If J-Hope wanted to explore the darker side of himself with Jack in The Box, RM desires to understand his real and raw self in Indigo. The young rapper, an art enthusiast, has brought out his shades of emotions on a personal canvas, a reflection to his own soul.
While all the members have much burdens on the shoulders, RM carries an unusual weight. At a young age, he became the leader of a band, found himself engulfed in fame and stardom, as he became part of the band that later revolutionised the face of K-Pop. From being the songwriter and rapper, he evolved into being the representative of the band owing to his English fluency. They never envisioned that they would become an instrument in South Korean diplomacy, years down the line.
RM has given powerful speeches at the UN, visited the White House and while all these milestones fuelled the band’s fame, RM has always expressed his worry that he lost himself in the last few years. He became mechanical, like he said during the emotional 2022 Festa and music had become something that everyone else enjoyed, except them. “We’ve lost our direction,” he had said tearfully.
After the band announced solo activities in June, RM went back to basics and found his soul again—and hence, the release of his solo album, Indigo. This album is a place where he could finally express his rawest and truest self, almost like a promise that he owed to himself and no one else. With this pensive and philosophical album, he takes his fans into his actual world that is untouched by the shackles of success. It’s the ‘last archive of his twenties’ where he delves into the melancholy transition into adulthood.
In Indigo, he isn’t any of these things; a leader, a fellow member or the face of South Korea—-he’s just himself. Finally.
The search for identity
‘I want to be human before I do some art’, is RM’s refrain in the song, Yun, the first in the album. It’s a question that he has been confronting for a while now—his own identity behind the stoic answers in interviews and the flashing lights on stage. Yun includes comforting beats and vocals from Erykah Badu and it sets the tone for the rest of the songs of the album. He begins with saying that he doesn’t want to be the trendsetter anymore; he just wishes to turn back time. Yet, while the beats are soothing, RM’s contained frustration reverberates through the track.
Of course, no track in the album can be without a cleverly veiled reference to RM’s passion for art—something that consumes his soul as much as music does, or maybe more. Still Life, a Korean-English collaboration with Anderson Paak, is upbeat and is a fun banter between Paak and RM. “You can’t lock me in the frame, I’m moving, ” the song reiterates RM’s determination to avoid being slotted into one perception. He’s moving forward without being held back from the constraints of the past and the expectations from the future. With All Day, RM collaborates with Tablo for another upbeat track where both of them extrapolate on the difficulties of crafting something original and following the herd. In Forg_tful, he attempts something new with his vocals and uses his a rather raspy lower register.
Five years ago, RM had released the cheery and positive Change. However, in Change Pt 2, the rapper is rather resigned and weary as evident in the opening lines ‘Things change, people change, everything changes. Love change, friends change…’ Everything has fallen apart, and he’s just wondering how to reconstruct himself with the pieces. While it seems like heartbreak at the outset, RM looks into himself and realises that he isn’t the person that he used to be.
The angst of youth
Change Pt 2 is followed by Lonely (RM had clearly stated that the songs should be listened to in order). In this track—with again a seeming heartbreak at the center—RM turns to poignant angst and resentment, with a hint of aggression. He reiterates the line, “I tried a million times to let you go, so many memories on the floor…”
Hectic, featuring Colde, is a disco-themed pulsing track, which begins with RM’s words, “Yesterday was a hard day, there was nothing romantic…” It reflects his feelings on a regular work day from dawn till dusk—-the hard gruel and toil of his days should not be romanticised and idealised, as one can interpret from the lyrics of the song. Yet, with No.2 featuring Park Jiyoon, he strives to look forward to the morning.
The consuming power of dreams
It’s in Wild Flower, where RM shows his true, raw and vulnerable self completely, without any inhibitions. He doesn’t mince words and lays bare his honesty for the fans to see. His desperation echoes in the song as he almost begs the world to let him be himself, as the fame has turned into ‘shackles’. It’s a plaintive and painful plea as he says, ‘I can’t go to the stars again, I can’t…’
Throughout the years, RM has verbalised his struggle with fame as he once emphasised, “We are just seven normal boys from Korea.” Fame has had its moments of unbridled joy and pride, but it has also come at a price—compromising on the core aspects of himself. In this track, He shows the Kim Nam-joon, who just wanted to be a poet at one point. He just wants to escape to the fields of flowers when times get cruel, as he explains, ‘When your dreams devour you, when your own heart underestimates you…’
Indigo is RM’s canvas where he has bared the colours of his soul—it sees many things, the loneliness of an artist, the cost of fulfilling dreams, the struggle to keep one’s identity in the face of monumental fame.