According to RM, the band’s charismatic frontman, this is a serious and profound question. He takes a breather to collect his thoughts. BTS’ boundary-breaking, hegemony-overturning global triumph as an interconnected 21st century act is like a look into an alternate reality where the promise of the interconnected 21st century is truly being fulfilled.
All of BTS’ charisma, genre-defying, slick but personal music, and even their casually nontoxic, skin-care-intensive style of masculinity—everything about it feels like a visitation from a brighter, more hopeful timeline.. As far as R.M. is concerned, all of this contrasts with a darker environment all around them, particularly the horrible recent surge of anti-Asian violence and discrimination that has taken place around the globe.
As RM puts it, “We’re outliers, and we’ve had this great success in the American music market.” It took seven years for BTS’ first English-language single, “Dynamite,” to reach the top of the charts in 2020, and South Korean president Moon Jae-in was quick to congratulate the group. The Korean Wave is a term used to describe the nation’s long-standing devotion to its international cultural renown.
RM says, “Of course, there is no utopia.” “Everything has a good and a bad side to it. We believe that everything we do, and even our mere existence, contributes to the goal of eradicating xenophobia and other forms of prejudice. As a minority, we also hope that our existence might inspire and empower those in the minority. Although xenophobia is rife throughout the United States, there are still many people who are open-minded and want to learn about other people’s cultures. It’s significant that we’ve had success in the United States on our own.”
RM is currently wearing a white medical mask to protect a nearby translator, a black bucket hat, and a black Fear of God hoodie in an acoustically treated area at his label’s Seoul offices. Friends DVDs were the key to RM’s fluency in English, as he has repeatedly explained on American talk shows. But when things grow complicated, he uses the interpreter in a way that’s clear.
For RM, complexity is a plus. A passion for hip-hop, ignited by the Korean group Epik High, diverted him off his intended course toward an elite academic study. RM was the first artist signed by Bang Si-hyuk, the smart, serious, yet affable mogul-producer behind BTS’ record label, Big Hit Entertainment (now HYBE). According to Bang, “after recognising his musical talents and methods of thinking,” he felt an obligation to “assist RM grow to become a great artist.”
Big Hit was an underdog startup in a South Korean music industry dominated by three large companies when BTS debuted in 2013. (Bang had been a producer for one of them, JYP). A publicly traded organisation, HYBE has just acquired the American management company of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, thanks to BTS’ success. As Bang puts it, “We always establish goals and standards that may seem ideal, and we try our best to achieve there.” As far as I can tell, “It’s the same.”
After a lengthy audition and recruitment procedure, RM was paired with Suga and J-Hope, as well as singers Jung Kook (V), Jimin (J), and Jin. Many entertainment organisations wanted to sign Jung Kook, the group’s youngest member, but he ultimately chose Big Hit and BTS because of RM. “I thought RM was extremely awesome,” Jung Kook explains. “I had no idea what it was like to be a singer.” Because he was so good at the art form, I couldn’t help but admire him. And I believe that fate had something to do with it.”
When Bang first envisioned a pure hip-hop group, Suga and J-Hope were the first two members to join after RM. Other rapper trainees were once on board, but they were all ditched when BTS evolved into a more pop-influenced group. Even before he joined, much to his parents’ dismay, Suga, a fan of Epik High and American rappers like T.I., was already a competent rapper. Suga says, “They didn’t get rap music.” Because of what I was doing, it was only logical that they were opposed to it. Having something to prove pushed me to do my best, I believe. Suga opened up about his struggles with OCD, social anxiety, and depression on his haunting 2016 solo tune “The Last” (made under the moniker Agust D). A few days later, “I’m at home and feeling terrific,” he declares. “However, bad feelings like that pass. These feelings do not have to be kept a secret from anyone. They must be voiced and discussed. To communicate my feelings, “I’m always ready to do so.””
J-Hope is adored by the rest of the band due to his sunny demeanour. According to V and RM, “I think J-Hope can run for president of the world,” J-Hope is capable of doing so. J-Hope is a talented dancer and a remarkable rapper, both of which he honed while working as a trainee. “All the members were rappers when I initially started training,” he recalls. It was like going into a rave as you entered the house. Everybody was basically freestyling their rhymes together. “At first, it was a little difficult to adapt.”
A Big Hit scout noticed Jin’s good looks and decided to approach him on the street, where he was quickly signed on as an actor. He’s a talented musician, but he enjoys making light of the attention he receives because of his appearance. For the record, “everyone went crazy about how good-looking I was” on a recent South Korean TV variety show appearance, he claims. At the same time, he has a way of making you feel at ease. He admits, “I lack in many areas.” ‘Other members can dance immediately after learning a dance, but I can’t.'” As a result, I make an effort to work harder so that I am not a hindrance to the other team members.
The baritone of V, a jazz, classical, and Elvis Presley aficionado who showed up to support an auditioning buddy and wound up as a Big Hit trainee by chance. When BTS debuted in June 2013, he was a “secret member” who didn’t appear on camera in the countless vlogs and other clever online promotion. When asked if he understands it any better after all this time, “I don’t even know what to say,” he chuckles. Inquiringly, “Why did they do that?” Because it was a novel idea at the time. How did I not know?!” “We needed momentum to proclaim that the squad dubbed BTS was fully complete,” Bang ultimately responds. I figured it would be powerful to expose V in the end because he had so much charisma in both his looks and demeanour. Both the team’s overall image and each individual’s personal brand were enhanced by this method.”)
One of BTS’ most talented and accomplished performers, Jimin is a virtuoso dancer as well as an accomplished singer. He’s a perfectionist to the core. According to Jimin, who feels he owes BTS followers perfect performances, “dancing was my universe and my space.” Because of their dedication and for their sake, I should not make any blunders.
BTS members frequently shed a tear or two when speaking to their fans onstage. It all feeds into their natural rejection of conventional ideals of masculinity, which is seen in their comfort with makeup and rainbow hair colour. “The labels of what being masculine is, is an antiquated concept,” RM argues. To break it down is not our objective. If our efforts have a favourable effect, we’re grateful. Labels and limits have no place in the world we live in today.
He’s also a huge fan of his teammates. ‘We were quite different people who came together,’ Jimin explains. In the beginning, we disagreed a lot, but now that we’ve spent so much time together, I’ve come to appreciate the characteristics I used to dislike about the other members. We grew closer as a result of our time together and now feel like a family. There’s always a spot I can go back to, no matter where I travel. As a member of our group, I’ve come to believe this.”
His stage name Rap Monster was officially shortened to RM in 2017. RM carries himself with a level of solemnity that was maybe inconsistent with his earlier stage name. Nietzsche and abstract artist Kim Whan-ki are among the philosophers he references in interviews, and he donated over $85,000 to a museum organisation to help reproduce rare fine-art books on his 26th birthday in 2012. Hip-hop enthusiasts in the United States who aren’t familiar with BTS will be impressed by his and Suga’s use of double and triple meanings in their lyrics.
All members of the band have an interest in heavy themes, such as a Jungian psychology-based album cycle, the use of Pluto’s loss of full-planet status as a romantic metaphor on “134340,” and the use of labyrinthine storylines in their music videos. Between-song chit-chat is full of exceptional complexity, as are their lyrics. RM once told a packed crowd of fans, “We all have galaxies in our hearts. “Even my father, who is a full-time employee. Also, my mother, a real estate agent. As well as my younger sister. Even the strays on the street, such as dogs and cats. Even the rocks on the ground are…. There are, however, others who will never learn of this until they die. ” The song “Mikrokosmos,” from BTS’s upcoming 2019 album, is based on a similar topic.
BTS’ early hits, such as “No More Dream” and “N.O.,” dealt directly with the anxieties of South Korean youth, who were subjected to an onslaught of academic and professional pressures. Korean pop pioneer Seo Taiji and Boys tapped into similar themes in the early 1990s, relying on current American hip-hop and R&B, just like BTS would – Taiji’s first single from his group heavily samples Public Enemy. For BTS, the message of self-love, self-acceptance, and mental wellness has become so popular that they’ve been invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on two separate occasions—and that’s only the beginning.
Music and lyrics written by RM were not influenced by his or her experiences in the educational system in the United States or any other country. “At the time, we were all teenagers. We were able to express our thoughts and feelings regarding the irrationality of education, or the anxieties and uncertainties that many teenagers encounter. Youth not just in Korea, but also in the United States and other parts of the West, shared a common thought and emotion.
When BTS’ entire name was translated into English, it referred to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts,” implying that they would serve as guardians and friends to young people. Eventually, they said BTS stood for “Beyond the Scene.” “I didn’t want them to be false idols,” Bang once stated. In the end, “I wanted to design a BTS that could become a real buddy.”