before they’ve even begun because of fear, and honestly, this is some advice that I desperately needed to hear. Regardless of the haters, do you, keep dreaming and keep believing.


Honorary mention to this banger of a line ‘We got DYNAMITE in our DNA’. Grandpa Tablo giving us a throwback. We love to see it.



(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


Now tell me why this track just described my life verbatim (had to pause and seriously contemplate my life for real). After everything that has happened and is still happening in the world right now, it’s no surprise that this song (this album in general) resonates with so many of us.


With the melodic acoustic guitar playing throughout the track and the vocals of RM and Kim Sawol melding beautifully, this track looks at the inevitable effects of all that inner turmoil and confusion expressed in the tracks before. After struggling between regretting the past and worrying about the future, while still trying to fit into the present, we have now reached the burnout stage.


The feeling of monotony in daily life causing days to merge into each other and losing track of what day it is, what time it is, if you've eaten, etc.


I think the line that sticks out the most to me in this track is this one:



It really speaks to how we are all just going through the motions of life, numb to everything and just doing things not because we enjoy them, are passionate about them or find them fulfilling but rather because it is what we have to do. I feel like this might also be how RM felt. Gradually having to produce music that matched the demand rather than music that spoke to him personally in an age where streaming counts massively in the world of artists. I really hope that with this album, a bit of that burden has been released.

Note: I would like to welcome this song to the NaNaNa hall of fame.


(Image credit:BIGHIT MUSIC)


Firstly, we have our own talented British gyal, Mahalia, on the track (you can tell I'm gassed). I would just like to say, I'm glad that a UK artist is finally involved in a track as an artist and not just as a songwriter (it’s not common in the Korean entertainment industry). Do you hear how lush her vocals are? Also, the track itself, I feel, would do very well on the British airwaves (it has that vibe, you know).


Featuring Mahalia and Paul Blanco, this track expresses deeply loving someone but being unable to get close enough to them. It’s a nice calm track that is reminiscent of a love song.

In my opinion, this song can be interpreted in two ways. Number 1: a love song for someone else - You’re in a relationship with someone but no matter how close you are, you still don’t feel close enough. And number 2: a love song to yourself - You don’t feel close enough to yourself as a person and are expressing a desire to be close to everything that makes you, YOU.


I know this interpretation is a bit of a stretch but I'm a hopeless romantic like that. It may very well be a classic love song.


RM

(Image credit:BIGHIT MUSIC)


This track really shook me a bit. Firstly, just focusing on the backing track, it’s very rough and chaotic sounding (in a good way) and has what sort of feels like an up and down vibe. Listening to this track gave me a roller coaster of emotions and definitely feels like RM is venting out frustrations in the first half of the song before settling on acceptance in the latter half. This track I feel really matches the lyrics very well.

Listening to the first half of the song, the backing track is very rough and hard. Accompanied by the lyrics above, it definitely has a tinge of feeling frustration, maybe anger, towards something and someone (possibly himself). Paired with the lyrics

It definitely seems like RM is expressing a deep sense of anger, sorrow, betrayal and even loneliness at possibly himself and who he used to be.

The transition to a more melodic sound in the second chorus is where I feel RM starts to accept that everything changes. Even though a deep grief at this fact remains, he has accepted that nothing in this world stays the same. I like how even within the track itself, we hear changes in melody, instrument composition, etc. Ultimately, everything changes and that’s just how the world works.

This is a painfully, heart-wrenchingly honest song - One of my friends Marianna. I couldn’t agree more.

Note: This song is the shortest on the album. (Very fitting of a song in which RM just lets his raw thoughts and feelings out).

RM

(Image credit:BIGHIT MUSIC)


With a deceptively bright backing track, Lonely expresses the loneliness RM felt in that darn hotel. The first line of this track is literally I'm fuckin' lonely. It seems this track expresses one of the struggles RM feels when it comes to being a global superstar.

Travelling here and there and never really being in one place for too long can be quite lonesome. This track expresses the exhaustion of constantly being in unfamiliar cities, and meeting new people constantly, an endless loop of having to adjust and readjust.

I guess when you’re on the road so much, nowhere really feels like home. I’m sure at this point, even going home to visit family probably makes him feel more like a guest rather than being in a place where he can truly be himself.


Despite the upbeat track, the lyrics of this song really express a deep sorrow at the fact that RM himself feels like he has no place to belong to, no place to truly call home.


Note: RM wrote this song in Las Vegas (we all know the story by now, bless).


RM, Colde


(Image credit:BIGHIT MUSIC)


As soon as I heard the intro, I knew I would love this song. It has all the components I like. A deep bass in the back and a synth melody running throughout the whole track? Absolutely stunning. Add to that Colde’s smooth and soothing vocals and you have a major hit in my book. Colde’s particular vocal style really elevated the track.

Hectic, seems to speak to those who have endless chaos in their lives. Going to work, meeting friends, having a night out on the town, etc, and the regrets one inevitably has after such a chaotic day. With lyrics like:

You can say, this track expresses how most people in their twenties feel. Especially those that are out every night partying, alcohol and fun, and the inevitable feeling of regret the next morning when the hangover hits, head spinning and you can no longer tell up from down (I’m not talking from experience).

I think the outro really captures the essence of this song.

Note: ‘Hectic’ is one of RM’s favourite words.



(Video credit: HYBE LABELS)

(Image credit: BIGHIT MUSIC)


I honestly don’t know where to begin. This is so meaningful and really hits home. It’s a track that will probably resonate with a lot of people. As the title track of this album, this is a powerful track that not only holds RM’s emotions and feelings, but also those of DocsKim and YouJeen too.


According to DocsKim (writer and producer on WildFlower), this song encapsulates the struggle between fame and staying true to who you are. The fact that DocsKim was intending to retire from producing after this song but decided not to retire and continued producing through working on this track really speaks to how much this song really meant to everyone involved in its production (I almost teared listening to him talk about it in the ‘Indigo’ Album Magazine film).

On top of that, the power and emotion in YouJeen’s vocals in the chorus really emphasises how this track is a culmination of all the worries and doubts one may have, and just letting it all go.


This is a song for those who feel lost and maybe need something to pull them back from the despair of feeling like that.



(Image credit:BIGHIT MUSIC)


Featuring the graceful vocals of Park JiYoon, the last track on the album, No.2, closes a chapter on RM’s life so far and opens the page to a new chapter (Chapter No.2). It is about appreciating making it as far as you have come and not dwelling on the past.



As a message to himself and to the listeners of this track, this song sends the message that ‘your current version is the best one. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t look back. You have done your best through everything to get to where you are now’. Whatever happened in the past is in the past so no more regrets and no more looking back.


Final thoughts

This album is definitely a letter to not only himself, but to everyone who listens to it. Using his life and experiences over the last 4 years, RM has created what I can only call a record of his history. All the ups and all the downs, ultimately creating reflection on who he was, who he is and who he has yet to become.

Having listened to the album and seen how other people felt about it, I realised that a lot of people (including RM) have similar worries and concerns, and that we are all doing our best together. It gave me the realisation that no matter how lost and alone I may feel, I am in fact not alone. We’re all on this earth together.


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