RM's "mono." Cuts Deep To The Seoul

On his second solo mixtape release, BTS member, RM, muses on the soul of Seoul, his own soul, and oftentimes, it feels like he's staring straight into your own. BTS and RM gave virtually no warning for the 10/23 release of "mono." other than a tweet three days before which featured a handwritten track list.

Despite this lack of notice and the album being free, "mono." hit #1 on the iTunes charts in the US and at least 85 other countries. This mixtape release follows his first mixtape, RM, in 2015. It also comes after fellow BTS member J-Hope's mixtape, "Hope World" released earlier this year.

"mono." shows deviation from his earlier mixtape and solo work. "mono." is a reflective and introspective album that examines his own struggles with mental illness, fame, and the relationship he has with himself. Rather than being an album about his relationships with others, it serves as a therapeutic tryst through his soul and that of the listener.

With seven tracks, "mono." certainly isn't a long listen, but each song is packed with meaning and production choices that deserve to be considered individually.

1. "toyko"​​

Beginning with a fade in of the city streets of Toyko, the song ruminates on RM feeling lonely upon waking up in Toyko. Comparing his past self to Pinocchio, RM deals with feelings of feeling like a fraud, and despite acknowledging his realness, the melancholic tone of the song suggests this feeling never really left him. "toyko" is also one of the few songs on the mixtape completely in English.

2. "seoul (prod. HONNE)"

"seoul" is about RM's love/hate relationship with the city he calls home. However, the song goes deeper, as it often discusses Seoul, the capital of South Korea, but also his own soul. The chorus consists partially of the English phrases, "I love you, Seoul" and "I hate you, Seoul" which resonates deeply with BTS fans who are already familiar with BTS' Love Yourself Campaign and "Love Yourself" series of albums.

The song was also produced by English electronic duo Honne.

3. "moonchild"

My personal favorite song on the album. "moonchild" has a fantastical vibe from the very beginning and showcases that the usual rapper can sing, too. Despite the term "moonchild" having various definitions (including some dark ones), he doesn't stray from this darkness and encourages listeners to embrace the darkness within themselves. That darkness, however, is up to the listener to decide on what exactly that is.

4. "badbye"

"badbye" serves as two-minute, haunting interlude to the mixtape. From eAeon's (part of Korean indie band, MOT) haunting vocals, the ticking clock and static sounds in the intro, and the organ, makes this song is certified to creep you out. But, in the best way. The song seems to hint at a relationship gone wrong. However, the meaning of the lyrics, isn't the most important part of the song. The production truly shines through on this track as the song builds quickly in a very short amount of time.

5. "uhgood"

The title of "uhgood" is a phonetic translation of the original Korean, while the literal translation is "being off". The song touches on themes already seen in the mixtape such as feeling like a fraud and feeling lonely. However, the two translations of the song also hint at covering up how one feels for the sake of others. (Telling others you're "uh good" instead of saying you feel a little off). I think this is a sentiment that can resonate with just about everyone.

6. "everythingoes"

This song has a similar sentiment as the BTS song "Spring Day" (which RM also had a hand in writing) in that nothing is permanent. Negative feelings, experiences, etc. everything goes. The song is uplifting and even the production has a calming and uplifting effect. The song builds slowly and comes to a crescendo late in the song. And the chorus, includes a chorus of "everything, everything, everything goes" which is a reminder we all need sometimes.

7. "forever rain"

"forever rain" is the only music video (to the date of writing) released from the mixtape so far. The music video is animated featuring black and white drawings that simply stunning. The song itself is about feeling comfort from the rain. It includes imagery of the rain hiding your own tears and even calls back to fellow member Suga's mixtape "Agust D". The song--despite it's depressing themes and imagery--is optimistic and is an ode to finding comfort and happiness in the most unlikely place and in the littlest things.

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